Auger-Aliassime, 16, wins in Lyon

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There aren’t many 16-year-old players making a move on the men’s side these days.

But Montreal’s Félix Auger-Aliassime made a huge move on Sunday.

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The 2016 US Open junior champion, into the Lyon, France Challenger on a wild card, won it.

He crushed 23-year-old Frenchman Mathias Bourgue 6-4, 6-1 in the final, just as he crushed 30-year-old Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-0, 6-3 in the semifinal.

It is the first Challenger-level title for Auger-Aliassime, who reached the French Open boys’ junior final a year ago. 

He entered the week ranked No. 336. When the new list comes out on Monday, he will vault more than 100 spots in the ATP Tour rankings. It’s too bad the entries for the Wimbledon qualifying are closed. He would have made it.

The Canadian is the seventh-youngest to ever win a Challenger-level title. He’s just two weeks older than Rafael Nadal when the Spanish star won his first, in Barletta, Italy all the way back in 2003.

Novak Djokovic was two months older when he won his first, in Budapest, Hungary in 2004.

  Player Age Tournament
1 Michael Chang 15 years,7 months Las Vegas, USA, 1997
2 Richard Gasquet 16 years,0 months Montauban, FRA, 2002
3 Bernard Tomic 16 years,4 months Melbourne, AUS, 2009
4 Kent Carlsson 16 years,7 months New Ulm, GER, 1984
5 Marcos Ondruska 16 years,7 months Durban, RSA, 1989
6 Rafael Nadal 16 years,9 months Barletta, ITA, 2003
7 Félix Auger-Aliassime 16 years, 10 months Lyon, FRA, 2017

That’s not a guarantee of superstardom, of course, although every single player on the list above has “made it”, by any definition.

Carlsson reached No. 6 in the world in 1988, at the age of 20. Unfortunately, major knee problems knocked him out of the game just a year later.

The South African Ondruska also reached his career high (No. 27) at the age of 20, in 1993. He never won a singles title, but he won four in doubles and reached No. 34. He was still playing doubles as recently as 2005.

The jury is still out on Tomic, still only 24. But he reached a career best of No. 17 last year and already has three titles.

The rest, we know about.

(Tennis.Life will have a full piece on Auger-Aliassime’s rise later today. As it happens, it’s a particular area of expertise. 🙂 )

(Feature pic from the Open Sopra Steria de Lyon Facebook page. Table of teenage champions from Tennis Canada)

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