Q2 Review: Felix's Wimbledon Run Keeps Him In Strong Milan Position
Felix Auger-Aliassime's successful Wimbledon debut saw the teenage prodigy further solidify his place near the top of the ATP Race To Milan. The 18-year-old Canadian gained 90 points at SW19, giving him 1,493 points on the year, good enough for second place.
The Race will determine seven of the eight players who compete at the 21-and-under event, to be held 5-9 November at Palalido Allianz Cloud in Milan, with the eighth place reserved for an Italian wild card.
Auger-Aliassime's rise up the ATP Rankings has been one of the stories of the 2019 season, and in particular the past three months. Auger-Aliassime began the season No. 108 in the ATP Rankings and reached a career-high of No. 21 last month.
The 18-year-old reached his first ATP Tour final in February at the Rio Open presented by Claro, and he backed up that strong run in April, May and June. The Canadian made his second tour-level final at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhones-Alpes in Lyon, an ATP 250 event (l. to Paire), and his third at the MercedesCup, an ATP 250 grass-court event in Stuttgart.
The teenager saved some of his best for the London grass. He reached the semi-finals of the Fever-Tree Championships (l. to Lopez), becoming the youngest semi-finalist at the ATP 500 event 20 years ago (18-year-old Hewitt, 1999).
At Wimbledon, Auger-Aliassime won his first Grand Slam match and made the third round at the All England Club, beating countryman Vasek Pospisil and #NextGenATP Frenchman Corentin Moutet before falling to Ugo Humbert of France in the third round.
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View The ATP Race To Milan
“It's a relief just for any player to get his first Grand Slam win... and it's a good achievement for me. At the same time with the level I'm playing now and my ambitions, I look forward and I look to go even further than that,” Auger-Aliassime said.
All eyes were on the teenager, who was making his Wimbledon debut, but Auger-Aliassime said he's become used to pressure during his young career.
“I don't try to add extra pressure from the outside. I think I put extra pressure from myself already,” he said. “I'm sometimes hard on myself, but I think it's all normal. You have to learn how to deal with it. You can't escape it. You can't hide it. This is in your life and you learn how to deal with it.”
Humbert (560 points) made the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time before falling to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. The 20-year-old left-hander surged to the eighth place in the Race with his career fortnight, passing Moutet (534 points).
“I'm very happy about this match. Felix is a great player and a good friend, so I was really happy to share the court with him. For sure, it will be the Next Generation and the future,” Humbert said after beating Auger-Aliassime.
Seventh-placed Miomir Kecmanovic (617 points) had one of the best stretches of his career on the grass. The Serbian made his first ATP Tour final at the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya (l. to Sonego) and then picked up his first Wimbledon win (d. Carballes Baena).
Greece's #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas was upset in the first round at SW19 (l. to Fabbiano), but the 20-year-old right-hander still paces the Race with 3,040 points. Tsitsipas, the Next Gen ATP Finals defending champion, had one of the best clay-court swings on the ATP Tour.
The Greek won his first clay-court title at the Millennium Estoril Open in Portugal (d. Cuevas), then made the final at the Mutua Madrid Open, the semi-finals at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome and the fourth round at Roland Garros.
Auger-Aliassime's countryman Denis Shapovalov (805 points), American Frances Tiafoe (780) and Norway's Casper Ruud (693) round out the Race's top five. Aussie Alex de Minaur, the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up, (sixth, 640 points) beat three-time ATP Tour titlist Marco Cecchinato of Italy to return to the second round at Wimbledon (2018, third round).