#NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime made a successful Hamburg European Open debut on Tuesday, defeating Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 7-6(2) in one hour and 48 minutes.
The 20-year-old Canadian saved all four break points he faced in the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting. Auger-Aliassime lost his opener at last week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia against in-form Serbian Filip Krajinovic. But he remains confident after reaching the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time at the US Open.
“I’m feeling good. I’ve played some good tennis in the past weeks in the United States. Now I feel good physically and mentally,” Auger-Aliassime said on Monday. “I’m ready for the upcoming challenges. It’s going to be a tough week. [ATP] 500 tournaments are always strong ones and especially this week, so we’ll see who the best man is this week. I’m looking forward to playing some good tennis.”
Auger-Aliassime is especially excited to compete in front of fans for the first time since the ATP Tour resumed last month. While there were no spectators allowed at his match against Sonego, there will be a limited crowd for his second-round battle against Kazakh lucky loser Alexander Bublik, who defeated Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round. The new-look Rothenbaum Tennis Stadium is accommodating up to 2,300 fans per day with strict safety measures in place.
“It feels so good. Honestly the feeling is just great,” Auger-Aliassime said. “To be here, it’s a smaller draw. There’s not a full capacity of fans, but still we’re able to hear the applause and have them watch us live and it’s such a special thing as a tennis player. But I think artists and musicians can say the same thing. There’s nothing that replaces the live applause.”
Things aren’t only good on the court for the Canadian. On Monday, Auger-Aliassime and second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas took separate vehicles on a car tour around Hamburg’s harbour.
“It’s great. We haven’t had the chance in the latest weeks to get out much, which is normal in these circumstances in the world we live in now,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But at the same time I always enjoy whenever I get to travel as a tennis player and go from different cities week-after-week… now we’ve been able to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Hamburg port and the city. I’m glad.”
Auger-Aliassime is thankful for the efforts of the tournament organisers to make this event possible, and he will try to take full advantage by pursuing his first ATP Tour title.
“I think the people in the past weeks have put in some hard work to make sure the tournament is up and running with safe measures,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Us players, we’re grateful that we have opportunities to play again, to play world-class tournaments.”