Felix Auger-Aliassime came in Sofia just a day after winning his first ATP Tour title. The young Canadian and Hubert Hurkacz saved five championship points on Sunday to capture their first team title at the Rolex Paris Masters. The unseeded pair recovered from the brink of defeat to upset second seeds Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares 6-7(3), 7-6(7), 10-2 in one hour and 52 minutes.
In his debut at Sofia Open he was seeded second, just after his compatriot Denis Shapovalov. Auger-Aliassime is among the top 3 seeds are players who would have qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, which was originally scheduled for this week. But due to COVID-19, the tournament was cancelled this year. Overall there are six Next Gen players in the main draw.
Auger-Aliassime started his stay in Sofia with the traditional virtual press-conference (partly):
Felix, welcome to Bulgaria. What are your expectations with this tournament?
To play well, to enjoy myself, of course. Being second seed here, and, I have already reached three finals, so obvious I want to give myself a chance to the title again. I want to give myself a shot to win. But I have to start by winning the match tomorrow. It is the end of the year, and one more tournament. I will try to give everything I can. Physically I am still good, I am healthy. And I am confident in my game, that I can play well and do good things this week.
What have you learn about yourself this season?
This year was interesting. Obviously not playing the full year. And then it was tough to make clear schedule. I think if I had to make it again I would pick my tournaments a little bit better. Maybe I would reschedule a little bit differently. I think I will adjust in the coming year. For sure I had good moments. I have learned from my losses in a way I understand that it is tough to come every week and to play a week after week to come with your best level and best energy and the same focus. I think this is a part I can still improve – to have that consistency of results. I will have to go through the level of tennis I am playing and my fitness and my mental state. These are the things I want to adjust and improve on. I am 20-years old. I had results but also learning, growing. In the end I want to rise my level to the level and to be the best player I can be. And this year has been just another year of good matches, tough losses and any experiences for me to grow as player and person.
Congratulations for your doubles title last week. Were you surprised – you beat some of the best doubles last week?
It was a shock. It was a surprise for me and my partner. It was so unexpected. Before that week I have never won two matches in a row in ATP event in doubles. But day by day you are trying to win the matches that you are playing. Doubles go fast. We played super tiebreaks and in all we played well. We got a little bit lucky at moments, in the final, saving those match points and hitting few lines. But things were going well, we got great chemistry. I was enjoining my time with Hubert. He is a great person. So things were just going our way. For sure it was a big surprise and unexpected. I tried to play doubles to improve my game, to have some fun, be competitive. But never in the world had I thought I will be lifting trophy in doubles.
Do you expect Sofia to be the first place you will win your first ATP single trophy?
I guess yeah. But we will find out on Saturday. I don’t know. If I had a crystal ball. This week is a chance for me to play a tournament and try to win. I’ve had some first rounds losses this year, I had some finals. It has been ups and downs. But at the end I am trying the best to go all the way every week. I will do the same here this week. I don’t know what will happen. I will see what will happen the first round, I will give myself the best chances. But we will speak again on Saturday night.
You used to practice with a Bulgarian Adrian Andreev?
Actually no, we didn’t used to practice. I know him by name, maybe we hit once. I know better other Bulgarian – Alexandar Donski. He played here but he lost. He grew up in Canada. We used to play together when we were kids and juniors. He is a good friend and I know him really well.
Do the fact that you and Denis Shapovalov are the top-seeded players here make you more confident and comfortable?
It is good, a good sign for us. We decided to come, to give ourselves a chance to play one more week and to gain some more wins and may be to have the chance for a title. I think he is such motivated as I am to play here. Being both from Canada, and also Vasek Pospisil is in the draw. It is a good sign. I hope this won’t be the last time when we will be first seeds in a tournament. I think it is good for us and it is good for tennis in Canada. Felix Auger-Aliassime came in Sofia just a day after winning his first ATP Tour title. The young Canadian and Hubert Hurkacz saved five championship points on Sunday to capture their first team title at the Rolex Paris Masters. The unseeded pair recovered from the brink of defeat to upset second seeds Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares 6-7(3), 7-6(7), 10-2 in one hour and 52 minutes.