Félix Auger-Aliassime was hot. Certainly not on the court, as his second-round match was played under the indoor roof of Margaret Court Arena on a cool, rainy Wednesday in Melbourne.
No, if Felix was hot, it was because nothing was working for the Quebecer over two rounds against world No. 53 Alex Molkan of Slovakia. So much so that “FAA” quickly recovered from an early elimination at the Australian Open in one set.
But the sixth favorite was able to step up his game at the right time, while Molcan gradually lost his touch, having managed several brilliant shots since the start of the match.
And for the second time in her career, after her first round loss at Roland Garros last year, Auger-Aliassime rallied from two sets down to win 3-6, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. and 6-2, 3 hours 02 minutes.
“While I’m on the field, I try to find solutions, give myself a chance to win,” Felix said at the press conference. This also requires a bit of luck, your opponent must not play too well or you will see the match slipping away from you.
“Yes, it requires endurance. However, he added. Generally, when you lose two sets to zero, you don’t win.
In search of a solution
Felix posed in front of journalists. It didn’t happen the whole game. L’Ancienne-Lorette’s pride sometimes seemed disappointed. Very slow playing conditions were a problem for him. Just like the balls that forced him to adjust his tennis, to hit it straighter.
Auger-Aliassime was also looking for solutions. Because it’s not as easy for him to get on stage in Melbourne as he would like. Already on Monday, he had to fight for four sets and four hours to win against his compatriot and friend Vasek Pospisil.
The Quebecer and Slovak have already met once. Last year it was on clay in Morocco and Felix lost in three close sets.
On Monday, the FAA also described the 25-year-old as a player with a nice touch. Molkan demonstrated this several times in the first two sets, skillfully moving the ball behind his opponent. His left-handed serve didn’t help Felix settle into the game either.
Added to this were many unforced errors by the 22-year-old racketeer. Auger-Aliassime served 48 in total, including 25 in the first two sets.
In a rather dull atmosphere, the stands of Margaret Court, Melbourne Park’s third largest stadium, were only half full for this match, even though other fixtures had not started due to rain.
Indeed, “Go Félix!” here and there, but there was nothing to galvanize the Quebecer, who looked more to his box to motivate himself.
“Walking the court [mercredi], I wanted to be more aggressive than in my first game and I think the first games were not bad, he analyzed. I felt good. But after the first five games the balls got old and that’s when I started making mistakes.
“I found him more comfortable in more situations than I was. I was trying to develop my usual game, go further, release my shots, but I wasn’t very accurate.
Focus on your game
Felix promises: he won’t do these quick-dissolving balls, a recurring theme during these two weeks. They won’t change anyway.
“I told myself in the third set that if this is going to be my last match of the tournament, I’m going to try to make it work as much as possible. I didn’t want to keep making mistakes.”
The strategy worked. In the middle of the third set, “FAA” offered the first break point of the game and finally took the Slovakian’s serve.
That was the end of Molka’s spell, who in turn started adding unforced errors. Felix never looked back, cruising through the final three sets and the win.
Auger-Aliassime now, of course, wants to continue the path he took at the end of the match. He will face Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo, the 28th favorite, or France’s Corentin Moutet, the 62nd in the world.
But regardless of the nature of the player he faces Thursday night or Thursday night ET through Friday, Felix knows he has to focus on his tennis first.
“The main thing is that I have to play better. I have to raise my level of play regardless of the opponent. I will have to play better for the next match and the matches after that, if there are any,” he said.