It’s that time of the season, where coach-player relationships in tennis tend to both end and begin.
And so it is for Félix Auger-Aliassime and Guillaume Marx, who have worked together since the Canadian was just 14.
They are amicably parting, after the cooperation brought Auger-Aliassime from highly-touted prospect all the way to the top 20.
Here’s the statement from Auger-Aliassime on Instagram; Marx was in Paris and in the stands for Auger-Aliassime’s first-round loss to Marin Cilic.
“I’ve recently decided to part ways with my long term coach Guillaume Marx. Our collaboration ends in the utmost integrity and respect for one another. In the last six years, I have had the chance to work with a coach (who) was passionate and entirely devoted to my career and the success of my project. He helped me develop as a tennis player and a person regardless of the many challenges we faced along the way.
“He is a big reason why I’m now at this stage of my career and that’s why I think we can be proud of what we’ve accomplished together. On top of it all, he has taught me fundamental values that will serve me for the rest of my life. And that, for me, is priceless.
“I keep only positive memories of the moments we’ve shared and I take this opportunity to wish him all the success he deserves in his future projects. For my part, I will keep working with Frédéric Fontang and the rest of my team.
“Thank you for everything coach. I will be eternally grateful.”
Sharing duties with Fontang
Over the last few years, Marx had been splitting the coaching duties with Fontang. The two, who both came up in the French system, had been friends since boyhood and ensured the message and the philosophy remained seamless whenever they handed over the baton.
Marx had also remained in his “main” job, which is as head coach of the men’s developmental program at Tennis Canada’s national centre in Montreal.
Relationships grow and change
When Marx and Auger-Aliassime first began working together, the kid was 14 – just beginning to dip his toes into the professional waters.
That’s not to say that happened in this case – only the two people within a coach-player relationship know the dynamic – but it’s a typical dynamic.
He’s now a grown man of 20 – no longer a young teen who’ll do what he’s told without questioning the reasons. Often these types of long-standing relationships struggle to evolve as quickly as a player in his formative years does.
Auger-Aliassime is an exceedingly mature and aware 20-year-old tennis player, as well. He’s fully involved in and committed to every decision, both on and off the court.
Looking to take that next, steep step
Fontang, who has worked with a number of other players who reached the top 30 and beyond – including Auger-Aliassime’s Davis Cup teammate Vasek Pospisil and Jérémy Chardy – remains on board.
But there now is some room to evolve the team, as Marx’s experience and expertise is more as a developmental coach.
The two of them helped Auger-Aliassime get inside the top 20 – a major feat.
But the top 10, and the top five – Grand Slam champion territory – are the two steepest steps of all. And it may well be, in time, that the 20-year-old will look for some extra help in climbing those steps.
That could mean a former player turned coach who knows what it’s like to breathe that rarefied air – a David Ferrer or Magnus Norman type. It could also mean a coach who has been there with a player or players.
The 2020 season has had plenty of highs for Auger-Aliassime, who has reached three ATP Tour Finals but hasn’t yet gone one victory further.
After an off-season that will be more compact than usual, he will look to take that next step in 2021, with a bit of a different look to his team.
(And no, despite all of that trial balloon that was making the rounds last week, Roger Federer won’t have anything to do with it).