Felix Auger-Aliassime will compete on clay for the first time this season when he takes to court at the Mutua Madrid Open. The Canadian, currently No. 9 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, has not played since March due to a left knee injury and was urging on the side of caution when asked about his chances at the ATP Masters 1000 event in the Spanish capital.
“My ambitions are high but my expectations are low,” Auger-Aliassime said. “In a way I hope to do really well and I’m confident that I can do it but at the same time I’m going to really expect the worst a little bit or expect that everything’s going to be really tough. I think I’ll need my max focus and concentration from the first match.
”Every match is going to be tough, so if I can get through the early rounds and get some wins behind me, hopefully I’ll get far into the tournament and play well here.”
Auger-Aliassime, who last competed in Miami one month ago, has taken his injury setback as an opportunity to rest and recharge. While he enjoyed the period, he is excited to compete again, starting against Jason Kubler or Dusan Lajovic in his opening match.
“I’m feeling better and better as the days go by,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It was tricky. I’ve played a lot of tennis since the end of the last season. I think I am just kind of paying the price a little bit [in] the past couple of weeks. But it’s part of the Tour and part of the sport.
“But it’s been good, I’ve had time to stay at home a little bit, spend time away from the Tour and the stress of just playing matches all the time. It’s kind of just relaxed me mentally, but then also [I have] trained physically. I’ve had time, which is rare to go in the gym and work on other things, work on things on the court that I wanted to improve, while doing the rehab for my knee at the same time. I think it’s been an important period. Hopefully that pays off in the weeks to come.”
The four-time tour-level champion Auger-Aliassime holds a 12-7 record on the season, with his best result a run to the semi-finals in Doha. He is making his fourth appearance in Madrid, where he advanced to the quarter-finals last year.