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
| Felix Auger-Aliassime
| Rafael Nadal
| Lleyton Hewitt
| Novak Djokovic
| Andy Murray
| Andre Agassi
“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.”
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.