Félix Auger-Aliassime’s Miami Open debut was definitely a letdown after his great run to make the main draw at Indian Wells.
But the conditions were night and day.
And the 17-year-old Canadian teenager succumbed.
Auger-Aliassime was first up on the Monday morning of qualifying. He faced 22-year-old Mackenzie McDonald, who went to UCLA and is just starting his pro career in earnest.
It was really hot, and very humid, during the two days of qualifying. And Auger-Aliassime, after the cool, dry temps in the desert, really struggled.
Still, Auger-Aliassime had a match point in that third-set tiebreak. But in the end, McDonald pulled it off.
A little heatstroke
As you can see at the end of the video, Auger-Aliassime was in fairly bad shape at the end of the match. But it was even worse afterwards.
Some 45 minutes later, your Tennis.Life correspondent opened the door to a hallway leading to the photographers’ and press conference rooms, on the ground floor of the Miami Open stadium.
And there was poor Auger-Aliassime, lying on the carpet in the narrow hallway, just inside the door, still trying to recover from a marathon match in very tough conditions. He was there a long time, and joked later that he definitely wasn’t at his best.
He didn’t wear a cap, or use the ice towel during the match. You’d have to think he won’t make that same mistake again, although you’d think his coach would have insisted. (Perhaps he did, and the kid went his own way).
So much for Miami.
Two weeks later, on the tierra
After returning home to rest and reload, the 17-year-old finds himself in Valencia, Spain at the Juan Carlos Ferrero Challenger, already making the transition to the red clay. He plans to play several Challengers in Europe this spring.
There, he met 18-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round.
The temperatures in Valencia this week are far more moderate: around 70F, low humidity.
A year older than Auger-Aliassime, at No. 455 in the ATP Tour rankings, Davidovich Fokina is about at his career best. But he’s ranked about 170 spots below Auger-Aliassime.
The two had met before – twice, in fact, during a one-month period.
Davidovich Fokina defeated the Quebecer 6-4 in the third set in the semifinals of the big junior tournament outside Montreal, the week before the US Open juniors in 2016.
Auger-Aliassime got his revenge in Flushing Meadow, winning 6-4, 7-6 in a pretty dramatic test and eventually winning the title to cap off his junior career.
It was very hot that day, as well. But Auger-Aliassime was wearing a cap.
The Spanish kid wasn’t without his drama …
The outcome in Valencia was somewhat similar.
Auger-Aliassime won, but it was a tight one – 7-5, 7-5 in more than two hours. It ended on an ill-advised drop shot from Davidovich Fokina, followed by an angry racket smash.
Auger-Aliassime will play Guido Andreozzi of Italy in the second round. Andreozzi, a 26-year-old from Argentina ranked No. 167, upset the No. 3 seed Stefano Travaglia of Italy in the first round.