LONDON – It’s been a packed two days for Félix Auger-Aliassime.
But he passed those tests with flying colors.
And on Saturday, the 18-year-old Canadian will meet a player twice his age, wild card Feliciano Lopez, in the Queen’s Club semifinals.
It’s been more than 40 years since there’s been a bigger age gap between semifinalists on the ATP Tour.
Auger-Aliassime beat two high-quality opponents Thursday, as he finally got on court after two days of rain.
First there was 2014 Queen’s Club champion Grigor Dimitrov, in straight sets.
Then came Nick Kyrgios, in a dramatic match that had everything – good and not-so-good – that you could ask for.
And on Friday, he upset No. 1 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 6-2.
“Maybe it’s the intensity I bring, how hard I hit the ball. When I manage to hit the ball heavy, he has trouble. We’re very different players than we were in juniors. Each time, from the first time, I was able to play well against him,” Auger-Aliassime said.
“The first time was in Repentigny in juniors – and from Repentigny to Queen’s a lot of things have changed. But even still, there’s a little psychological advantage. Against him, I believe even more in my chances to win. Sometimes it’s not specific, but little points of reference on certain points, memories of certain important moments, important points now that we’ve played five times.”
Pumped for the doubles
And then he went out to the very small Court 2 to finally play his first-round doubles match.
The winner of Auger-Aliassime and de Minaur vs. Ken Skupski and Dan Evans would have to play another doubles match late in the day against Lopez and Andy Murray.
(Daylight ran out on that one at the end of the second set).
Still, Auger-Aliassime was all guns blazing – and maybe even more pumped than he was during the singles in a 6-3, 7-5 defeat.
“I blamed myself a few times. You have a partner, and you want to play well for him. Plus we had chances in the second set to win. Too bad, maybe we would have had a chance to play again,” Auger-Aliassime said.
“But I’m not going to be too hard on myself, because I’m in the singles semis; I have other things I can concentrate on. But it was a pleasure to play with Alex, he’s a very good person and a very good friend. And it was fun to do something different on the court. I hadn’t played doubles for a long time.”
Big age difference
According to the ATP, the age difference between Auger-Aliassime (18 years, 10 months) and Lopez (37 years, nine months) is the biggest since … 1977.
There, 43-year-old Ken Rosewall played Belgian-born American Pat Dupre, just 23, in the semifinal of a tournament in Hong Kong.
In that instance, the grizzled veteran took the match.
“I think he’s going to be one of the best players in the future, so I’m really looking forward to the match,” Lopez said of the first career encounter with Auger-Aliassime.