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“It’s nice to say that I was able to beat him finally” – Felix Auger-Aliassime takes confidence from “really important win” over Nadal

Though Rafael Nadal isn’t in peak form at the moment, Felix Auger-Aliassime still sees his victory over the 22-time Slam champion as an “important” career milestone.

Felix Auger-Aliassime 2022 Nitto ATP Finals Felix Auger-Aliassime 2022 Nitto ATP Finals || Imago / Panoramic

Felix Auger-Aliassime has been ticking off boxes one by one in 2022. The 22-year-old tasted ATP Cup glory at the start of the season, as he clinched victory for Canada; he notched his first career ATP title in February; more recently, the Montreal native reeled off a career-best 16-match win streak to assure qualification for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

By all accounts it has been a brilliant season for Auger-Aliassime – and it keeps getting better. On Tuesday in Turin he earned his first career victory over Rafael Nadal, a reward for being so solid on indoor hard courts.

Auger-Aliassime, who handed Nadal his fourth consecutive loss (6-3, 6-4) to bolster his own chances of semi-final qualification at Turin, says it is impossible to underestimate the importance of such a win, even if Nadal is nowhere near his top form this week.

Auger-Aliassime – an important win at an important tournament

“It’s a special win,” he told reporters. “It’s never easy to beat players of this caliber. So it brings a lot of confidence to me. It’s nice to say that I was able to beat him finally, then also at [the ATP Finals], which is not like I beat him at a lower-level tournament. It was an important win for me in this tournament to stay alive and to keep going.

“For these two reasons, it’s a really important win for me.”

The Canadian has now completed the triad of Big 3 victories. He defeated Roger Federer last year on the grass at Halle, then took out Novak Djokovic two months ago at Laver Cup. On Tuesday he earned his first triumph over Nadal in three contests, after losing to the Spaniard at Madrid in 2019 and in the round of 16 at Roland-Garros earlier this season (in five sets).

Felix Auger-Aliassime ATP Finals

Extra motivation to face the greats

Auger-Aliassime, who will face Taylor Fritz on Thursday as he seeks to reach the semi-finals on his Turin debut, is happy that the victory keeps him in the hunt for one of the ATP’s biggest titles. With a 28-6 record indoors in 2022, it’s certainly not a stretch to imagine the 22-year-old making a run at the title.

“I think was just an opportunity for me to win my match, to keep going in the tournament,” he said of his impressive victory over top-seeded Nadal. “Extra motivation to play [Nadal]. Always when you play great players, you try to bring the best out of yourself. That’s what I was able to do today.

“It’s special. The fact that I was able now to beat him and some of the best – Novak in Laver Cup, Roger before – it’s special memories as a young player.”

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