Tuesday, May 4, 2021. 6:42 PM
Félix Auger-Aliassime made his debut this Tuesday at the Masters 1000 in Madrid when he faced Casper Ruud, two years his senior. Already, I suspect that the challenge will be great because the Norwegian has looked really good since the start of the season on gravel. Semi-finalist in Monte Carlo and Munich, Ruud even amazes the gallery with convincing victories over Diego Schwartzman, Pablo Carreno Busta and Fabio Fognini, all surface specialists and also part of the elite. The improvements in Casper’s game are visible in this year 2021. His base at the back of the field is increasingly solid with the bonus of accelerations in forehands which allow him to dominate his opponents. As he is very confident, he is super consistent from the back of the field, knowing even better than in the past when to take calculated risks. His game is honestly super well put together and his rounded and deep serve returns are often top-10 quality.
Conversely, since the Monaco tournament, I have felt Felix a little more tense than usual as if he felt the need to prove to the whole world that he deserves a coach of the caliber of Toni Nadal. At the same time, it is quite normal as a reaction for a young 20-year-old player with very high aspirations. While Uncle Toni abandons his role as director of Rafael Nadal’s Academy on the island of Mallorca to travel to Monaco and Madrid, we want to make the most of his advice and store as much information as possible. However, the balance of a young pro is fragile and there is always this danger of putting more value on the desire to respect the game plan of the great. coach than to react with the sensations of the moment.
With Toni we worked a lot on the fly. Unfortunately in this aspect of the game, the harvest is poor today with only 5 points gained from 12 appearances at the net. Almost every time the FAA goes forward it makes me feel like I either don’t believe it or be aware enough of where it is on its climb just before it does its relief to pounce with it. accuracy towards the fly. Overall, he’s so far from the net for the first end, leaving too much room for Ruud to produce passings quality.
Basically, we also know that when Felix is well focused and confident he is exceptional with his first serve point in addition to dominating the game with his forehand. Today the many unforced errors in the exchange (27 in total) never allow him to pick up the pace and build something solid. This seems even more obvious because in front of him stands a player who controls all facets of his game so well. Ruud wins the match in two sets of 6-1 and 6-4 by not offering any break point to Felix. while he breaks three times while finishing the meeting by muzzling him in returns of second services. Honestly, I don’t remember a match where Auger-Aliassime only won 4 points on 2nd ball out of 22 played. Phew!
Above all, our Quebecer must regain emotional stability and come back to mastering the basis of the game. Otherwise even Superman will not be able to help him. Let us recall that on the side of the Aliassime clan, we are building in the medium and long term. Don’t panic, the road is long and the competition is fierce on this big circuit. He will eventually get rid of the straitjacket that holds him back and suffocates him. It should also be remembered that each difficulty represents one more step to be conquered in order to reach the supreme goal.
The same goes for Denis Shapovalov who comes up against the excellence of Alexander Bublik in the second round. Our Canadian started the match so well with a good 3-1 lead, but once again soiled his game with horrible double faults (14 in total!). Once again it becomes a big mental battle to stay calm first and then try to dominate an opponent who also has a range of moves! At this level, you can not give so much hope to the opponent by making too many mistakes (40!) Since even your magnificent parries and amazing accelerations do not affect the morale of the man in front too much. Bublik knew that Denis would eventually give up, offering points at key moments and that’s exactly what happens at the end of the third set.
It’s still such a shame because Shapo worked a lot to fix his mistakes, he even struggled to find solutions, to browse around what was working well but in vain. You can’t win at this level without being able to count on your best shots at key moments. Bublik, meanwhile, excelled when needed. So hard day for our young Canadians. Oh trust, so unfaithful friend, why are you hiding?
Shapovalov defeat in the second round in Madrid
“I am confident that I can take it to the next level”
Ruud too strong in forehand
Felix’s soft cushioning