Felix Auger-Aliassime is determined to respond at the Nitto ATP Finals following his round-robin defeat Sunday against Casper Ruud in Turin.
The Canadian arrived at the prestigious year-end event having won 16 of his past 17 matches. However, he was unable to find his best level against the Norwegian at the Pala Alpitour, leaving him with work to do if he is to qualify for the semi-finals.
“My back is against the wall,” Auger-Aliassime said in his post-match press conference. “It would have been better to start with a win here. For Casper, I’m sure it’s a big weight off his shoulders. For me, I need to bounce back and play better, play a little bit better. I’m not far from playing well, but there are a few things I can do better. I will try to use the day tomorrow to do that, to work on a few things.”
The 22-year-old enjoyed an impressive end to the season, lifting tour-level trophies in Florence, Antwerp and Basel. His form propelled him to seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, before he sealed qualification in Paris.
Auger-Aliassime admitted that he felt the pressure in the lead-up to his debut match in Turin, but felt his nerves did not impact his performance against Ruud.
“I was thinking about it the past few days,” said Auger-Aliassime when asked about the pressure of competing in Turin. “It’s kind of strange. You have this stress and pressure, this energy to qualify for this event the whole year. Especially at the end of the year, [with] the way I did it. You [come here], but there are still matches to play and compete. It’s not like, now I’m qualified, I can rest. I was thinking that would be a mistake, to come here and act like I’m happy and this is it.
“I felt good today. No problem. I was thinking maybe my first time I’m not going to feel great. From the first balls, I felt good, I felt normal. I’ve played on other big stages before. This match [didn’t] feel any different.”
Auger-Aliassime will look to bounce back when he faces Rafael Nadal and Taylor Fritz in his remaining Green Group matches in Italy. The 22-year-old feels he will have to return better if he is to advance.
“I feel in the past few weeks and months, when I was playing well, I was returning much better than I did today,” Auger-Aliassime said. “[I was] still serving great, apart from one game where it wasn’t even my serve. I did a few mistakes, bad mistakes, in the second set. I felt like I could have returned much better and given myself chances because I won [only] a few points on my return, and that’s not enough against a player like Casper.”