Felix Auger-Aliassime tosses the ball up to serve.

Photo : Martin Sidorjak

Results come and go.

In many ways, that sums up Félix Auger-Aliassime’s season thus far.

At this time last year, he was coming off a record 15 wins and 10 losses. But from March 21 to June 21, 2023, he’s 2–5. The cause seems to be an unrelenting knee injury that’s just forced him to withdraw from the Halle Open and miss critical prep for Wimbledon.

Photo : Eurosport – Indigo

It may have been a so-so spring on the court, but Félix still found time to cement his brand image and his reputation as an upright and generous person.

Read also: Auger-Aliassime Can’t Find a Rhythm Against Fognini

In addition to confirming several new partnerships, he really aced it with a powerful humanitarian and charitable gesture when he signed on to be the spokesperson for Grow Beyond—the largest fundraising campaign ever to be led by a single Québec hospital—to help the CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation collect $500 million by 2028.

Source : Fondation Hôpital Sainte-Justine

On June 16, he told La Presse newspaper how emblematic the pediatric hospital is for Montréal and all of Québec and emphasized the campaign’s significance for society as a whole.

Read also: Onwards Towards Wimbledon

He also turned the spotlight on the leading-edge medical technology that’ll be acquired through the initiative for the better treatment and early prevention of childhood illnesses thanks to tools including genetic tests and AI.

Beyond the philanthropic campaign, Ste-Justine also happens to be where he and his sister Malika were born.

Source : BD Global Management

Just a few weeks earlier, the World No.11 also released his new personal logo.

Like Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Rublev before him, Félix presented the artwork depicting him as a brave knight protected by a shield of his initials FAA.

Read also: The Weight of a Nation for Brits on Grass

The logo is the product of a creative process that got underway in 2019. Auger-Aliassime told La Presse that several ideas emerged, and he ended up preferring his initials to a symbol. The letters in the shape of a shield felt strong and punchy and also refined and clean.

The image of Félix and his logo (above) is taken from a video by BD Global Management, the firm founded by Bernard Duchesneau. Often spotted at tournaments with Félix, he’s been overseeing FAA’s career since it first got rolling.

Duchesneau had an especially great autumn in 2022, when Félix raised back-to-back-to-back winner’s trophies in Europe.

Source : LinkedIn/Bernard Duchesneau

Gabriel goes gangbusters

Photo : Sarah-Jäde Champagne/Tennis Canada

Gabriel Diallo isn’t a wunderkind.

Nonetheless, the 22-year-old has demonstrated a staggering ability to adapt.

As I pointed out last week in this very blog, you only have to look at his results over the past 12 months to note his progress since he cut short his time in the NCAA.

Just a year ago, he was No.941. Fast-forward to today, and he’s No.139.

That’s 802 ranking places!

Read also: The Biggest Wimbledon Warmup Week is Here

A fast learner, for sure.

Martin Laurendeau, who was appointed to oversee Diallo’s transition to the pros, concurs. Martin’s pretty familiar with the process, since he was in Denis Shapovalov’s camp when the young lefty burst onto the scene back in summer 2018.

Photo : Gyslain Bergeron/L’Express

“It’s nothing short of phenomenal. I’d be curious to find out how many players climbed 800 spots in the rankings in a year. And he did it as a university student, juggling exams and Challenger events all over the place. It’s just exceptional!” said Laurendeau, who admitted he’s surprised that Diallo’s rise hasn’t garnered more media attention. “What he’s accomplishing is making a lot of people in tennis—coaches and players—pay attention. In a year, he’s achieved what most people take two or three years to realize.”

Read also: Diallo Wins Montreal ITF Title

So how fast of a learner is he?

Photo : Martin Laurendeau (collection personnelle) 

“He’d never even been near a grass court in his life before we left for England. We arrived in Surbiton five days early so I could get him acquainted with the subtleties of playing on grass and the tactics he needed to learn. And we had to do it as quickly as possible because there are only three tournaments before the Wimbledon qualifiers. That being said, Gabriel has the perfect game for grass: he’s a heavy hitter with a powerful serve.”

Read Also: Diallo Caps Off Magical Granby Run with First Challenger Title

And Diallo didn’t disappoint. At the very first grass-court tournament of his career, he defeated British veterans Liam Brody and No.25 Dan Evans at home to fight his way into the quarters.

Then he did it again the following week in Nottingham, where he secured two wins.

Read also: Layne Sleeth and Cleeve Harper Shine in NCAA

Keep a close eye on Gabriel’s upcoming matches on the grass and hard courts as the Tour heads to North America for the rest of the summer and the National Bank Open and the US Open.

No matter what happens next, it’s important to remember the work of coaches like Martin Laurendeau. They’re tennis’ diamond cutters—the unsung heroes who shape the raw stones into precious gems.  For our enjoyment.


Email: privard@tenniscanada.com

Twitter : @paul6rivard

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