Having advanced to his first major semi-final at the US Open last month, #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime is determined to continue his rise up the FedEx ATP Rankings and compete for the biggest titles, starting this week at the BNP Paribas Open.
The 21-year-old is part of a young and competitive field in Indian Wells, with US Open champion Daniil Medvedev the top seed in California. However, with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all missing, seventh seed Auger-Aliassime will believe he can go deep at the penultimate ATP Masters 1000 event of the season.
On this and the change at the top of the game, Auger-Aliassime said: “It was going to come eventually. A change in generation. Novak is still No. 1, and Roger and Rafa we will see how they come back. But they have done it so many times in the past in their careers. They are going to be tough to beat for as long as they play.
“Having tournaments like this where the average age of the top eight seeded players is 23, you know that it is going to be highly competitive but as a young player, you try and establish yourself with those five to eight to 10 top players who will dominate or win the big titles in the year to come.
“For me, the challenge is big, but at the same time the motivation is big as well to try to play well to end the season and put myself with those best players in the world.”
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During Thursday’s pre-tournament media conference, Auger-Aliassime was asked about Canada’s breakthrough WTA star Leylah Fernandez, who reached the US Open final last month and her opponent Emma Raducanu, who lifted the title at Flushing Meadows.
On the impact the two teenagers have made for the sport and whether it has provided him with extra motivation, Auger-Aliassime said: “It is tough to compare. We are just different Tours. We have the women competing with each other and the men competing each other hard. What they have done with Leyla making the final and Emma winning is just as impressive as Daniil [Medvedev] winning.
“It was great to see new faces and young players and likeable players like them make it that far. I think it was a great story for the two of them and the sport in general. Any new fans we can get into the sport is great. I have been inspired to do better things for a long time now, but this always helps.”
Auger-Aliassime is making his third appearance in Indian Wells and will begin his campaign against either #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti or Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The World No. 11 is part of a strong contingent of Canadian players in both the men’s and women’s draw and is excited by the prospect of this.
“In more and more tournaments now, we have a great field of Canadian players in both the men’s and women’s draw, which is great to see,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Apart from Milos [Raonic] who is sidelined with injury, everyone is here. We sometimes have good results and bad results, but all of us are playing great tennis. Hopefully it is a good tournament for all of us here.”