Last weekend, when most players were beginning their grass court season, Félix Auger-Aliassime was busy defending his title in Lyon, playing on a surface he likes very much, red clay. Félix certainly had a lot of pressure on his shoulders seeing as he had crucial points to defend from last year. He was able to manage this pressure like a pro and went on to take home his third career title on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Beyond the trophy, the win also represents a moral victory for the Canadian, as the gamble that Félix made is paying off. Indeed, the young 17-year-old decided to skip the grass court season to continue to play in a few tournaments on clay. Even though a first appearance in the Wimbledon qualifying draw was tempting, Félix is focused on his long-term vision. His career objectives are ambitious and he knows very well that in order to reach them, the next few years are crucial for his development.
“I recently played in a series of eight clay court tournaments which concluded at Roland-Garros. Despite all my hard work, the results did not meet my expectations. Still, I felt that my game was improving and that we were in the process of building something good with my team, both physically and mentally. I consider my work unfinished, so I want to continue, because I believe that I can reap the benefits in the coming weeks.”
It is with this in mind that he made the difficult choice to continue his clay court season, even if it meant missing the third Grand Slam of the year as well as the Canadian Challenger tournaments in Winnipeg, Gatineau and Granby.
“It was not an easy decision and it is one that we did not take lightly,” declared Félix. “I have always enjoyed playing tournaments at home in front of my family, friends and Canadian tennis fans. I have had great memories playing Challenger events in Canada and these tournaments have been important in my development. It was notably in Drummondville and Granby that I got the opportunity to start my career at the professional level.”
In fact, in 2015, when he was only 14 years old, Félix surprised the tennis world by qualifying for the main draw at the Drummondville National Bank Challenger. He topped that a few months later in Granby when he became the youngest player in history to reach the quarter-finals at a Challenger event.
“This year, I felt like I had a mission that needed to be finished on the clay. It will be another long journey which will lead me to the Rogers Cup. This is a tournament that I am obviously very excited for, especially since an injury prevented me from taking part last year in Montreal.”
Some people might have made a different choice if they had been in his place. They might say that when you have the chance to play Wimbledon, you take it. However, life also teaches us that we have to trust ourselves and listen to our instincts. Sometimes, taking calculated risks can pay off. And Félix knows very well that if he continues to do the right things, there will be many other opportunities to play Wimbledon.