Tennis Prose



Fantastic Felix: The Prince Who Will Be King

By Scoop Malinowski

Something extraordinary happened today in Indian Wells. On the surface it was just another tennis match, Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 64 62 to move on to the third round.

But it was much more than a routine second round match, it was a declaration that a new king has arrived, a new superstar was born.

Tsitsipas was well aware of Felix, he lost all three matches to the two years younger Canadian in the juniors and today was to be there first pro meeting. Freshly into his new top ten ATP status, Tsitsipas was extra motivated and perhaps even desperate to put Felix in his place and to show the upstart who is superior player.

Tsitsipas tried everything in his arsenal but Felix was simply better in every department. He got the early break in the first and the second sets and never looked back.

Fresh off some red clay success in Brazil where he finaled and QFed (lost to Djere in both events) and beat Pablo Cuevas twice in two weeks (he also beat Fognini 62 63 in Rio), Felix was all over the court, moving like a prime Djokovic and his ball striking was just a little cleaner and more explosive than Tsitsipas all match long.

He played with a confidence and demeanor that he KNEW he was better than Tsitsipas and he proved it emphatically.

The strokes and form of Felix looked more efficient and clean. Tsitsipas for the entire match seemed off timing and uncomfortable, as if the pace and spin of Felix’s shots were alien to him and he could not adjust or adapt.

Jimmy Arias revealed last week that a hitting partner who has hit with all the young ATP guns said that Felix’s shots are the heaviest. The hitting partner’s evaluation and revelation was proven correct today.

Late in the second set Felix lead the game 40-15 but then proceeded to serve three double faults. With an opening to fight back into the match, Tsitsipas hopped around, trying to spark his footwork to be able to respond to Felix’s unique firepower. But he failed and Felix still won that game despite three double faults. Felix closed it out comfortably.

The teenager let out a massive roar and fist pump. The win was highly valuable for so many reasons. Felix destroyed a top ten player easily. And now he knows he can beat any player in the ATP, including Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. At only 18, you have to wonder what the heck this dynamo will be doing at 20? 21? 23? Or even in Paris and Wimbledon?

The loss is devastating for Tsitsipas, his journey to the top now has a major obstacle to overcome. Stefanos has no idea if he can ever solve the Felix puzzle. And he may always be stuck in the shadows of this Montreal marvel.

You see, Felix is just 18 and he will continue to get better and better. His physical and mental prime are years away. But today, Felix looked as good as peak Djokovic, flying around the court, ripping shots off both wings, very effective serving, clean compact strokes, moving the ball around at will, so cool and composed under pressure, and even that running two hand backhand pivot passing shot winner up the line. Vintage Djokovic.

But the scary thing is Felix could be even better than Djokovic. I don’t remember Djokovic being this good at 18. I don’t remember Djokovic winning an ATP Challenger match at 14 as Felix did. I don’t remember Djokovic dominating and destroying a top ten player at age 18.

As crazy as it sounds, Felix can develop into a better version of Novak Djokovic.

Yes, this marvel was THAT IMPRESSIVE today in his electrifying performance of tennis devastation of the lethal top ten juggernaut Tsitsipas.

It’s fascinating to imagine the quality of tennis that this young marvel, now ranked 58, will produce over the next five years before he matures into his peak finished product.


  • Scoop Malinowski · March 13, 2019 at 10:45 am

    I see Andreescu matadoring and carving up Muguruza also. Gonna be a tough day for Sumyk, who could endure another, “Tell me something I don’t know” from his boss.

  • Hartt · March 13, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    Scoop, I hope you and Catherine are right about Bianca vs Garbine. Obviously I have been watching Bianca closely, but have not seen Garbine recently, so don’t know what to expect from her.

  • catherine · March 13, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    Bianca wins 6-0 6-1 – I don’t know if there was anything wrong with Muguruza. If not, then this must go down as a turning point in her career. She just isn’t a very good player now and her W’don and RG wins seem a mystery, strange one-offs which will never be repeated.

  • catherine · March 13, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    Bianca will play Svitolina or Vondrouskova and I can see her in the final.

  • Hartt · March 13, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    I could only see parts of Bianca’s match because it was on at exactly the same time as the Milos and Shapo matches. Do the IW organizers have something against Canadian tennis fans?

    Milos won against Struff in SS. Shapo is down to Hurkacz in the third set.

    Anyway, from what I did see of Bianca’s match she simply continued to play superb tennis. I thought she could win, but certainly did not expect that kind of beat down against Muguruza.

  • catherine · March 13, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    Vondrousova. And it looks like the only thing wrong with Garbine was Bianca.

  • Hartt · March 13, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    It would be so amazing if Bianca did make the final in the first Premier Mandatory tournament she has ever played.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 13, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    Imagine what Andreescu would have done to Serena, if she mashed up Muguruza with a blowout score. Winning all these matches has made Andreescu extremely confident. She can win this title and win majors this year. Something very special is happening with Andreescu, she isn’t breaking out she’s exploding like a volcano into the elite pantheon of the WTA.

  • Hartt · March 13, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    This breakout for Bianca reminds me of Shapo’s breakthrough in Montreal when he was 18. Although Bianca hasn’t won against a legend like Rafa, she has made the SF of a big tournament. And she has the real possibility of making the final. In her press conferences and interviews Bianca has a good combination of confidence but not underestimating her opponents.

  • catherine · March 14, 2019 at 3:13 am

    Bianca will play Svitolina who must be wrecked after those two long matches.

    Bencic and Andreescu both such promising players – but as several people have pointed out, they look almost exactly alike on court. Better choose their kit with that in mind 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 14, 2019 at 9:16 am

    Nathalie Tauziat knew this girl Andreescu was special four years ago at Eddie Herr, wish I recorded all the things she said about her. The great ones have a special eye to see the special qualities in the young players and they can develop it.

  • Hartt · March 14, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    The Tennis Canada officials knew Bianca was special as well. Normally they insist that the junior players they sponsor go to the National Training Centre in Montreal. but they allowed Bianca to remain at home (near Toronto) and assigned Tauziat to coach her. They didn’t do that even for Shapovalov.

  • catherine · March 15, 2019 at 2:49 am

    Kerber bts Venus Williams in SS to go into the s/f where she will be the oldest player by several years. She may have a tough one v Bencic but that was a real achievement by Angie who hasn’t been in a s/f at IW since 2013. Puts to rest the debacle in Dubai.

    (If I were Angie I’d develop a bruised toe, skip Miami and go back to Europe to work on the clay.)

  • catherine · March 15, 2019 at 3:15 am

    Some strange comments elsewhere on this match – I wouldn’t say grudging but revealing of the hold the Williams sisters have on the imagination of fans. Wouldn’t matter who beat Venus.

    Strong impression from the WTA that this wasn’t the result they wanted.

    Pliskova/Bencic not a riveting match. Lots of errors from Ka and Belinda moved much better.

  • catherine · March 15, 2019 at 6:57 am

    Interesting notes: Angie says she practises a lot with Bencic so she’s familiar with her game. So the myth that women don’t practise with each other is revealed to be just a myth, and is it a good idea to practise with players you are likely to meet in competition ? How many top players do this ?

  • catherine · March 15, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Quote especially for Scoop I noticed on Youtube: ‘Kerber seems too Marcello Rios’ 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 15, 2019 at 8:46 am

    Catherine, it’s not a myth, most women don’t hit with others, they use coaches or hitting partners. A few exceptions though. I will keep an eye on the Miami practice courts and see if this trend is changing.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 15, 2019 at 8:47 am

    Kerber is Riosing her game up? That can only be a good thing to have Rios kind of variety. It’s paying results.

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