Félix Auger-Aliassime is tipped to move mountains — the young Canadian is having a breakthrough year, winning admirers along the way with his performances.
At 18 years old he is the youngest tennis player within the ATP top 100, ranked number 21 in the world. At this year’s Queen’s, he became the youngest player with two semi-finals on grass since Boris Becker in 1985.
Being named in the same breath as a legend like Boris Becker is no mean feat for someone who was number 172 in the ATP Rankings just this time last year.
He is currently on the verge of breaking the top 20. How far can the Canadian teenager go?
At 18 years old Félix Auger-Aliassime is the youngest tennis player ranked within the ATP top 100, and is on the verge of breaking the top 20 after a remarkable year
‘A lot of work behind years and months’
A French-Canadian, Félix Auger-Aliassime was born in Montreal and raised in a suburb of Quebec City. His mother is Québécoise and his father, a tennis coach, immigrated to Canada from Togo.
It was his father who began training the Canadian at age four — Auger-Aliassime, like many of Canada’s recent successes, owe something to the country’s welcoming immigration policies.
At 13, he began to train at the National Training Centre in Montreal with elite coaches and players, where he had to move up to another level.
‘Suddenly, I’m seeing good players like Milos [Raonic] and Vasek [Pospisil],’ he said. ‘It was a big difference from before.’
At 14 years old Auger-Aliassime became the youngest player ever to qualify for an ATP Challenger main draw, and won three Challenger and Futures titles before turning seventeen
At 14 years old Auger-Aliassime became the youngest player in history to qualify for an ATP Challenger main draw. He won three titles at the Challenger and Futures levels before turning seventeen — to put that in context, the only other players to achieve this feat were Novak Djokovic, Juan Martín del Potro, and Richard Gasquet.
Of the tennis style he developed over this time, the young Canadian said: ‘I prefer attacking tennis to baseline tennis. I try to attack. It’s how I was raised to play.’ He is an all-court player with excellent athleticism, an effective serve and a decent volley.
In 2018 he made a breakthrough at pro level at Indian Wells, where he beat fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the first round in straight sets — his first tour-level win, at the age of seventeen. He was defeated in the next round by fellow Canadian Milos Raonic.
In 2018 he made a breakthrough at the pro level at Indian Wells, where he beat fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the first round in straight sets – his first tour-level win, at the age of seventeen
Rising through the ranks
Auger-Aliassime began 2019 outside of the top 100, but quickly made progress and is now teetering on the brink of the top 20 with a number of skillful and incredibly consistent tournament performances.
This year has brought three finals for the Canadian; first at the Rio Open, where he was beaten by Laslo Đere, one at the Lyon Open, losing to Benoît Paire, and another at the Stuttgart Open, which he lost in straight sets to Mario Berrettini.
This was followed by victory over world number six Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-final at Queen’s. The performance left his Greek opponent full of praise, telling reporters the Canadian is the best he’s ever come up against.
‘I’m sure if he ever gets the difficult chance to play Nadal, Djokovic, or Federer, he’s going to beat them, for sure’, he said. And from someone who has beaten all three, the claim carries extra weight.
World number six Stefanos Tsitsipas has never beaten Auger-Aliassime, and describes him as the best he’s ever come up against. ‘I have to accept that he’s better than me,’ he said
‘I think this year I just kind of found my rhythm, I just found my beat, and I think I have been on the right track,’ the teen said of his rapid rise through the ranks.
The next challenge is Wimbledon, which he remarkably enters as the 19th seed despite never having competed in a Grand Slam match.
The All England Club has witnessed teenage champions from Maria Sharapova in 2004 to Boris Becker in 1985. How close can the young Canadian come to replicating these feats?
Canada has three of the most exciting young talents in tennis at the moment in 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, 20-year-old Denis Shapovalov and 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu
A bright future for Canadian tennis
Canada is an exciting place for tennis at the moment: with 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime, 20-year-old Denis Shapovalov and 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu, the nation has three of the most exciting young talents in tennis.
‘It’s a pretty special time,’ Tennis Canada president Michael Downey said. ‘These kids are products of the world and it’s so reflective of what Canada’s about and what we take pride in.’
Milos Raonic and Eugenie Blanchard were two of the first products of Tennis Canada’s new system, and both went on to reach Wimbledon finals
Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov are both inside the ATP top-30, with Canadian number one Milos Raonic ranked seventeenth. He and Eugenie Blanchard were two of the first products of Tennis Canada’s new system, and both went on to reach Wimbledon finals.
The envy of the tennis world is plain to see, as John McEnroe recently put it: ‘Who would have thought that the best prospects would be Canadians? We’re looking with egg on our faces in America.’