Canadian teenager Félix Auger-Aliassime won’t start the 2018 season as early as he had planned.
A knee issue suffered during practice earlier this week is serious enough that the 17-year-old announced Thursday he is going to skip the entire Australian swing.
Auger-Aliassime had just completed a two-week stint training with Roger Federer in Dubai.
He had been due to play a $75,000 Challenger in Playford, Australia before heading to his first career stab at the Australian Open qualifying.
Auger-Aliassime and Australia
Auger-Aliassime’s history with Australia is star-crossed and fairly limited.
He only played the tournament once as a junior, in 2016 when he was just 15.
It was the first big event at which he received a lot of attention after the historic nature of the things he did on court at a 14-year-old, followed by the win in the US Open junior doubles with Denis Shapovalov.
The agents were everywhere at Melbourne Park, their presence keenly felt.
And Auger-Aliassime was a fairly agitated character on court throughout. He lost in the first round of the tuneup event in Traralgon, and then in the third round of the main event to Kenneth Raisma of Estonia.
He said later that he never had a good feeling in Melbourne, never felt the ball well, and admitted he might have been a little burned out. It was also by far the longest trip he’d ever undertaken at the time.
Auger-Aliassime didn’t go to Australia at all this past January. Done with the juniors after winning the US Open boys’ singles in 2016, he played a series of grind-it-out Futures on the Har-Tru in South Florida instead.
Now, he’ll miss it again.
On the plus side, when he finally does make it Down Under again and makes his Australian Open debut, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be in the main draw.
As well, his withdrawal will put his new Davis Cup captain, Frank Dancevic, one step closer to making the qualifying draw with his protected ranking. One more, and Frank the Tank is in.