On the ninth request, Felix Auger-Aliassime won his first tour-level title at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament.
The Canadian was 0-8 in the tour-level finals heading into Sunday, but he produced a dominant performance in Rotterdam to defeat world number 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets for his first trophy.
ATPTour.com spoke to the 21-year-old fresh from his ATP 500 tournament victory to find out more about the significance of his achievement.
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What does winning your first ATP Tour title mean to you?
It’s definitely a dream come true. It’s something I’ve worked for and suffered for at times because we all know my story, having lost finals before, so this one is even more special to me.
How did you start playing tennis and what are some of your earliest memories of playing the sport?
I started with my father. He is a tennis coach and we started as early as I can remember, when I was about four years old. Tennis has always been my main passion. [I had] the dream of becoming a professional and the dream of living moments like me today… The memories that I share with my family and current coaches go back a long way.
Can you describe your relationship with coaches Frédéric Fontang and Toni Nadal?
Both are really important to me. Frédéric was the rock of the team. He is the leader and has been able to build a great team around me and he is a real professional. I think he deserves more credit than he gets. He took me when I was 17 and took me to where I am today and we’re not done. It’s a really special relationship that we have.
I think we brought Toni to have that experience at the top of the sport and he built a lot of confidence [for] the team and the normalcy of winning tournaments like this and reaching the later stages of the Grand Slam.
You are a focused and dynamic player to watch on the court. How would you describe yourself off the court? Are you a similar character?
I would say I am. What you see on the pitch is similar to what you get off the pitch. I’m pretty straightforward with the way I do things. I know what I like to do and I’m a very loyal person with my family and my team and the people around me. I like to keep it simple and have a good time. I know when to be serious and disciplined and know when to have a good time.
What do you consider to be your greatest passions outside of tennis and can you tell us a bit more about those interests? I know you are an accomplished pianist.
I love music. Besides playing, I haven’t played the piano in months. But music, in general, gives me a lot of inspiration because we travel a lot, so I listen to a lot of music. Not that I would be a musician myself in terms of creating music, but it’s definitely an important part of my life. Also, any sport in general. I am a very active person. I like to watch and enjoy many different sports.
Canadian tennis is in a good place right now, with Canada winning the ATP Cup title. How important is it to you that you and Denis Shapovalov inspire the younger generation in your country?
We did well. This journey started in 2015 when we won junior doubles titles together and from there it just got better and better year after year. He was able to do incredible things in this sport too.
I was motivated to do the same and in the future we could have two Canadians consistently in the Top 10 which would be an incredible achievement for each other and for the country. Winning the ATP Cup title was a dream. I know it inspired a lot of people back home.
This is a defining moment in your career. How will you celebrate this victory?
I like to keep it simple. I don’t do anything crazy. I like to keep it with the people who have traveled with me, so that we can really enjoy this time together and look back on good memories and have good discussions. We will go to a good restaurant and enjoy good food, then rest. The emotion I experienced on the court will hold a special place in my heart for years to come.