16 April: Felix Auger-Aliassime
Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters
Tuesday, 16 April 2019
F. AUGER-ALIASSIME/J. Londero
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.
Q. There is a real passion for you today. You are being asked to come everywhere. Have you prepared for that? When popularity arrived all of a sudden, was it difficult to cope with?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I think this popularity started little by little. It was not a sudden popularity. It started at my city level and then at province level and then at international level. Therefore, even if I’m young, it’s been quite a few years that I have had to cope with this growing popularity.
So this is not a recent phenomenon, but it is true that this is of a higher scale. I had to adapt to it. But it’s not a big deal. I mean, you just have to remain the same. I just be the same, follow my routine, so this is not really a problem for me.
Q. Can you talk about this match that I imagine wasn’t easy, given that he’s a clay specialist?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, I know. It was a tough match. He already won a title this year. I played against him in South America, and he had victory after victory, so I knew it was going to be difficult. And it was.
But I’m very happy to win my first match after Miami, because I didn’t know what to expect after Miami. But I felt from the beginning I was having a good feeling. And then it wasn’t easy, because he was fighting until the end, and he raised his level of tennis at the end of the match.
But I just had to keep on working, keep on looking for any chance, and I managed to win. That was very important.
Q. Can you tell us, how did you learn to play on clay that well? How you manage to play so well on clay?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Well, in Tennis Canada, they started building clay courts in our National Training Centre, so since I was playing juniors, I started playing on clay courts.
So that decision arrived at a good moment, because I was starting playing at juniors level, and they wanted to make an emphasis on clay for the physical and tennis development.
Then there were lots of tours in South America, in Europe, on clay. Actually, I was here in Cap d’Ail, Beaulieu, Eze. I think that I learned how to play, and I really enjoyed it. I think it’s a very nice surface to play on.
And then when I started playing professional, I started winning, so that gave me confidence. Now I think I will definitely be able to win on any surface, either clay or any other surface.
Q. So what do you think is your favorite surface now? Is it hard surface or clay surface? And which one is going to be your favorite one in the near future?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I think 50/50. I think that today’s tennis has players like Zverev. We can ask the same question about him, and it’s difficult to answer it. He has won Masters on hard surface, on clay, and even on grass.
So it’s a little bit of my style, too. I think I’m able to play on all surfaces. Both are very nice to play on. I believe, though, that on clay the game is more varied and more pleasant to play and to see it played. I like very much this surface, and I think I’m able to win on both kinds of surface.
Q. You didn’t play Wimbledon last year. What about this year?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yes. Actually, last year was just a temporary arrangement for, you know, I was trying to develop myself, to gain more confidence and work more on my clay tennis. I needed to strengthen my clay tennis, is why we made the decision to only play on clay. That is why last year we decided to only play on clay.
And of course in Wimbledon you have to go through the quallies. So this year, with a little bit of luck, I’ll be seeded and then I won’t have to ask myself that question. I’ll definitely go to Wimbledon.
Q. Have you played juniors in Wimbledon once?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yes, once.
Q. And you lost in the first round?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: No, quarterfinals. (Laughter.) It’s okay. It’s good for the first time. Against De Minaur. But I did fine.
Q. You’re going to play against Zverev. How do you prepare for that match?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I think this is a good opportunity. He’s the one who’s more or less the leader of the new generation of tennis players. It’s been a while since he’s been around, so he’s got lots of experience already.
So for me, this is going to be a great opportunity to play against him and to see how I do against him. I believe in my tennis. I am going to try to do my best, and I’m very hopeful that I will adjust my play to his. I’m going to try to dictate the game.
Q. You’re talking about the new generation and all the young players that go from 18 to 20, 21 years old. Do you think this is motivating? Do you watch each other’s playing? Do you compare to each other?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Of course this is motivating for one another. It would be stupid to think that we don’t need any opponent, because otherwise there is no rivalry, there is no matches. We all need the other one to play high-level tennis.
I think that of course the facts of saying that each one of us is playing good and we of course want to be winning, at least personally I find this is very motivating. And I will be able to play against Zverev tomorrow, and that’s going to be good.
Q. Yesterday Rafa Nadal was talking about you as the new generation, saying that you were really good. What do you think of that, the fact that Rafa, a tennis star, was saying good things about you?
FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: That’s a good sign, of course, if he’s talking good about me. It’s great. To start with, that he knows me, that he talks about me, it’s just amazing, because I used to watch him playing on TV, and the distance between he and me was so huge that it was just impossible to be able to play or to be around him at a certain point. So this is really amazing.
But then I have to work hard, to keep on working hard, as I suppose he did when he was my age. But then he worked hard. He won titles. Now it’s up to me to keep on working.