September 27, 2023

Open Court


Finally, Felix: Auger-Aliassime makes D.C. debut

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The downside of a 48-player draw with byes to the 16 seeds is that the tournament really doesn’t get going until Wednesday.

And then, if you have ambitions to win it, you have to play five matches in five days – in the heat and humidity.

As well, you have to hope that the weather is going to hold up.

For the last five days, it’s been sunny (if hot and humid). But the next few days at the Citi Open look to be one big “potential for a big-time thunderstorm to hit” forecast.

And so Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime, the No. 9 seed, finally took the court Wednesday against big-serving Reilly Opelka, after arriving before the weekend.

The two are meeting for the first time ever.

There were practices, including with Frances Tiafoe on the stadium court. And tournament obligations. But basically, a lot of waiting.

Auger-Aliassime’s last big practice came Tuesday, when he hit with Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania.

Berankis, generously listed at 5-foot-9, is not the guy you want to try to simulate the trajectory and power on the serve that you’re going to get from the 6-foot-11 Opelka. 

“I want to try to get a point off you”

Earlier in the week, Auger-Aliassime met with some local players as part of his obligations to the tournament and the ATP.

And when it was all said and done, one brave man went up to him and issued him a challenge.

Well, it was more of a challenge to himself – to try to win a point off the Canadian.

Good sport as he is, Auger-Aliassime smiled wide, and sprinted back to the baseline to give the guy an opportunity of a lifetime.

He gave him a few chances. But, not too surprisingly, it doesn’t go that well for the guy. But he deserves major props for asking.

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