The NextGen Felix Auger-Aliassime might have been told some weird and wicked tales about playing on the green surface but admitted after his first try that "I was surprised because I thought it would be a lot tougher.
I still have a lot to learn on grass," the Canadian said with a grin as he experienced his first round in Stuttgart. He had defeated Latvian icon Ernests Gulbis 7-5, 6-3, his first ATP victory on grass. All he knows now is that clay has been difficult.
Messy shoes and red-stained socks, he started his trek with the Monte-Carlo Masters. Auger-Aliassime was downed by Alexander Zverev in the second round, as well as at the Barcelona Open with Kei Nishikori coming out the victor.
The Canadian went toe-to-toe with Rafael Nadal and also came out with a loss in straight sets. It wasn't just in his head that entering the Italian Open might be a change in result, but it didn't meet his expectations where he had a dust-up with the Croatian Borna Coric turning out to be negative.
The bright part was the Lyon Open. He made it to the final with Frenchman Benoit Paire but dropped the match in straight sets. The tournament wasn't without issues as he was hampered by a groin/adductor injury. He finished at Lyon and even though, on a losing note, he raised his rankings to 12th in the world.
"I had a good week even though it didn't end the way I wanted, not playing the way I wanted or being physically well," the Canadian said. Clay can be a major undertaking and Auger-Aliassime wasn't up to playing the second slam of the year, the French Open.
The best recourse was to drop out, rest and heal for the upcoming grass season and that's what he did. He was still mentally plagued by misgivings of having an injury saying "Lyon is special for me. Every time I come here I feel like I'm at home."
The Canadian has steadily climbed the ranks bit by bit. The start of this season he was no. 108 then by getting into the Lyon final propelled him into the no. 21 ranking. The teen put on a positively great display especially at serving and Gulbis had a difficult time handling him as well as winning from the teen on his first time out on grass.
This might be the start of something Felix Auger-Aliassime can handle and become successful. If this tournament at Stuttgart works out he may be singing all the way up the rankings ladder and possibly getting a title saying to his team, "Let's go where the grass is greener and skies are blue," because it's comfortable and complimentary with his playing style and strategies.