AAA seriously liked Nina Kaipi. The hero’s girlfriend of the day, the beautiful and intelligent Croatian horsewoman, or father Sam from Togo, or French mother Marie from Quebec, Felix Auger-Aliassime can reveal the cocktail’s secret formula: Branded Canada, son of many races enough to add a pinch of pepper, super-technician from Majorca with a documentary past like Toni Nadal, whose date of birth – August 8 – coincides. A telling season finale for the legendary Roger Federer and his grandchildren, three ATP Tour finals won in a row and a historic first Davis Cup for his country.
People didn’t even imagine the story behind the steady and dignified boy who slumped to the floor after a final and decisive one-two, forehand serve in Malaga on Sunday, his definite and essential but highly effective game. Australia is engulfed in the embrace of his teammates as he cries with his head bowed. People don’t understand how many sacrifices parents make to fulfill their child’s dream in a sport as expensive as tennis, and then how much effort they put into making him walk the path of success alone.
Papa Aliasim grew up in Lome and moved to Eldorado, Quebec., as a soccer player/tennis player, at the age of 4 she shoved a racket into her boyfriend’s hand. But many times he feared that the story would end abruptly. After his breakout as a junior, winning the doubles title at the 2015 US Open alongside his “twin” Shapovalov – 16 months “older” – we recall he only spoke of problems.
Indeed, we remember very well that Denis Shapovalov supports his tennis dream partnerAnother heart block hit the court at the 2018 US Open, forcing him to retire from the first head on the ATP tour with his friend, so he needed immediate surgery. To move the vein that was obstructing blood flow.
At 18, the youngest “Top 25” since Lleyton Hewitt in 1999, the youngest ATP 500 finalist in Rio de Janeiro (since 2009) and the youngest semifinalist in Miami (since 1985), he couldn’t stop there. Yet 8 consecutive ATP finals never blossomed with great energy talent and remarkable technical baggage.
He had to wait for who knows how many worries and frustrations until February of this year in Rotterdam, when he overtook Tsitsipas, cleared the barrier and acquitted himself: “It has not been a very smooth road since the first final in three years. But it was a fantastic day to get my first title, the happiest of my career and I hope I get many more like this”.
In fact, it took him a little longer, and in October he got the Florence-Antwerp-Basel race right, which gave him confidence, continuity, stability and credibility. Everyone predicted but it was delayed and the risk of not coming back raised him in the rankings.
How many thoughts were going through the head of the 22-year-old who was about to make Canadian sporting history with a match point against veteran Alex de Minaur and a Canada-Australia 2-0 sub?
“I saw there was room to push, I pushed hard, it was an unbelievable moment when I saw the ball come out and float in the air, waiting for it to come out: it’s a special moment. One plays a lot of matches, but I’ll definitely remember this one. Compared to 2015 Baby Davis. It was definitely something different, but for us 15-16-year-olds at the time, that was also special. That was the moment we started aiming for a real trophy”.
When was he drowned by his companions? “My legs gave up on me, they all fell on me, from the captain to the others, it was fantastic, those were really special moments, you’ve played so many matches over the years but you always remember days like this”.
The promise is a threat: “It’s nice to be a champion, and it’s like a full circle. Vasek (Paspisil) has been part of the national team for many years, I remember watching him play as a kid, he won many important tournaments. Now the youngsters are coming and playing well, We are friends, we grew up together, we are used to living together, this is a very important additional weapon beyond tennis. We have a very good team and we hope to take this program far with this generation. Although there are many strong teams”.
How Felix moved himself to No. 6 in the world As a trusted man, leader of this Canada? Of course uncle Tony Nadal (whose door he knocked on last year) and Rafa himself are of fundamental importance.
“I have immense respect for the Natal family,” points out the Canadian. “Sometimes the nerves still take over, it happens, but I’m improving more and more and with the team by my side everything becomes easier because it takes the pressure off me: I feel like I’m not really alone on the field. But we’re all together. So, to stay positive , in an effort to do my best, I can prevent nerves from taking up too much space in my body”.
Sinner to Rooney make up the Fab Four school, just as there are followers of Djokovic, while Rafa’s followers include the likes of Rudd and Alcaraz. While Auger-Aliassime is somewhere in between, his idol remains Federer, as a sport he is closest to the rubber champion, and as an approach he is certainly inspired by extraterrestrial tennis: “It was a long chase … I lost to Rafa cleanly. For the first time, in Madrid 2019 , I fought hard at the last Roland Garros – I was only defeated in the fifth set and after more than 4 hours of battle – I finally beat him at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin”.
Who knows, as often happened to him, he locked himself in his room playing the piano to let his mind wander. Famous Nina Kaiby, Australian, natural, Ajla Domljanovic, must ask the cousin of Matteo Berrettini’s ex-girlfriend. Felix is a great friend of that. But he connects a lot with Sinner and Musetti. He would find them again as opponents in Davis’ decisive matches the following year. Both are looking for a second cup victory, missing Italy since 1976, and to fish as a wild card after Russia’s table-topping exit, with Canada winning with a pinch of luck. Canada B, though a form of soccer spring formation, lost 4-0 against the Netherlands without jewels Auger-Aliassim and Shapovalov and veteran Pospisil.
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