A few months ago Roger Federer compared Felix Auger-Aliassime's attitude to Rafael Nadal's. The young Canadian player will be one of the stars headlining the Chengdu Open and the Tournament Director Luiz Carvalho could not be happier for it.
"I met Felix last year in Chengdu, he went through the qualies, then be won a couple of main matches and lost in the quarter-finals", said Carvalho. "Then we gave him a wild card in Rio, he reached the final.
It's impressive how mature and focused he is, his nice personality, how well-educated and humble he is. He says good night, good morning to everyone. He is such a polite guy, down to earth, that's why he gets compared to Nadal.
He behaves well on the court and even more off the court. I am pretty sure he will establish on the top 20, he will win more big matches and hopefully next year he cracks top 10." For many days in Chengdu, seats on Center Court are empty.
Asked how they deal with it, Carvalho replied: "We just try to bring more marketable players. Last year Frances Tiafoe, Kevin Anderson and Diego Schwartzman withdrew, the field got declined and it was tough times. This year Shapovalov, Aliassime, Opelka, Verdasco, Carreno Busta, they are all marketable players and we hope we will manage to attract more people.
Tennis in China is young, it's picking up. Beijing and Shanghai have great crowds. It takes time. If a Chinese player comes up, it definitely helps. Li Na did amazing things on the women's side."