It was out of the question for Felix Auger-Aliassime to disappoint the fans who packed IGA Stadium to see him in action on Wednesday night. Although he made his fans break into a cold sweat at the start of the match, the Quebecer prevailed, like a king in his kingdom, to win in straight sets 7-5 6-4 over Yoshihito Nishioka.
Updated yesterday at 23:54
Those who believed that this first match against Nishioka, 54me racket world, it was going to be a ride in Jarry Park they were wrong. The Japanese were not easy prey.
He had reached the final of the Washington tournament just a few days ago and had a career winning record of two wins and one loss against the Quebecer. Auger-Aliassime had to deal with the pressure of playing in front of his team at centre-back during the afternoon session.
“It’s hard to prepare for that, Auger-Aliassime explained after the meeting. This morning when I woke up I felt very well, I rested at home, I talked with my family, calmly. »
He still explains that he felt something special when he heard his name when he arrived at the field. “A feeling that I don’t find anywhere else. He gave me chills. »
First it was the inconsistency that marked the start of the match for the headliner. Galvanized by the reception he received upon entering the field and during the warm-up period, he set the tone for the first set with powerful and accurate shots. Instead, at times he seemed to run out of solutions against an opponent who gave him almost everything back.
It is in this dichotomous trend that the sixth seed had to negotiate.
As much as the Quebecer used his forehand down the line many times to beat his opponent, his first serve struggled to come into play. His success rate was just 25% after his first two serving sequences.
As much as he managed to rouse the crowd with 24 game winners in the first set, just as much drew murmurs with 25 unforced errors.
“A difficult first race. […] I still had good ideas and good intentions, but the execution was not there”, admitted the main interested party.
However, FAA survived and won the tie break in the first set thanks to a backhand pass that ended with fists raised, in total ecstasy.
However, Auger-Aliassime was tired of just surviving. Above all, he wanted to exist and mark his territory. The second half of the match was his and although he failed to make two match points at 5-3, he bounced back nicely thanks to an outgoing wing ace that his opponent didn’t even try to hit.
The one who turned 22me birthday two days ago he gave himself a silly present. The crowd cheered for their favorite for long minutes after the game, as if they wanted more.
keep a cool head
As Auger-Aliassime must deal with the pressure of being the local favorite and the highest-ranked Quebec player in National Bank Open history, a new factor came into play on Wednesday. Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Andrey Rublev, seeded first, second and fifth respectively, were eliminated. The panorama is therefore wide open for Quebecers.
Therefore, the interest and excitement around their performances will grow as the tournament progresses, because some of the biggest threats have already been averted.
The key for him will be to be focused on his task: “Everyone likes to project themselves in life, including myself, sometimes, but that is the job of a player. It is managing to keep a cool head and remain calm. All the points we play, we have to earn them ourselves. »
Therefore, Auger-Aliassime has a date with Cameron Norrie (9) on Thursday. The history between the two players favors the Quebecer. He won four of his five meetings. However, he suffered his only loss to the Brit last week, in the semi-finals of the Los Cabos tournament. This setback, therefore, is still fresh in his memory.
“Having faced him last week, yes, I lost, but it’s a good thing. »
He also stated that Norrie is one of the best players in the world these days and just like their previous matchups, the next game will be tough to win.
The ice has already been broken for Félix Auger-Aliassime, and the expectations will be greater every day. With the fall of the circuit’s titans, the Quebecois’ mission is not easy. He wants to reign, at home, with his fist raised.
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