Félix Auger-Aliassime, who was playing in the third tournament of the clay court season, which happens to be his surface of choice, had great ambitions despite having a rather tough draw in front of him.
After having overcome his first test against his fellow-Canadian and good friend Denis Shapovalov, who he defeated for the first time in their second match at the professional level, the Quebec native had the difficult task of facing none other than Rafael Nadal.
Everyone was waiting impatiently for this match-up between the Next Gen and the King of Clay. Although he put up a valiant fight, the 18-year-old Canadian fell 6-3, 6-3 to the Spaniard, the current world no. 2.
Auger-Aliassime held his own in the opening games, firing some incredible shots and taking advantage of a Nadal who seemed to be bothered by the winds that were blowing at 35 km/h on Centre Court. Nadal, however, capitalized on the problems that the Canadian was experiencing with his forehand as well as with his baseline hitting.
Down by two breaks at the end of the match, Auger-Aliassime gave a glimmer of hope to fans by breaking his opponent, but the Spaniard was able to seal the win on his sixth match-point opportunity after a battle that lasted an hour and 37 minutes.
Rafa’s Madrid mission is up and running 💪
Will he claim the #MMOPEN 🏆 once again in 2019?
— ATP Tour (@ATP_Tour) May 8, 2019
The Canadian was only able to put 65% of his first serves in play while his opponent managed 84%. He also fired 30 unforced errors compared to Nadal’s 16.
In his first ever meeting with a player of this caliber, Auger-Aliassime did not disappoint. It will undoubtably serve as a great learning experience for the young Canadian.
Feature photo: Mutua Madrid Open