Resurgent Felix Auger-Aliassime gets candid on 'terrible 2023', overcoming adversity

After the most challenging and difficult period of his career, Auger-Aliassime is back to doing well on the biggest level.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Resurgent Felix Auger-Aliassime gets candid on 'terrible 2023', overcoming adversity
© Getty Images Sport - Megan Briggs

Felix Auger-Aliassime says he is proud of himself of not quitting during or after "a terrible 2023 year" as the former world No. 6 is thrilled to finally be feeling and playing well again.

After winning four titles in late 2022 and finishing the year ranked at No. 6 in the world, Auger-Aliassime was hoping to continue his rise in 2023 and potentially make some noise at the Grand Slam level and get closer to the world No. 1 spot. 

But it was all but a good season for Auger-Aliassime, who went 23-19 last year and was far away from being a serious contender in the biggest tournament. At one point, Auger-Aliassime was on a five-match losing streak between May and August but he did make his 2023 season look a bit better even winning Basel in late October.

While Auger-Aliassime didn't make a great start to this season either, he started to rediscover his game and form at the ongoing Madrid Masters, where he has made the final. 

"I have carried out a very interesting process since I turned professional because I felt that every year I was progressing, I was a better player. Then 2023 arrived, which was a terrible year in my career and in my life, and we forgot everything that I did before. I think that, in sport, everything changes quickly and we tend to forget," Auger-Aliassime said, via Punto de Break.

Felix Auger-Aliassime
Felix Auger-Aliassime© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney
 

Auger-Aliassime 'proud' of never giving up despite the adversity

When Auger-Aliassime takes on Andrey Rublev in the Madrid final on Sunday, he will be aiming for his first Masters title and the biggest title of his career. And all of this is happening for Auger-Aliassime after the most challenging and difficult period of his career. 

Auger-Aliassime, now ranked at No 35 in the world, is also guaranteed to return to the top-20 on Monday.

"What I am most proud of is that I have maintained my passion for tennis during difficult times, I have known how to deal with frustration and continue wanting with all my might to be a great tennis player. It is great to see myself in this situation; life and tennis smile at me again," Auger-Aliassime said. 

"Some of the best matches of my career have been on this surface and I have always felt that I have the potential to do well on clay."

Felix Auger-Aliassime
Felix Auger-Aliassime© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney
 

Auger-Aliassime on reaching the Madrid final after a few retirements

In Madrid, Auger-Aliassime came back from a set down to beat Yoshihito Nishioka in his opener before sealing a two-set win against Adriano Mannarino in his next match. In the third round, Auger-Aliassime was up by a set on Jakub Mensik and also up by an early break in the second set when the Czech tennis player retired from the match due to injury.

Then, Auger-Aliassime defeated three-time Grand Slam finalist Casper Ruud in the round-of-16 before top-seeded Jannik Sinner gave him a walkover in the quarterfinal due to a hip injury. On Friday, Auger-Aliassime was tied to three games apiece with Jiri Lehecka in the semifinal when the Czech was forced to quit the match due to a back injury.

"Obviously I feel bad for those who have had to retire playing against me. I have never experienced anything similar. I have had several injuries and I know what it feels like when they deprive you of doing what you love most in the world. I know that I am facing a great opportunity in my career. I think I had been training well for weeks, having good feelings and against Ruud I got a victory that gave me a lot of confidence," Auger-Aliassime said. 

On Sunday, Auger-Aliassime will be taking on Rublev for the sixth time in his career and searching just for just his second win over the Russian tennis star. While Auger-Aliassime has just one win over Rublev, three of his four losses came in three sets while one came in two very tight sets. 

Andrey Rublev and Felix Auger-Aliassime
Andrey Rublev and Felix Auger-Aliassime© Getty Images Sport - Paul Kane
 

With that being said, Auger-Aliassime will enter the Madrid final confident that he can play well and beat Rublev despite having just one win in their previous five meetings. 

"Every time we have played they have been close matches, with very crazy situations. I want to concentrate on playing my best tennis because this will give me the opportunity to beat a great player, who deserves everything good that happens to him due to the enormous consistency that has been going on for years. proving, remaining in the elite," Auger-Aliassime said of facing Rublev.

It remains to be seen if Auger-Aliassime can beat Rublev for his first title of the year and also his first Masters title.

Felix Auger-aliassime
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