Defeat against Medvedev: Auger-Aliassime came close to creating a surprise

Félix Auger-Aliassime did not beat Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open, but the Quebecer can claim to have had the world number 2 in the cables and to have been a very small point to triumph . A feat in itself, against one of the strong men of the moment on the ATP.

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This loss in extremis of 6-7 (4), 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5 and 6-4, conceded Wednesday morning, Quebec time, is a big step forward for Félix after two outings laborious against the Russian, at the last US Open then at the ATP Cup, at the beginning of January.

“It’s a pity that I couldn’t win, but it was a good match, pointed out the ninth seed at a press conference. I showed great things.

“I always thought I could play this level of game,” he said. But there is a difference between believing it and realizing it. I think I sent a good message to other players. I am ready to compete with the best, I have proven it game after game, ”he continued.

A match point

In an interview, the 21-year-old was posed, seemingly calm despite the defeat.

However, the loss against Medvedev is all the more heartbreaking as the result of this hard battle, concluded after 4 hours 42 minutes of play, would have been reversed if Felix had materialized the break point offered to him by his rival at 5-4 in the fourth set.

The Russian, favorite in Melbourne in the absence of Serbian Novak Djokovic, erased it thanks to his imposing service.

When leaving the field, Félix Auger-Aliassime greeted the crowd who supported him well in his duel against Daniil Medvedev.

Photo AFP

When leaving the field, Félix Auger-Aliassime greeted the crowd who supported him well in his duel against Daniil Medvedev.

He eventually tied the game after trailing two sets to nil.

Two sets during which the pride of L’Ancienne-Lorette was dominant, responding blow for blow to Medvedev’s game.

A “crazy” caliber

Félix notably shone on serve for the vast majority of the match, with 18 aces against only four double faults and, above all, an impressive 78% of points won on his first serve.

But the United States Open champion snatched the ticket to the semi-finals by taking advantage of the Quebecois’ largesse at the start of the final set.

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He smashed his young opponent early in the set. Auger-Aliassime took advantage in turn of an opportunity to break at 4-3, but saw his chance to level the score fly away when he made a backhand error.

“I had no more confidence after the first two rounds, conceded Medvedev. His caliber of play was insane. I had never seen him play like this, at least against me or in training. »

“Maybe he’s played like that before, I don’t see all his games. But I had never seen him like this. It was crazy. »

Inspired by Djokovic

Medvedev is not world number 2 for nothing, however. The 25-year-old hung on, helped in particular by the closing of the roof, which lowered the temperature at the center.

And, he admitted on the field, he was inspired by the one ahead of him in the standings. A revelation which, due to the controversy surrounding Djokovic and his expulsion from Australia, earned him some boos from the fans.

“Between rounds, I had no self-confidence. I asked myself: what would the best players in the world do? “he said in a press briefing.

“I’m part of it, but I’m still far in terms of Grand Slam victories. Whenever I felt overwhelmed, I said to myself: do like Novak. Show him that you are the best. »

Like the best

The formula worked well and Medvedev will face, tonight or tonight, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (4e favourite) for a place in the final. Tsitsipas eliminated the Italian Jannik Sinner (11e) in three straight sets of 6-3, 6-4 and 6-2.

The other men’s semi-final will feature Spaniard Rafael Nadal (6e) and the Italian Matteo Berrettini (7e).

As for Auger-Aliassime, he leaves Melbourne with a third quarter-final (or better) in as many majors.

The Quebecer showed a lot of tenacity during the fortnight.

From the first round, Félix worked hard to overcome the Finn Emil Ruusuvuori, 90e in the world, against whom he trailed two sets to one.

He then defeated the British Daniel Evans (24e) and the Croatian Marin Cilic (27e), two players he had never managed to defeat in the past.

The young top 10 member also leaves Melbourne with a good idea of ​​what aspects of his game need to be tweaked to progress further.

“I will leave Australia with my head held high and I will go into the rest of the season knowing that I can play well against the best in the world,” said Felix.

Felix will continue to progress

In defeat, Félix Auger-Aliassime delivered one of the finest performances of his career. But what is “great” with the young player, believes Eugène Lapierre, is “that he continues to progress at each stage of his career”.

Already, the level of play shown by Felix against Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday was light years ahead of his recent performances against the Russian, at the last United States Open and at the ATP Cup.

The Quebecer then suffered losses of 6-4, 7-5 and 6-2 (in New York), then 6-4 and 6-0 (in Sydney).

“Yesterday, Félix made fewer mistakes, he held up better in the long rallies,” noted Mr. Lapierre, director of the Montreal National Bank Open.

“In his other games against Medvedev, when there was a long exchange, we were sure that the Russian was going to win the point. We had the impression that there was this kind of pattern, but not [hier]. And he served very well. »

“Medvedev is someone who gave him a lot of problems in the past. But there, Félix was equal, he even dominated sets. It’s very, very encouraging for the future,” added the former Quebec coach, Guillaume Marx, who now holds the position of chief performance officer at Tennis Canada.

In the top 10 to stay

Former director of a tennis academy in the Quebec region, Jacques Hérisset is close to the Aliassime family. He is delighted to see a boy from here deliver such a performance on the biggest stage and serve as an example for the athletes here.

He also agrees with Mr. Lapierre: “Félix has worked very hard mentally and physically in the last few months,” said Mr. Hérisset. But the best thing about him is that there is still room for improvement. »

Eugène Lapierre, he also seems convinced of one thing: in light of his recent progress, the young tennis star “is in the top 10 to stay there”.

Auger-Aliassime should also remain ninth in the world when the new ATP rankings are released on Monday. He will play his next tournament in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, from February 5-13.

He must learn to play the key points better

Both Félix Auger-Aliassime and the tennis experts consulted on Wednesday agree on one thing: to beat the best, the Quebecer will have to learn to play the important points better.

Asked what he missed to snatch victory from Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday, Felix first answered, smirking: “One point. Then, the young player added: “The level of play was very good. Over time, I will learn to capitalize on my opportunities. »

Guillaume Marx, ex-coach of the ninth world, also found that the caliber of play of his former protege was getting closer and closer to that of the big seeds. “What he lacks is a bit of time and experience,” said Tennis Canada’s performance manager.

“The match was played on the big points. The break points, the 30-30. A meeting like this will allow him to better understand the important points, and how to approach them”, underlined Eugène Lapierre, director of the Omnium Banque Nationale de Montréal.

Jacques Hérisset, who for a long time directed his tennis academy in the region, proposes for his part
that Auger-Aliassime opts more often for climbs to the net.

A strategy adopted by the Swiss Roger Federer a few years ago, in order to shorten the points. “Unlike Federer, Felix’s goal will not be to save energy, but to break the rhythm. Players are playing further and further from the baseline, he pointed out. And Felix has good hands. »


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