Emerging Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime is finally starting to cash in on the potential he has always shown with a remarkable run of form late in 2022.
After securing a spot in the ATP finals, Auger Aliassime's run through the Paris Masters came to an end early this morning AEDT within sight of history.
We recently wrote about the emerging crop of talent that could lead the post “Big 3” charge, and Felix was perhaps considered a level below the likes of Medvedev, Alcaraz and even Sinner.
The main question mark that sat on all of the emerging stars was their mental resilience, and any scarring that they may have experienced in big matches.
Medvedev’s brutal Aus Open final loss to Nadal for example, and also the loss of Tsitsipas to Djokovic in the 2021 French Open final.
You could argue neither player has been quite the same since those respective results, albeit still highly competitive.
The 22-year-old Canadian had similar queries, having lost all eight ATP finals he had contested prior to this year. He had lost all 16 sets in those finals as well.
Whilst close losses in big slam matches have seemingly hurt others, they seem to have had the opposite effect on Auger Aliassime.
The current world No.8 lost a five-set cliff-hanger to Medvedev at the Australian Open and again to Nadal at the French.
Those matches hinted that he was closing the gap more than it suggested he couldn’t deliver when it mattered.
What has followed has been a remarkable run of form, with records tumbling and confidence growing all the time, resulting in three straight titles and 17 consecutive match victories.
The run ended at the hands of another emerging star Holger Rune overnight in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters.
He had already become just the second player in 11 years to win three titles in three weeks.
He also at one point held serve in 93 consecutive games, facing only 17 break point chances in those 93 games and winning a remarkable 82% of points on serve.
He has also won 12 of his last 13 sets to go with titles in Firenze (Italy), European Open (Belgium) and the Swiss Indoor Championships.
Only Casper Ruud last year has achieved the feat of three straight titles since Andy Murray in his heyday in 2011.
Tennis legend turned commentator Mats Wilander spoke about the Laver Cup form that has sparked this run.
“The Laver Cup has given him a lot of confidence.” Wilander said
“I don’t think you can put a value on spending a week with John McEnroe and his brother (Patrick).” He told Eurosport this week.
“I think the motivation factor has always been there for Felix, I just think he was only lacking in the confidence department.
“Everyone else needs to be very aware because when he’s playing well his serve is absolutely huge.
“Novak Djokovic is the best athlete I’ve seen on court in the last 6-7 years, but Felix can match him in every single department physically. It’s great to see.”
Auger Aliassime beat Djokovic at the Laver Cup and hasn’t looked back from that day. He has grabbed a spot in the top 8 at Turin for the ATP Finals, and would enter 2023 alongside Alcaraz, Rune and Medvedev as the players most likely to break the Djokovic/Nadal stranglehold on the Slams.
The missing link will be consistent output against the top echelon, with only one of his 16 consecutive victories coming against players in the top 20, but for the year he has beaten Alcaraz twice, Djokovic, Sinner twice, Norrie three times, Rublev and Zverev.
The fact the two most exciting talents in the game are 22 and 19 years of age can only be a great thing for the sport, and when legends like Djokovic and Nadal move on, the game will remain in very good hands. Just as we are seeing with Swiatek on the Women’s tour