Roland-Garros: Felix has an appointment with the king

PARIS | To be great, you have to face the greatest. And in the history of tennis, no player has been more legendary than the Spanish Rafael Nadal on Roland-Garros ocher.

• Also read: Two Quebeckers in the round of 16

• Also read: The confidence of “Uncle Christmas”

• Also read: The Canadians advance in doubles to Roland-Garros

The Serbian Filip Krajinovic (55) was eliminated thanks to a very solid performancee) by results of 7-6 (3), 7-6 (2) and 7-5 on Friday, in this short 14 a little far from the frenzy of Porte d’Auteuil, Félix Auger-Aliassime got his ticket for the round of 16 and what should be one of the most memorable clashes of his career.

Nadal has 13 titles in Paris. A mud monster, the “ocher ogre” who, at Roland-Garros, has only dropped two players in 17 years: the amazing Swede Robin Soderling and the world number 1 Serb Novak Djokovic.

Good luck and bad luck

On Sunday, almost certainly at the Philippe-Chatrier, at an indefinite time, Felix will have the good fortune and bad luck to face Christmas in his arena.

On Friday, there were 25 journalists in the press room, three times more than usual, to question Felix about this confrontation.

Because, of course, this duel between Nadal, the fifth favorite, and Auger-Aliassime, the ninth, is intriguing. Although very unequal on paper, Felix has won his first match in Paris this year, after two unsuccessful attempts.

The two players have already crossed paths once. It was on clay in Madrid, three years ago, and “Rafa” won in two small sets.

Where will the “uncle” be?

But there is another intrigue, which goes beyond this face to face: where will be Toni Nadal, Quebec’s adviser for a year, but above all, uncle and former coach of the Spaniard, whom he helped to conquer Bet 10 times ?

“He will watch the match from a neutral zone,” said the racket L’Ancienne-Lorette.

Visibly a little tired of answering a wave of questions about his mentor’s involvement in the Christmas defeat process, the 21-year-old politely wanted to clear the record.

“It simply came to our notice then. I don’t think Toni can tell me anything new about Christmas. ”

“We have not spoken yet. [de stratégie]. See me [aujourd’hui]. It depends on him, but I don’t expect it from him, Auger-Aliassime added. I don’t think we’ll talk much about the game, not even with my coach Frédéric [Fontang]. Not much to say. I know Nadal, I’ve seen him play often, I know where he excels. »

The man with 21 major titles is also entitled to a lot of questions about it.

And it was the same story: “I won’t talk to Toni. For me, it’s very simple. He’s my uncle, I don’t think he wants me to lose, but he’s a professional. »

There are no secrets

Of Felix, “Rafa” said he was “one of the best players on the circuit.”

“He’s in the round of 16, I know I’ll have to play at a very high level to have a chance to go to the next round,” said the former No. 1, who doesn’t seem too upset about his foot since the start of the season. tournament …

“What I can do is focus on my strengths,” Felix said. I will serve well, I will try to use my right, to get to the net. »

“Anyway, if there was a secret to beating Rafa, he wouldn’t have won 13 times here,” he added, smiling.

lives from paris

Felix chases after a spectator

The crowd in Paris is not the sweetest and Felix Auger-Aliassime learned the hardest way on Friday. In the first round of his match against Serb Filip Krajinovic, Quebec was attacked by a spectator who called him ” pieces of shit (“shit”) and “zero” … Irritated, the ninth seed asked referee Greg Allensworth to intervene if the “supporter” finger started again. The reaction was not long in coming: the man was expelled from court 14 moments later, after again uttering insults to Auger-Aliassime.

Roland’s Gardens


The Roland-Garros site is a happy mix of modernity, as evidenced by the renewed Philippe-Chatrier, history, as embodied by Suzanne-Leglen, and nature, as can be seen walking to the court of Simonne-Matthew. The third largest plot in Paris is isolated from the rest of the site. To get there, you have to follow a path lined with trees and tall plants, which gardeners looked after yesterday morning. It’s magnificent … and exotic, so much so that we forget we’re in a tennis tournament.

Nadal wants to see Real Madrid

Moved from St. Petersburg to Paris due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the UEFA Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid will take place today in the Parc des Princes, a few non-Roland Garros. And Rafael Nadal should be in the stands to cheer on the people of Madrid. From the beginning of the fortnight, the Spaniard said that he had his tickets for this final date, which he could not attend often since it is played at the same time as the French Open. But tonight (Paris time), he will be there, unless his recurring physical problems force him to rest. And this, although the next day he will face Félix Auger-Aliassime, at a time to be confirmed. “Rafa” who spends an evening in “football” the day before a match: will Quebec be able to take advantage of the situation? It’s Christmas, at Roland Garros … it will probably take more than that to destabilize it.

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