The Best is Yet to Come: A Look at Felix Auger Aliassime’s Performance This Year

CONTEST ALERT!! Want to win tickets to the 2022 National Bank Open in Toronto? Read Pierre Lamarche’s response to Tom Tebbutt’s article “Felix – A Missed Opportunity”, and join the conversation!  ONcourt wants to hear your thoughts on Felix Auger Aliassime’s recent performance on court. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Read Tom Tebbutt’s “Felix – A Missed Opportunity”
  2. Read Pierre Lamarche’s response below
  3. Submit your own response to Editor – ONcourt for your chance to win two tickets to the 2022 National Bank Open in Toronto! Winner will be announced in the October edition of ONcourt.

BY PIERRE LAMARCHE

Félix Auger-Aliassime at the 2021 US Open

Veteran, experienced tennis writer Tom Tebbutt was correct in the attached article in stating that Felix Auger Aliassime (FAA) did miss his opportunity in the US Open semi finals. It is hard to question the great prospect who has been on a consistent climb in the rankings and in his game. It is interesting to hear coaches, players, parents, officials, sportscasters provide their insight on what FAA could do better. This summer I have multiple FAA supporters give me their opinion. Here is mine, and I welcome all feedback and insight, in fact, ONcourt will provide tickets to next years National Bank Open in Toronto or the most engaging and thoughtful response. First, lets make sure everyone is clear: FAA is a great player, great physical skills, solid mental attitude, outstanding technical skills, an evolving game style (does the forehand inside out on 2nd serve returns from the ad side remind you of another player Tony Nadal was involved with?), he is the full package. So why are there questions? Eight ATP finals, a quarter final performance at Wimbledon and his semis at the US Open are what dreams are made of. Why are there questions?

The truth is that in most of these matches (as pointed out in Tom Tebbutt’s article) FAA did have opportunities to win those matches. It would be fascinating to have analytics which could provide some insight on what occurred in these matches when he could have converted and possibly change the momentum and outcome.

The most popular answer is that he serves too many double faults at crucial times. From watching six out of the ten matches referred to previously, FAA has a tendency to double fault on important points when trying to maintain a break or close a set. People therefore conclude that pressure gets to him. Of course, pressure is increased for everyone in these situations, but FAA is recognized as someone who is very strong mentally, so what gives? I believe that one of two situations are occurring: First we must agree that in stressful situations the best offense is defense: simply you do not give away the point (see what Medvedev says in Tebbutt’s article). Putting his first serve in would alleviate the pressure of the second serve. Time and time again, FAA goes for that big serve, misses and finds himself in an even greater pressure situation for his second one. So, is that him not handling the pressure or is it his decision-making process that causes the double faults? I believe that maybe his team believes that eventually his low margin serves will be more consistent (Agassi philosophy) but could it be that it is simply an intention and technical problem?

In stress situations, compounding the pressure is essential. On the ad side, on the first serve that means selecting a serve possibly with a little more spin. On the second one, definitely you want a deep serve or a short one wide, but of note both these serves have an arced trajectory which FAA does not have. So, in moments of stress where pressure begs for a higher percentage delivery, FAA still serves with a low trajectory. Why? That is the question, could it be that given his height and great serve he does not make the adjustments on his intentions or that his grip does not lend itself to a higher percentage serve?

Denis and Felix Rogers Cup 2018, courtesy of Peter Figura

Another interesting observation is that FAA quite often gets a lead on his opponent serve, faces a second serve and his great return suddenly goes into the net. Instead of compounding the pressure in a momentum changing situation he goes for the winner rather than working the point, yes by keeping the server on the defense and pressuring with his great ground game.

Finally, FAA’s net game is improving and will get much better, his forehand is deadly but does seem to take a walk once in awhile, however these areas will get only better. What a great representative of our country. Those who have had the pleasure of meeting him are in awe of his maturity and professionalism, but….. what do you think of Tom Tebbutt’s article and my insight?

by Pierre Lamarche, Contributing Editor, ONcourt & Founder, All Canadian Sports Management

Send your insights/feedback/responses to Laurence Lamarche Editor – ONcourt for your chance to win tickets to the National Bank Open 2022 in Toronto!

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