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Auger-Aliassime feels he was “rewarded for digging deep” after being down two sets to love

The Canadian, who could face Rafael Nadal in the Round of 16 at Roland-Garros, won his first match at the French Open on Sunday after coning down from two sets to love

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime in action during his first round match against Peru's Juan Pablo Varillas Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in action during his first round match against Peru’s Juan Pablo Varillas Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Felix Auger-Aliassime is now a match-winner in every Grand Slam tournament, after his victory against the qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas in the first round of Roland-Garros on Sunday. A difficult one, as the Canadian, seeded No 9, came back from two-sets-to-love down to win in five sets (2-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3).

“I really hoped for better. But I think that’s why also I wanted to really push myself and really try everything and feel like, whatever the result is, when I finish a match, I feel like I left it all on the court”, said Auger-Aliassime, during his press conference on Sunday, after winning against Varillas.

Felix Auger-Aliassime continued: “Because this was an important day for me, an important win. I really wanted to get this first one here. I think I got rewarded for digging deep and finding a way to win”.

On the French clay, Auger-Alissime had only won one qualifying match before Sunday (against Harris in 2018), before losing to Munar. He was aged 17 at the time. In the main draw, he lost against Yoshihito Nishioka in 2020 and Andreas Seppi in 2021. Auger-Aliassime withdrew from 2019 Roland-Garros due to left adductor injury. He has performed much better at the other Slams, with a record of 7-3 at the Australian Open, 6-2 at Wimbledon, and 8-4 at US Open.

Tactical mistake by Auger-Aliassime

“Varillas played a good level. I think I played him once in (ITF) Futures five years ago, but very different player today. He showed up with a great level. But in a way, I was making him play well with the way I was playing, a little bit too flat, putting the ball exactly where he wanted all the time”, he explained.

It was dangerous because it took me a long time to figure out what to change. But once I did, then little by little, to get that first break and then to, start feeling more comfortable as the match went on, then things got better for me, for sure.”

Felix Auger-Aliassime affirmed: “The way the match started wasn’t due to nerves or stress. I felt comfortable. So there was nothing with the court that impacted me in a negative way, really”. Asked why he didn’t show more emotions or stress at 6-2, 6-2 against him, Auger-Aliassime said that the contest was one he could handle.

“I always focus on the game, contest, rather than the score, which is kind of something you don’t really control or it’s kind of external. I think I focus on: ‘Okay, why am I down two sets to love?’ Because I’m playing this way or because I’m not putting enough returns, not serving well enough. Then I try to change that”, Felix Auger-Aliassime smiled.

The Canadian concluded: “Of course once I got the first break, it was a relief, because I spent two sets without being able to break him. Then to get that first break, go up 3-1 and then serve well and 4-1, and then, I had more belief in me. But I don’t think also at any point I lost belief, because I know how I can play, I know what my level is, and I knew that if I hung in there and if I tried to find a way to change things around, I would get my opportunity”.

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