The young guns are coming in tennis, and Novak Djokovic said in his press conference at the Miami Open that it’s rising stars like Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime who are leading the way. The Canadian has already made history at this year’s Miami Open, becoming the youngest semifinalist in the tournament’s history.
The 18-year-old is no stranger to making history, having become the first 14-year-old to win an ATP Challenger Draw main draw match, and the youngest player to get to an ATP 500 tournament final, which he just did in February, in Rio.
Felix Auger Aliassime was asked how he felt breaking through the top ranks at such a young age, and being compared to the greats (interestingly, he also shares Roger Federer’s birthday). “You know, so much, obviously it's a privilege to be compared to all these great players.
I think it just shows that I'm doing good things, I'm on the right track. “But, yeah, I think I'm seeing the long term, and right now I'm just enjoying, you know, enjoying every day, enjoying every match, because you never know what's gonna happen next.
I'm really enjoying myself”. Auger Aliassime beat his young opponent, 11th seed Borna Coric (22 years old) in a battle of the NextGen talents, in two easy straight sets, 7-6(3), 6-2. It was the fifth Top 20 player he has beaten, with zero losses.
Despite his incredible record against Top 20 players, the humble Canadian was still surprised by the dominant win. Currently ranked No. 57, he is guaranteed to crack the Top 40 by the time the rankings come out after the tournament, securing at least No.
33. If he wins, he will be a Top 20 player himself. “Playing Borna, who's been established for a few years now, I definitely didn't expect to win. “I expected more, a set like in the first. But the second really surprised me.
I felt like I had margin over him, had a bit of an edge. I just felt really comfortable out there from the first balls”. The level-headed 18-pyear-old is taking it one match at a time. Next up for him is last year’s winner, John Isner, a player almost twice his age (33) and ranked No.
9. “Yeah, a lot of things are working, obviously. I think I have been just improving in the last couple of weeks. But I don't want to look back right now. I think I will do at the end of the tournament. Right now I'm looking forward to the next match and how far I can go in this tournament.
Definitely I will take some time back home to reset and think about what happened”. For now, he is preparing to play the American player who won his first Masters 1000 right here in Miami last year. He talked about facing Isner’s daunting serve.
“Obviously I think maybe I'll have to maybe adjust my return position. Maybe see the stats where he's serving best, look at the match how he played today in these tiebreaks, to see where he likes serving on important points.
“From there, you know, just focus on myself, what I have to do first, and then figure out a way to break him”. With another Canadian sensation shaking things up on the women’s side—Bianca Andreescu having won her first WTA Mandatory Premiere tournament at Indian Wells just last week—the crop of Canadian tennis talent is substantial.
“Everyone is super excited back home. It's great to hear all these good comments from them. It puts a lot of belief in tennis in Canada. I think all the Canadian players from the young kids to Denis and Bianca and I, there is a lot of belief right now, so it's great to see”. Felix Auger Aliassime and Bianca Andreescu are certainly the future of tennis. Keep your eyes on them.