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Auger-Aliassime keeps his head held high after defeat

  • Matt Trollope

Felix Auger-Aliassime presented a remarkably positive – or at worst, pragmatic – outlook as he fronted the media in the wee hours of Thursday morning at Melbourne Park.

He'd just lost a brutally physical, mentally draining five-set quarterfinal against Daniil Medvedev, from two-sets-to-love up and after holding a match point in the fourth set.

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Auger-Aliassime eventually fell 6-7(4) 3-6 7-6(2) 7-5 6-4, a result sending Medvedev into a second straight Australian Open semifinal, and Auger-Aliassime out of the tournament.

Yet the 21-year-old Canadian insisted there was reason for optimism.  

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"I'm going to leave Australia with my head held high, and I'm going to go into the rest of the season knowing that I can play well, I can play well against the best players in the world," said the world No.9, who lost after four hours and 42 minutes of battle at Rod Laver Arena.

"I always believed I could produce what I did tonight. I showed it, but definitely it's the difference between knowing that you have this inside of you and actually showing up and doing it and being close from winning, one point close.

"But of course it's good for myself. It's a world of competition, so at the end of the day I think it's a good message that I send to my fellow players, the people I'm competing with."

Auger-Aliassime stayed positive, but this was a loss that stung

This was a version of the Canadian talent who pushed Medvedev far harder and closer than he had in their previous three meetings. 

Auger-Aliassime was 0-3 in the head-to-head series, having lost his last seven sets to the world No.2. Just two weeks ago, at the ATP Cup in Sydney, Medvedev belted him 6-4 6-0.

But Auger-Aliassime was appearing in his third straight major quarterfinal, and came close to a second consecutive semifinal. 

These were positive signs of his progress – and signs which had clearly infused him with confidence. 

He was forced to repeat quality shot-making throughout the match – Medvedev is better than anyone at extending rallies – and for the most part he did, finishing with 64 winners.

Medvedev erased the match point he faced on serve in the fourth set, and in the end, the Russian's game was just that little bit safer, tighter and more dependable.

"I think he was just a little bit more clutch than me. A little bit more solid at times," Auger-Aliassime admitted.

"It's no surprise he's where he is now. He fights, tries to find solutions. He plays well when he needs to. I think that's the big difference, we saw the players playing good this week, they play well when it matters. 

"I'm looking forward to the next time I can put myself in that situation again. I believe I can cross the line."

Now entrenched in the top 10 and only continuing to improve, there will no doubt be more chances. 

Top players can only face each other in the later rounds of tournaments, and they typically only play at the biggest events. 

It means that should Auger-Aliassime encounter Medvedev once again, it may be on a similarly big stage.

And it would present a chance to rectify certain decisions and moments, memories of which he hoped would not linger from this bruising battle.

Auger-Aliassime feels the gap between he and the very best is closing

"At the end you step on the court, you want to have no regrets. I can go back and think I wish I made different choices, or I wish Daniil didn't play as good in certain moments. (But) I can't regret the effort that I put, and the chances I gave myself," Auger-Aliassime said.

"I like to look at it in a positive way. Of course I would have loved to win. I love to win every time. It sucks to lose in the end, but that's life. 

"I just need to accept it."