A golden opportunity for a player “bigger than tennis”

It is by Nick Kyrgios and it refers to Félix Auger-Aliassime. You know everything. We will come back to this because, first of all, it was a question of a rare opportunity for the Quebecer.

Auger-Aliassime is now in the quarter-finals of the National Bank Open, a feat that no colleague from the province had achieved before him since the beginning of the modern era of tennis (1968).

Above all, he is there as the second highest ranked player among the survivors of this particularly cruel table with the favorites. Only Casper Ruud, his next opponent, and Hubert Hurkacz are members of the world top 10.

Afterwards, we quickly fall beyond 30th place with, of course, this Australian flat, the free electron Kyrgios.

Nevertheless, when Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil had reached this stage in 2013, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were still holding their ranks, quite straight, as they have been doing since, one would say, Ezekiel (why would Methuselah have all credit?).

In 2017, during the career of Denis Shapovalov, Alexander Zverev, then 8th in the world and on the rise, had blocked his way. Had he walked on the German, Roger Federer was waiting for him in the final. Complicated it all.

In short, the door opened wide in the absence of Nadal and Djokovic, as well as with the hasty exits of the first three seeds, Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Opportunity and trap. Auger-Aliassime is well aware of this.

I will try to take advantage of this opportunity, but the fact remains that my table is really not easy. I play against Casper [Ruud], I saw him play just now. He played a very good match, at a very high level. He made a Masters 1000 final this year. He is good on clay, but he has become complete. [Vendredi]it’s a very good test to see where I am. »

A quote from Felix Auger-Aliassime

For Friday, we don’t know yet, but on Thursday, we understood quite quickly where he was. Somewhere close to the stars to the chagrin of Briton Cameron Norrie, quickly dismissed in two sets of 6-3 and 6-4.

The 9th in the world served the fire from the start of the meeting and never released his grip. He finished the match with stratospheric figures of 85% of first balls in play and 92% of points won on them.

It was not so daring of him to let go in front of the journalists that he becoming more and more a very good server.

He added all the same knowing that he can be one of the very good servers on the circuit and that[il] proved it again today. Nothing to say about that.

He appeared quite liberated too. A little tense in front of Yoshihito Nishioka on Wednesday evening, embarrassed by the night lighting in his service motion, he also confided in passing, it was nothing against Norrie.

To have won the first game, it took a lot of weight off my shoulders, a lot of pressure. The scenario where I come back here after three years of wanting to play as many games as possible in front of the Quebec public, it would have been a shame to lose the first game. Winning it frees me up a bit, and to say to myself: “Ok, that’s it, now I can try to concentrate on the rest of the tournament”argued Auger-Aliassime.

If he can keep up the pace, the duel against Ruud promises. The Norwegian beat him once on clay and the Canadian played the same trick on him in their only confrontation on hard court.

Interesting, okay. Rather, the biggest danger in all of this lies in what could follow, should the 22-year-old win: a potential clash against the man of the hour, winner in Washington and runner-up at Wimbledon, winner of 14 of his 15 last matches, Nick Kyrgios, faced with Hurkacz.

Nick Kyrgios

Photo: The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson

It will not be easy for either of them, but this duel hovers in the background in Jarry Park and some are salivating in advance.

Kyrgios seems to have channeled his distaste for the media, still brilliantly on display on Thursday after his victory, and his frustrations into a desire for battle. He now sees himself as a role model and wants to inspire millions of people.

At 27, he seems to have matured a bit and is beginning to realize the success that could be within reach of him.

He also recognized it when he was asked about Auger-Aliassime.

Dithyrambic about the Quebecer, he served him a warning despite everything based on experience, which, firstly, can not be bought is not it, and can hardly be replaced.

As long as he keeps a cool head and doesn’t do stupid things like I did when I was young, I think he can achieve a lot more than me and fight to win titles grand slam. He’s an incredible player. »

A quote from Nick Kyrgios on Felix Auger-Aliassime

There’s no limit for someone like himhe added.

I think he is one of the few who can accomplish great things. It goes beyond tennis. His impact may be greater than just the one he has on sportestimated Kyrgios.

Time will tell, Nick. In the meantime, Auger-Aliassime already has the opportunity to accomplish great things in tennis. A good first step.

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