The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

PRESS CONFERENCE: Felix Auger-Aliassime (d. Pospisil) 1R

August 6, 2019

Tuesday, August 6, 2019
6-2, 6-7, 7-6

Q. Going into the third set at 4-4, down Love-30 there, how did you find your composure and how critical is that process as you’re trying to move forward and establish yourself on this tour?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I don’t remember that actually (smiling). That’s how close I was to losing actually. They asked in French if I ever had doubts or was scared of losing. I mean, for sure.

Now I remember being down Love-30 in that game. Losing those two next points, probably the match would have been over.

What else can you do than just give it all? I tried to find a good first serve, play to win. That’s what I was able to do.

But I think I came back also from situations like this in the past. If I remember also in Lyon, I was down Love-40, being down a set at the end of the second, similar situations have happened before. I think that’s why I was able today to stay composed and step up my game when I needed to.

Q. Is that what you’re telling yourself in your head at those types of moments, get your first serve in?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, I think that’s something just instinctive in life. When your back is against the wall, you usually show up with something good. I think in any case in life, that’s what you do.

If you look at a lot of players, especially great players, whenever they need to, they usually play good points, serve well. I think I found that extra energy in me to serve well those four points and get that game.

I think you don’t really think about it, but instinctively you play good points, I guess, yeah.

Q. You said in Washington that match against Cilic was one of the worst matches you played all year. For you to rebound the way you did at home, with all the pressure, are you extra pleased you did so well today?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, I’m pleased that I won. Would have been tough to lose that one. But, yeah, I think that match against Cilic, I moved on from it really quickly. It was a tough match, on the serve especially. I know I had a lot of difficulties.

At the end of the day you have to accept it. No one said it was going to be easy. I think I have to remind myself that it’s okay to face difficulties.

Today, again, there’s a lot of tough moments, but I was able to deal with them in a good way every time. There’s a lot of positives to take from that.

Q. In the 15, 16 months since playing Milos at Indian Wells, in what way has your game grown the most that can help play him specifically?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I mean, first, it’s crazy to me that it’s just a year ago, a year and a half ago. It feels like such a long time ago. Even if I look at myself physically back then, I changed a lot. Mentally, as well.

For sure I have the confidence that I can win against these type of players. I’m not as nervous stepping on these big courts. That’s also a big change.

I think the overall trust in my game is much more different than before. I think overall everything in my game has improved, from the groundstrokes, my return, my serve.

Yeah, we’ll see what I can do tomorrow. For sure I’m a complete different player.

Q. A couple days ago Rafael Nadal was speaking about you, saying that you’re passionate, smart, great for the sport of tennis. Your thoughts hearing about that from someone who you probably looked up to?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy that in such a short time, I went from two years ago, they started hearing about me, then you’re like, Wow, Rafa actually knows who I am, he knows my name. Now today they say these type of things about you. It’s a great feeling. I think it just shows I’m doing the right things, I’m on the good path.

But at the end of the day these players, they can say great things about you. After it’s in your hands. You have to step on court. You have to keep working hard, keep doing the right things.

For sure that helps me saying to myself, Okay, I’m doing good things right now.

Q. Kei Nishikori talked about how playing at home, he felt stuck. It was hard to move. Were you feeling like that in the second set tiebreaker? It looked like you were feeling a bit frustrated with some of the shots.

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I can almost recall every point. I won the first point, returning well. Then I double-faulted. That was bad because I got the mini break, then played a bad point. I won my next point. Then he served well twice, was up 3-2. What else can I do?

I was a bit unlucky. I broke my strings. Went up 4-2. I played a good point again. He served well twice. I think he aced me from 4-3 twice. If I recall every point, there’s not much I could have done. Maybe a few returns, not make that double-fault.

I didn’t feel that it was pressure or legs not moving or feeling nervous. I think he just stepped up his game. I was unlucky. He served well. He played well the last point at 6-3.

I wasn’t that frustrated against myself in that tiebreak. I think I could have done better things before in the set. I think he just played better in that tiebreak.

Q. Nishikori said it took him some time before he could feel comfortable in Tokyo. How did you feel today?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I think you can see that I was okay from the beginning of the match. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better start. I felt well. I broke him at the start. Of course, he broke me back.

I believe I played an almost perfect set. After it was a good tennis match. If I played that match in California or somewhere else, given the way Vasek was playing, we would have had the same scenario. It was just a matter of taking opportunities on breakpoints. He was serving well.

I tried to take my chances in the tiebreaker. I’m really happy in the end that I was able to win.

Q. The fact of playing doubles yesterday, with less pressure, in spite of the fact that the crowd was big, allowed you to get used to the surface for today?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I believe so. But as soon as I stepped onto that court, I felt good. I got my bearings on the court, the crowd and everything. I don’t know exactly if the doubles made a difference. I think it was a good thing that I did.

Q. Did you say a few words to Vasek after the match? He had a lot of injuries lately. It was a good match.

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: It was difficult, indeed. I didn’t want to celebrate the victory too much because he’s a friend. It’s difficult to find the words in the spur of the moment. I told him it was a very good match. I wished him good luck for the future.

In the locker room, I saw him again. I told him it was a very good match, that he was working hard.

Q. Can you talk about how you played in the match?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Well, I played a very good set, first set. I have no problems with that. But then in the other two sets, sometimes at 15-30 or deuce I maybe didn’t do the right thing. I, of course, played well because he was serving very well. Maybe once or twice there was a loss of quality in my returns. Maybe that cost me some return games.

But I was able to remain calm all along and to serve well. So this helped me be clear enough to win that match.

Q. Do you believe at certain stages that you were scared to lose at the end of the match?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Well, I would be lying if I was saying I wasn’t scared to lose the match because both players in a match like this are always afraid that they will lose it and it will go to the opponent.

In the second and the third set there were moments when there were just two points and I would have lost and it would have changed the outcome. I was very relieved when the match was over.

Of course, you need some time before the excitement calms down.

Q. You played once against Milos last year. What do you remember from that match?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I was not at a good level. That’s what I remember. I was not at the level of Milos. He dominated most of the time. But I believe tomorrow will be a totally different scenario. I’m a different player myself.

But he’s difficult to play. He doesn’t give you any pace or rhythm. Often games go by and you have no opportunities for rallies. If I play as I played last week when I boat Opelka in Washington, if I can use that type of game and those returns, maybe I can make a difference tomorrow. But the match will be complicated.

Q. We were talking about the way you were managing the crowd during the match. Is it an additional challenge for you?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I believe I used the crowd in my favor today. Maybe earlier I would have been under pressure, but this match I was able to take the crowd with me, and that was positive.

I think people were just proud and happy to see two Canadian players give it their all for two and a half hours. I think we had a great battle. The crowd was very respectful with Vasek also, which is good.