#NextGenATP Canadian seeks spot in first ATP Masters 1000 final
The Miami Open presented by Itau has been the best tournament of #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime’s life. But he doesn’t want to think about his success — at least not yet.
“A lot of things are working, obviously. I think I have been just improving in the past couple of weeks. But I don’t want to look back right now. I think I will do [that] at the end of the tournament,” said Auger-Aliassime, who plays defending champion John Isner in the semi-finals. “Right now I’m looking forward to the next match and how far I can go in this tournament. Definitely I will take some time back home to reset and think about what happened.”
A lot has transpired in Miami for the 18-year-old, and his run is not over yet. Auger-Aliassime went through qualifying to reach the main draw, which was an accomplishment in itself. The teen had never reached the Round of 16 at an ATP Masters 1000 event, yet he is now into the semi-finals.
Felix is one of just six teenagers to ever reach the semi-finals in Miami, and he is the youngest of the bunch. The other five players who have accomplished the feat have all climbed to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings. On Monday, Auger-Aliassime will become the first player born in the 2000s to crack the world’s Top 50, projected to move up to at least the mid-30s.
Teenage Semi-finalists In Miami
“It’s a privilege to be compared to all these great players. I think it just shows that I’m doing good things, I’m on the right track,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I think I’m seeing the long term, and right now I’m just enjoying every day, enjoying every match, because you never know what’s going to happen next. I’m really enjoying myself.”
Earlier this event, Auger-Aliassime told ATPTour.com that he is, “not really scared of losing”. Yet he walked on Stadium court inside Hard Rock Stadium on Wednesday evening not expecting to win against last year’s Shanghai finalist Borna Coric.
“Playing Borna, who’s been established for a few years now, I definitely didn’t expect to win,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I expected more, a set like in the first. But the second really surprised me. I felt like I had margin over him, had a bit of an edge. I just felt really comfortable out there from the first ball.”
You May Also Like: Felix’s Philosophy: ‘I’m Not Scared Of Losing’
It’s been a meteoric rise for Auger-Aliassime, who did not break into the Top 100 until 25 February. Since the start of the Rio Open presented by Claro, the right-hander has won 13 of his past 16 tour-level matches. Entering the season, he had just six wins at tour-level. Now he has 20.
“I think I’m really serving well, so I think it’s putting pressure on them,” said Felix of how he has been troubling opponents. “[It shows] seeing [Borna] double-faulted once in a tie-break and missed a couple of groundstrokes that maybe he wouldn’t normally. I feel with all the matches that I’ve played obviously brings confidence at the end of sets like this when it’s tight.”
The Rio de Janeiro finalist will have a different task ahead of him in 6’10” John Isner, whom he has never previously faced. Isner is plenty confident as well having won 10 consecutive matches in Miami.
“Obviously I think maybe I’ll have to maybe adjust my return position. Maybe see the stats where he’s serving best, look at the match how he played today in these tie-breaks, to see where he likes serving on important points,” Auger-Aliassime said. “From there, just focus on myself, what I have to do first, and then figure out a way to break him.”
Regardless of how that match shakes out, Felix has earned his biggest breakthrough yet on the ATP Tour. And coupled with fellow #NextGenATP Canadian teen Denis Shapovalov, they have shown that the future is bright for Canadian fans.
“Pretty crazy. Everyone is super excited back home,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It’s great to hear all these good comments from them. It puts a lot of belief in tennis in Canada… there is a lot of belief right now, so it’s great to see.”
A future star has become a present star this week, and with the chance of winning two matches to become an ATP Masters 1000 champion ahead of him, Felix’s star may shine brighter yet by week’s end.
Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe – described as three of the “most exciting young players in the sport” – will play Queen’s in June.
Canada’s Auger-Aliassime, 18, will be the first male player born in the 2000s to reach the world’s top 50 when the latest rankings come out on Monday.
He has reached the Miami Open semi-finals this week, while Shapovalov and Tiafoe meet in the quarter-finals.
“There is no better way to prepare for Wimbledon,” Auger-Aliassime said.
Auger-Aliassime is the youngest player to have reached the Miami semis in the tournament’s 35-year history – he is two months younger than Spanish great Rafael Nadal was in achieving the same feat in 2005.
If he reaches the final, he could meet fellow Canadian Shapovalov, 19, or 21-year-old American Tiafoe, who play each other in the last eight on Thursday.
“Denis had a great run at the Queen’s Club a couple of years ago, and he told me at the time that I should watch out for his good friend Felix because he is an incredible talent,” tournament director Stephen Farrow said.
“The results Felix has posted over the past week in Miami back up that view, and we are delighted that he will make his debut this year.”
The Fever-Tree Championships take place from 17-23 June, with BBC Sport providing live coverage from the west London club across television, radio and online.
British number one Kyle Edmund, Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, Croatia’s defending champion Marin Cilic and entertaining Australian Nick Kyrgios will also return to the Queen’s grass.
Former world number one Andy Murray has a career-long commitment to the tournament, but his participation is in doubt after he had surgery on his hip last month.
Wimbledon starts at the All England Club a fortnight later on 1 July.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has been named as the official starter of the London Marathon on 28 April.
He follows in the footsteps of the Queen, who started it in 2018, while the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry did the honours in 2017.
Scot Murray – currently rehabilitating following hip surgery – said it was an “honour” to be asked.
“It’s such an amazing race that means so much to so many people,” the 31-year-old added.
“It raises millions each year for charity and helps inspire people to get active. I have nothing but admiration for everyone who runs – I may even run it myself one day.”
Murray – also a double Olympic champion – was in attendance at the 2014 London Marathon when his wife, Kim, took part.
Event director Hugh Brasher said: “Sir Andy Murray is one of Britain’s greatest sporting superstars and it is so fitting that he will be the official starter for one of the country’s greatest sporting events and the world’s greatest marathon.
“Andy is renowned as one of the toughest and most competitive sportsmen on the planet and someone who does not recognise barriers in sport.”