The Rolex Paris Masters was a tournament that Felix Auger-Aliassime anticipated he'd do well in. After bowing out of the Vienna Open's first round to his Canadian compatriot Vasek Pospisil he didn't feel like his game was improving.
It did though at the two Bett1HULKS indoors and championship events. The young Canadian was able to go deep in both tournaments and thought the same would happen at the Rolex Paris Masters -- but it didn't. Things started changing.
Auger-Aliassime bowed out at the first round to Marin Cilic in a three set disappointing performance. The Canadian's only saving grace was in doubles with Hubert Hurkacz. They had known each other in their junior tennis days and decided to team up for the first time in Rotterdam.
This past February they were fortunate to make it through to the quarterfinals. But with the world health crisis and no competition for almost 7 months, situations looked gloomy if they would even play singly or as a team in this 2020 season.
The Rolex Paris Masters was the test. Felix and Hubert went through the opening doubles round defeating the French team of Adrian Mannarino and Giles Simon 6-1, 6-2. The next three rounds were a struggle with them losing a set each time but still coming out the winner to get to the final.
"This was so unexpected," the young Canadian had smilingly said. "We started with a great match and just kept playing better and better." They began to interact on court as a unit, complimenting each other's skills and tactics.
They soon overpowered the No. 2 doubles team of Bruno Soares and Mate Pavic. The 2nd seeded team had trouble returning the big Canadian's serves and misread the strategies of Hubert Hurkacz to start creating errors leading to their failed plays and aggressive shotmaking.
As time went on the unseeded team of Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz kept doing great.
Things turned around quickly for it was clearly the No. 2 team who won the opening tiebreak set and thought they'd capture the title - didn't.
The confidence had flowed maybe too much giving way for the Canadian and Pole to turn the game around. They saved a match point to win the 2nd set in another tiebreak and started getting stronger in their shots and tactics.
The Canadian was truly having fun out thee, somthing he might not have experienced in his singles' game. "It is a joy to play with him and to be around him," Felix had admitted even at times whe the match became frustrating.
"I have to say Hubert is a really nice person and has a really good heart." Things became more tense in the deciding tiebreak but they won the set 10-2 to win their first doubles title together, the first in each player's career.
"I am a bit surprised and happy to finish the season like this," Hurkacz said relaxingly after he and Felix saved 5 match points to win the Championship. It was a milestone for the newly formed team of only partnering once together and then now capturing their first doubles title.
Both have also won one singles title in their career. This very well may be the start of greater things to come. Auger-Aliassime had indeed felt relaxed enough to execute great shots at the right time resulting in victory. "It is huge, to win this title," Hurkacz had said and appreciated Felix's input to make a difference in their game.
It might have not been intentional, but for the 20-year-old Canadian, improving his game no matter what he'll take it any way he can get it.