Auger-Aliassime finally wants to shine on the mud at Roland Garros

Stephanie Miles, The Canadian Press

PARIS – Felix Auger-Aliassime doesn’t think he is a victim of bad luck at the French Open, but the Canadian 1 seed is still searching for his first win in the main draw on clay in Paris.

The 21-year-old Kipker has traveled Europe over the past six weeks in hopes of finding his touch in the mud. Now that he’s in Paris, he hopes the fifth time will be the good time.

After all, it’s not as if Auger-Aliassime is unable to succeed on clay.

The first final of his career on the ATP Tour, in Rio de Janeiro when he was 18, happened on this rooftop. He has several clay-court competitor titles to his name. And in 2016, he reached the junior final of the French Open.

However, although he has run long distances in the other three major tournaments, Auger-Aliassime has not made a breakthrough at Roland Garros.

“I lost twice in the first round, which happened to me in other tournaments. In these, I managed to win the first match and then things were unblocked. Nothing special here,” Auger-Aliassime said on Friday.

He will play his first round match on Sunday against Peruvian qualifier Juan Pablo Farias.

Auger-Aliassime finds himself in the “death quarter” of the standings table, alongside defending champion Novak Djokovic and French Open 13th champion Rafael Nadal. Auger-Aliassime could find Nadal on his way in the fourth round.

Before that, Auger-Aliassime will have to defeat Varillas, 104th in the world rankings. Farias, 26, will play his first major draw match at Roland Garros.

The two players have faced each other before. A few weeks before the junior final in Paris, 15-year-old Auger-Aliassime defeated Varelas, then 665th in the world, in one of the tournaments held in Spain.

Auger-Aliassime only needed two years to advance from the boys’ final to the men’s qualifiers in 2018. However, he taught him in the second round of qualifiers against Spain’s Jaume Munnar.

In 2019, Auger-Aliassime reached the final in Lyon a week earlier than Paris. He also sustained a thigh injury and had to retire before his first official match at the French Open.

In 2020, the tournament was held in October due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the end, Auger-Aliassime appeared in his first major draw as the 19th seed. However, he lost in three sets against Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka.

Eight months later, in May 2021, Auger-Aliassime had another tough match and lost in four sets to veteran Italian Andreas Seppi in the opening round.

“Luck has not smiled at me in previous years and I have not played at a very high level in the last two editions, admitted Auger-Aliassime. But I am getting better every year. I came here a little better and I hope to play better than I have been in the past.

Auger-Aliassime is running the 2022 season on a roller coaster, although he was able to stay in the world’s top ten.

He won his first ATP title in February in Rotterdam in his ninth final and followed that up the following week with another appearance in Marseille.

However, the US portion of the schedule was disastrous, with setbacks in his first tours of Indian Wells and Miami.

Auger-Aliasime filled her schedule during the clay court season, appearing in six tournaments. He won a few matches, but experienced some discomfort.

It wasn’t until the Madrid Masters that he finally felt things were starting to turn out. He then beat No. 12 Yannick Sener, on his way to the quarter-finals.

The following week in Rome, he was in poor shape in the first round against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovic Fokina and needed lumbar treatment on the field. But Auger-Aliassime turned the tide on his way to victory and another appearance in the quarter-finals.

He then crossed swords with Djokovic for the first time in his career and lost 7-5, 7-6 (1) after a good fight.

“It was a good match against Novak, who played well at the right time and who was the champion when it was necessary,” said Auger-Aliassime. I’m going in the right direction. I’m feeling good and I’m confident in the level I’ve played in the past few weeks.”

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