Felix Auger-Aliassime joins Rafael Nadal and Murray on special age record


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Felix Auger-Aliassime joins Rafael Nadal and Murray on special age record

An 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime has been one of the biggest prospects in the world of tennis ever since 2015, reaching Challenger quarter-final before turning 15! In May 2016, Felix missed the opportunity to become only the third player with Futures title before turning 16 (Richard Gasquet and Mario Ancic), winning junior US Open a couple of months later and the first Futures crown for 2000 generation in November.

Ranked just outside the top-600 at the end of that season, the Montreal native had a stellar run in 2017, winning two Challenger crowns (the seventh youngest Challenger champion in Lyon) and almost reaching the top-150, setting more milestones for the players of his age and setting eyes on more significant results in 2018.

A knee injury in December halted his plans and Felix had to make slow steps in the first part of the last season, playing mostly on clay and moving closer to the place in the top-100 where he entered this February after reaching the first ATP final in Rio de Janeiro.

That leads us to the core of this story, with Auger-Aliassime advancing into the second ATP title match this week in Lyon to achieve the special feat. Felix has become only the fourth active player with multiple ATP final before turning 19, joining Rafael Nadal, Richard Gasquet and Andy Murray who did that before him, the last time in 2006!

As with any other age record in the previous 20 years, Nadal is way in front with eight ATP finals before the 19th birthday, competing for the crown in Auckland and Sopot in 2004 and again in Costa di Sauipe, Acapulco, Miami, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome in 2005.

Richard Gasquet added three finals to his tally at the age of 18 and the last player who did that before Felix, Andy Murray, fought for the crown in Bangkok 2005 and San Jose 2006 when he won the maiden title. Auger-Aliassime came to Lyon after winning two Challenger titles there in 2017 and 2018, also as the 4th seed that allowed him to skip the opening round.

In the second, Felix took down John Millman in two tight sets before a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 win over Steve Johnson for the place in the semis, the third of the season after Rio de Janeiro and Miami. There, the young Canadian scored just one break against the top seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in a 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 win, overcoming a slow start and prevailing in the crucial moments in the rest of the match to book the place in the second ATP final and earn the place on this exclusive list.

If he beats Benoit Paire today, Felix will become only the seventh player since 2000 with an ATP title at the age of 18, joining Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, Gael Monfils, Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori who is the last man to achieve that back in Delray Beach 2008.