WATCH: What are Denis Shapovalov’s chances at winning a major?
TORONTO—Felix Auger-Aliassime is skipping his birthday bash in favor of the biggest win of his career.
The Canadian wild card won his first-round match at the Rogers Cup a day before turning 18 years old, defeating Lucas Pouille in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3. It might not be the way Auger-Aliassime had originally planned to spend his birthday, but it’s certainly appropriate for the former junior champion transitioning into the ATP tour.
“It’s funny because I was thinking about it the whole year,” said Auger-Aliassime said. “I was like, okay, this year I’m turning 18,” he said. “You know, I’m going to be [a] major in Montreal, in Quebec. I was like, okay, it’s all exciting. I had plans for my birthday.
“And now that the tournament is here, it’s like I have another priority. It’s like I’m not even thinking about my birthday.”
If his birthday was supposed to be a big occasion, so was the win.
“I think it’s kind of a statement, you know, for me to win these matches, to prove to myself and others that I can, you know, compete with these guys,” said Auger-Aliassime, who in defeating Pouille earned the first Top 20 win of his career. “That I have the level to be there, to compete in the top 100, it’s obviously great.”
But while happy with the victory, Auger-Aliassime is still concentrating on bigger goals.
“I think my objectives are further than that,” he said. “I’m very happy that I have won my first match, but for me it’s just, you know, another step towards where I want to go, where I want to be as a player.”
Fellow Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov also won his first-round match in straight sets, over Jeremy Chardy.
Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev headline the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Watch live coverage from four courts on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, August 6th at 11:00 A.M.