The field has been announced for the 2017 Rogers Cup, which will be held in Montreal from 4 to 13 August. Among the players who have received a wild card for the event: 16-year-old Félix Auger-Aliassime, who recently became the seventh youngest player to win his first Challenger Tour title.
Cool, humble, down-to-earth, the 2016 U.S. Open junior champion had a lot to say about this new experience coming for him. “[There is] a lot of anxiety, a lot of excitement”, he said about the prospect of playing his first Masters 1000 main draw, in front of his home crowd. “There will obviously be a lot of focus on the next generation, Denis [Shapovalov] and myself. Afterwards, I think it will be important to have a good preparation, to get there in shape, to arrive ready for the start of the week. Then it will be important to play every match and to take pleasure in playing in Montreal, at home, in a place that I know well, to have a blast, and to have fun playing.”
“[Playing at home] is a moment I’ve been thinking about for a while. Of course, coming here when I was little and seeing the greatest tennis players in the world playing here in Montreal, at the Rogers Cup, and now playing in the same draw, it’s something that I hadn’t imagined would happen so soon for me. I thought that maybe I’d play this tournament later in my career, but I did a lot of things prematurely. In the last weeks, in the last months, I felt that it was a reachable thing.”
– Félix Auger-Aliassime
Auger-Aliassime to play his first match on his birthday
When the players field has been announced, and the presence of the Big Five all but confirmed (more than on paper), Tournament Director Eugène Lapierre also had a special announcement to make: there will be a special Canadian Next Gen session, on Tuesday 8 August.
On Félix Auger-Aliassime’s birthday.
“It’s a very nice birthday present”, said Félix. “I think it’s quite a dream seventeenth birthday.”
What would be his dream matchup for this day? He laughed. “Well… If I could play Federer, on my birthday, and on his birthday as well, it would really be a dream for me.” Of course, it will not happen since the Swiss has a first-round Bye, but it is still a nice, cute thought.
A very mature young man
Félix Auger-Aliassime may only be 16 years of age, he is a very mature young man.
About the extra pressure he may feel, he said: “I think that the pressure will come from myself. I am the one who want to perform well at home. I don’t pay much attention to external pressure. It’s really me who’ll want to perform to the best of my capacities. A match doesn’t change a career or anything. I think [the Rogers Cup] really is an occasion to have fun an play a good tennis match.”
However, the comment that struck us the most is this one:
“I’m conscious [that there are ups and downs]. Even at the lowest levels, like last year, there are downs. For exemple, last summer, I wasn’t winning as many matches as I would’ve liked on the Challenger Tour. But that’s the reality in the life of an athlete, in the life of a tennis player. I’m on a high right now; then you try to continue on your run for as long as possible. But someday, yes, we will all hit a wall, we’ll have more difficult days and months. I think that [the key] is to stay calm, look at the whole picture, and tell yourself that it’s not so bad, in the end.”
Mature beyond his age, you said?