The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

INTERVIEW: Felix Auger-Aliassime

August 8, 2019

Wednesday, August 7, 2019
6-3, 3-6 (ret.)

THE MODERATOR: Questions in English.

Q. What was your reaction when you saw that Milos was forfeiting the match?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I was looking to change my wristbands. I was getting ready to go up and then play. He just came in front of me. Yeah, I was pretty shook. Didn’t really know how to react. But then a few seconds later it sunk in that, Okay, he retired, he’s not going to play. After that, what I can say? That’s how it is. That’s life.

For sure what was tough is to see Milos’ face. He’s a good friend of mine. I remember when we crossed after the second set, I could feel he was pretty sad about something. It wasn’t fun to see him like that.

At the end of the day I wish it’s not too bad because it’s tough to see him go out like that, yeah.

Q. Just the emotions of advancing, but also the way it happened, sure not the way you wanted it to play out, right?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, for sure. Especially it’s the first time something like that has happened to me. I’m sure the positive side is that I get a chance to play tomorrow again, I got the victory.

In the end, to see Milos go out like that was not easy to see. So, yeah, I’m not going to try to make a whole big deal out of it. I think it’s things that just happen. It’s happened to me before. Sometimes it happens to the opponent.

I think now it’s just time to focus on what’s ahead tomorrow.

Q. You’ve been working on your serve a lot the last few months. Can you talk about what is really going well, how it helps your entire game?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, like when I’m serving like I did today, for sure it’s a big relief for my game, for my baseline game. To know or feel like I can have one or two free points every game that I’m serving is a big advantage. I think that’s something that I’ve improved a lot, the power, obviously the precision of my serve in the last year. It has helped me to play well on every surface. I think I showed it again today.

So, yeah, I feel like I can keep on doing that. It doesn’t mean that you serve well one day that you’re going to keep on serving well. I got to keep working, doing the right things, keeping my routine, yeah, just doing what I’m doing.

Q. You played Canadians in the first two matches. Now you won’t be. How do you think the atmosphere is going to feel different?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Luckily it felt it a bit in the doubles the first day. You could feel, yeah, there wasn’t as much clapping when the opponents were winning points. There was a lot on our side.

I think it’s going to be good. That part of the draw was obviously tough and a bit awkward, playing two friends, two Canadians in a row. At the end I’m happy I’m the one who got out of that, that has a chance to play in the third round tomorrow.

Yeah, hopefully now the crowd can push a little more on my side and maybe give me an edge when it’s important tomorrow.

Q. What do you expect from tomorrow’s opponent? Tough out.

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: He’s won at that level before. That’s going to be tough. He knows how to win. Again, pretty big guy, big serve, pretty explosive. I think if I give him time to get behind the ball and dictate the points, it’s going to be tough for me.

I think the main challenge here is to dictate the points from the first few balls, from the serve, the ball after, and on the return like I did today in the first set. I think the two first matches prepared me well for the type of player I’m going to play tomorrow. If I can do the right things on my side again, it’s going to help a lot.

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.

Q. You probably have mixed feelings after that match.

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Well this is part of the game. These things happen. The positive I can draw from it is that I played a good match, a very good first set. I hope I will be able to play at that level tomorrow. Of course, it’s unfortunate.

Q. Did you feel in Milos some reactions that might have led you to think he would quit?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Sometimes you have a pain somewhere, but it goes away. I thought maybe the pain went away. But sometimes on some returns, I felt he was less reactive. I felt he was defending less, not serving as well, not moving as well. So there were some signs showing he might not finish the match.

IASSIME: Sometimes you have a pain somewhere, but it goes away. I thought maybe the pain went away. But sometimes on some returns, I felt he was less reactive. I felt he was defending less, not serving as well, not moving as well. So there were some signs showing he might not finish the match.

But in the end, I was surprised like everyone else to see him retire, especially after winning the second set.

Q. You were saying you were happy with your match all the same. What did you like in your game against Milos?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I believe I served very well. Even when he broke me in the second, it was a very small difference. Just missed two points by very little. I was happy with the way I served in the first set, the way I managed the returns, the way I was able to dictate the points.

If I can keep it going, I think I will give myself some chances of winning other matches.

Q. Tomorrow evening there’s going to be a special ceremony for Daniel Nestor for the Rogers Cup. I think you met him, spent some time with him in Davis Cup. He has 29 Rogers cups.

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Playing 30 years in a row in the Rogers Cup is something. He was 16 years old when he started. Now he’s 46. He’s a legend of our sport in Canada. I didn’t spend much time with him, unfortunately. But he’s a model for many players in Canada.

There’s something special because I was present in the Davis Cup team on his last time, and it was my first time. It’s really a change of generations. I’ll keep that anecdote in my mind for a long time.

Q. Tomorrow is your birthday. Can you talk about your next match, what you expect from your birthday? A cake on the court? Was it a joke when you talked about it?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I didn’t think at all about my birthday all week. It’s not my priority right now. I’ll just do as usual. Whether it is my birthday or not, it doesn’t change the preparation for my match. Of course, it would be a beautiful gift for me to be able to go to the quarterfinals.

But I have a memory when I was a kid that there was a cake for Federer, because it was his birthday. It’s the same date for me. I thought, Well, I would love to play on center court and having a cake on center court. When you’re eight years old, it seems incredible to get a cake on center court.

Q. Are you good to exchange birthday wishes with Roger tomorrow?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I don’t have his phone number.

Q. Did you feel confident as soon as you were able to enter into a rally?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yes. I think it showed. That was the plan. I think I did it well. I didn’t do that as well in the second set, but after those two sets, I’m not too frustrated with my game. I was doing good things.

Of course, when you are broken by Milos in the second set, it’s difficult to come back. But as you say, when I was starting the rally, I was able to turn it in my favor. I was able to win many free points with my serve, so it was a very good first set.

Q. Khachanov tomorrow, what do you know about him? What do you expect?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Well, he’s at this stage because he knows how to win. It’s going to be tough. He serves very well. All the players nowadays serve well. It’s going to be a complicated match again. He’s very good, very explosive, so I will need to impose my game on him.

I can’t give him time to dictate the point. I need to be the one putting pressure on him, on my serves and on my returns. If I do that, the best can happen.