Felix was not Felix in Australia

Felix Auger-Aliassiam left the Margaret Court Arena with a thumbs-up to the cheering crowd after hugging Jiri Lehecka at the net and putting down his rackets after greeting the umpire.

Despite this suspicion of positivism, Quebecer’s face was closed. Those four games in Melbourne haven’t gone the way the 2022 power forward would have liked in the final weeks.

On the contrary: A year after reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, Russian Daniil Medvedev was outplayed by the FAA, saying he “didn’t express his game to the best of his ability”. [qu’il] can.”

“It has been a difficult week. “I’m a little hungry,” said the sixth seed in Australia, about an hour after suffering a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) and 7-6 (3) loss against the world No.71 in the fourth round.

Adapt your strategy

Of course, there was the story of the famous Dunlop balls, which tended to lose speed during exchanges, forcing Felix, like other players, to adapt his strategies.

The Quebecer eased the tension on his racket string after the second round and won in the extreme against the world’s 53rd Slovakian Alex Molkan. A match in which Auger-Aliassime came close to losing two sets behind.

He also tried to reduce the spin on his forehead. Staying more patient in exchanges, waiting for your opponent to make a mistake.

The strategy worked for one lap on Sunday, during which Felix regained his luster in a stadium where several Canadian flags were flying.

But the 21-year-old Czech he faced took on the appearance of a “giant killer” in the past week. And he wasn’t going to stop there.

Ignoring the world ranking, Lehecka had already paid 21st seed Borna Coric of Croatia in the first round. He then defeated British No. 11 Cameron Norrie in the third round.

In the first set, the Czechs looked desperate for corner kicks, which cost them.

But he adjusted for the rest of the game. Standing behind the baseline, Lehecka managed to bring a couple of strong serves from Auger-Aliassime into play.

That didn’t stop the 22-year-old from hitting 20 aces. However, this left him several times behind in his service games. On the other hand, after the initial stage, “FAA” no longer found a key to break its opponent.

“He had a certain advantage”

We saw him looking for help in his box and even signaling that he didn’t hear his trainer Frederic Fontang’s advice well. It was in vain.

No one in the “Auger-Aliassime” team, either on the field or in the stands, could find the key to solving the Lehecka mystery.

“I played two bad tiebreaks, Félix admitted. I also think that from the second run he was a little bit better than me. I struggled to score on his return. So once we got to the tiebreaker, every time I felt like he had a certain advantage over me and that was enough for him to beat me.

After nearly 3 hours and 10 minutes of play, the curtain fell on Felix’s Melbourne course as the lights came on at Margaret Court, announcing the approach of the evening session.

In the tiebreak of the fourth set, Auger-Aliassime managed to collect well at 4-3. But then she gave away three match points to Lehecka, who was the first to realize.

Not consistent enough

Felix’s problems began on his first visit to Melbourne. He took four shots and four hours to defeat fellow countryman Vasek Pospisil, who is ranked 99th in the world.

Then there was excitement in the second round, during which “FAA” was able to overcome a two-set deficit for the second time in his career.

A four-set third-game win against 27th-seeded Argentine Francisco Cerundolo could suggest the Quebecer may have found a way out.

However, it was a mirage. The mirage that a calm Felix received at the press conference is ready to turn the page quickly on this difficult week by his standards.

“I’ve been at my best here and there, but I haven’t felt as consistent as I’ve been lately or when I was at my best.”

“I know what’s going on, but there’s nothing else I can do now. The tournament is over. I did my best. I’ll get over it and focus on what’s next. That’s all.”


“FAA” did not crack under pressure

A few days before his first match at the Australian Open, Félix Auger-Aliassime said that he wants to make this start of the year an extension of the final weeks of the 2022 season.

After three consecutive individual titles, 16 consecutive victories and a Davis Cup victory with his compatriots in October, Quebec really didn’t want to put a new calendar on his wall.

But no, the “FAA” did not pressure Melbourne to repeat its exploits in the fall. In fact, the 22-year-old says he doesn’t even have time to think about it.

Felix has mostly spent the last few days, especially the last few meetings, in solution mode.

“I felt good before the game [de quatrième tour contre Jiri Lehecka], pointed out Auger-Aliassime. I started the last two games well.

“But I was struggling in every match, so I didn’t have time to think outside of the game I was playing,” he said. I was just trying to find a way to win, to improve my level of play.

The page turned quickly

The sixth favorite is not going to torture himself with these performances below his last level.

Once in the locker room moments after the loss, Auger-Aliassime said he was thinking about the next few weeks. How would he manage his schedule before the next tournament.

In mid-February he returned to Rotterdam, where he is the current champion.

“After the match, I digest my emotions a bit. I try to stay calm. And then, in all honesty, I think about what will happen to me, “he explained to the journalists who came to meet him.

Unlike compatriot Denis Shapovalov, Felix did not look like the player who was tortured after being eliminated.

After the assessment was over, he even thanked the journalists for their participation and wished them a “good return”.

Rare attention from a player who has just been defeated.

“What’s done is done,” he admitted quietly.

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