Felix Auger-Aliassime the next big thing

John Mc Enroe has called the 17 year old Canadian the next big thing. The guy who is destined for the top spot and multiple grand slams. Federer has called him unbelievable .Quite a statement about a 17 year  old guy and only just played his first ATP 500 event.

I watched Felix Auger-Aliassime live in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. The Canadian was playing against 25 year old Serbian Krajinovic. Initial observations are that Felix looks like a tennis player, 6 foot 3 191cm, 84kgs and spoke very well about his tennis career and his aspirations of the future. After the initial nervy few opening games Felix grew into the game and we began to see what all the fuss was about. Felix has every shot already. His shotmaking is insane. He reminds me of a combination of Federer and Tsonga.

Felix scampers quickly across the court from forehand to his solid double hand backhand. His serve is good and his second serve is solid with plenty of topspin. Mechanically things are quite simple. From a coach’s point of view it means that his game or more specifically a shot is less likely to break down under pressure. So far so good?

Choices and Consistency.

What became apparent is that Felix is a natural athlete and a superb tennis player but he has a long way to go.  His opponent was happy to rally just to keep the ball in play as Felix pummelled his ground strokes into the corners. What happened especially in the first set was that he made the wrong choices in the rally. Under pressure he seemed to have brain freeze and play low percentage shots at key times in the game.  It seemed as if he had made the choice to hit a particular shot before it had left his opponents racket.

At my low level of tennis I see it quite frequently with juniors who have great shot making but their consistency and match play require a lot of work. These juniors like Felix are capable of making winners from any part of the court but they also play incredibly stupid shots too. The ones that leave you wondering what on earth were they thinking.  I love the confidence and the swagger in his shots. I love the fact that no shot seems too high risk to take on. But at times I felt like Felix was trying to prove a point.

I ofcourse bow to the superior knowledge and experience of guys like McEnroe and Wilander. Felix Auger-Aliassime will be a star but by my reckoning it will take several years before he discovers that it is consistency rather than jaw dropping shots that win tournaments.

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