Under the Patronage of H.h. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai

February 19- March 4, 2023
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 19- March 4, 2023
Dubai Duty Free tennis stadium
February 28, 2023

Felix Auger-Aliassime – Press Conference

2023 Men's Singles Main Draw Round 1: F. AUGER-ALIASSIME/M. Cressy 7-6, 6-3, 3-6

Felix Auger-Aliassime

THE MODERATOR: Felix, congratulations. A tough match today. It was your first match here at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. How did you feel out there?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: It was great. As the match went on, there was more and more people. You feel like people are used to seeing great players here. It’s a great event.

Since I’ve been here, everything has been really in place for us to get ready, to train, and to recover, get ready for the matches.

It was fun. It was fun to be out there again. It was fun to be in Dubai playing for the first time this tournament. It was a long match, so I had a chance to stay on court for quite a while. That was difficult. But happy to get it done.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Do you like that kind of opening round?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I mean, I would rather win more straightforward in two sets and shorter.

Yeah, sometimes it’s okay to test yourself and to be tested by your opponent really in the early rounds. He beat me last time in a first round in a Grand Slam. Yeah, I knew it would be tricky.

I knew I had to stay calm and composed and wait for my chances. When it came, I was fortunate at some point to be able to break in the third, then to keep going forward and win.

Q. He saved about 13 out of 14 break points. How frustrating was it? How tricky is it playing someone who can hit 27 aces but also 25 double-faults?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: The double-faults helped me, for sure. They got me the break in the third. It gave me opportunity.

I do feel like I was returning better than I was last time. Maybe that put a bit of pressure on him. With my positioning, too, I was trying to mix things up. For sure that helped.

On the break points, I don’t remember all of them. There were ones where I had no play on them. Yeah, there’s one where I missed the return, had kind of a shot, and also one on a backhand where I missed in the net, had a play on it. I missed a passing shot as well from the back end.

Yeah, I had chances. I wish I was able to do better when I did get those chances. But it is what it is. You have to accept it. You have to move on.

Q. You don’t usually play Dubai and Doha. What was the thinking about that? Do you feel halfway through, this was the right decision?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: So, yeah, normally I would play indoors until, like, Marseille. Last year I was supposed to play here actually and I had to pull out because of my back.

It’s recent also that Doha is right before Dubai. I think since last year almost. I don’t know. I feel like it’s a good swing. I feel like most players in the future, if it stays that way, will try and play that just because we don’t have to travel a lot between Doha and Dubai. Similar conditions, which is very convenient.

I wanted to play more outside leading to Indian Wells. I feel like these conditions here, not so humid, dry, could resemble a bit Indian Wells. I feel like it’s a good preparation for what’s to come as well.

A few reasons, but for sure the scheduling and the temperature and environment is the main cause.

Q. You have quite a big serve yourself. Can you imagine every playing two first serves like your opponent did?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it’s a strategy that when you think about it, I’ve never approached it like this, like most players. When you think about it, if you have a good serve, I mean, you just have to try to make it. How often are you going to double-fault?

I played him in Wimbledon where he didn’t that much. It’s tricky. You have a guy, at least when I played Isner, Opelka, they hit a kick serve or like a slower serve on a second serve. They put more than he does. Then you feel like you get plays on them. You can kind of get into a rally.

With him, the service volley behind it, it’s a tricky game. I always feel like he’s going to be there in tournaments and be tricky for players to beat.

Q. Cressy is playing a unique brand of tennis. Is it too jarring? Do you like this challenge or is it better to play with the orthodox?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: I approach it more as a good challenge this time around. When we played in Wimbledon, I got a bit too frustrated with what was going on. I think that was one of the reasons I lost. I was getting a bit too nervous and too emotional in a way, not accepting the challenge.

This time around I thought like, Look, it’s a different style of tennis. I also enjoy, like, the fact that you don’t always play the same type of players. You find a way through.

It’s good to win matches like this. For me it’s good for my confidence because, like, you play guys that play this way, then play Medvedev who is further in the court. It’s good to win those type of matches, to know that you’re versatile and know you can win against any opponent.

Q. You are in the top 10. Do you look at No. 1 ranking as a target or more winning the matches?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Ultimately in my career I would love to be No. 1 at some point. I believe that you can’t, like, force these things. You can want it all you want, and I’m sure many players have wanted to be No. 1 in the world. Some were able to do it, some weren’t able to do it.

I feel like putting a goal or saying you want to do it is not what’s going to get you there. For me it’s about focusing on the day-to-day, of course being motivated but without being too excited. Just finding the right balance of, yeah, coming to every match with the right intensity but also staying calm and patient.

You don’t get those results overnight. There’s a lot of good players – the one that’s stepping on court now, Novak – he’s the best player in the world today in my opinion. I want to be there one day, but my time will come if I deserve it.

Q. How would you describe your experience here with the audience?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: It’s great. It’s not my first time in Dubai. I’ve come here before for training. I always thought, yeah, it was great. The facilities, the climate for the players, it’s great.

Now it’s very multi-cultural. In the last few years, it keeps expanding and receiving more people from everywhere. When you come here, you really have fans from everywhere. I have fans speaking to me in French, then in English. It’s nice to have that kind of mix. Seeing a lot of different faces.

As we can see now, it’s Tuesday night, the stadium is packed of course for Novak. During my match, there was also more and more crowd, playing the first match in the day. That’s really good to see as a player.

Q. Historically with the older balls they used to use here, people struggled to control them, they flew in the air. Now it’s the same balls as Australia. Where do you stand on how comfortable you are with these balls?

FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME: Yeah, it’s tricky. The balls play a little bit differently for me every week. For example, they feel totally different than they did in Australia. Sometimes you’ll receive, I don’t know, like a batch or boxes that are different a little bit.

In Australia all the balls felt pretty flat and not bouncing at times. Here they’re quite bouncy. They fly through the air. I prefer the conditions here than I did in Australia this year.

As players, we have to adapt, and it’s part of the game. But I can understand that, yeah, conditions are dry, can be windy sometimes, has a tendency to fly. I’ve adjusted the last couple days, adjusted my tension. Now I feel comfortable. Now I’m used – not completely – but more in control of what I’m doing than the first day when I arrived.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
129357-1-1004 2023-02-28 15:49:00 GMT

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