04:27 AM GMT March 08, 2018
Weeks after making his ATP World Tour debut in Rotterdam, teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime is about to tick off another first after winning through qualifying at the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday. The 17-year-old from Montreal defeated Slovak Norbert Gombos 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 to reach his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 main draw.
It makes Auger-Aliassime the first man born in the 2000s to contest a Masters 1000 main draw. And his reward for doing so – a first-round meeting with fellow Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil.
“I’m grateful. It just shows I’m on the right path,” Auger-Aliassime said “I’m doing some great things. The future is probably bright but there’s still a lot of work to do, to get a constant level in these matches.
“With the knee injury I didn’t play many matches at the start of the year so to come here, playing some tough guys, winning some tough matches, that’s exactly what I needed.”
The teenager narrowly fell to Filip Krajinovic in his tour-level debut at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament last month before falling to Italian Thomas Fabiano in his second tour outing as a wild card in Marseille. Our cameras caught up with Auger-Aliassime before his ATP World Tour 500 debut in Rotterdam.
The Canadian admitted nerves got the better of him on that occasion. Third time around in a tour-level main draw he would place no expectations on his results, just on his attitude.
“So excited. It’s so great,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I started good then he raised his level. He was dominating me through the first set and the first half of the second and then I just stuck with him.
“I served well, stayed calm and I think it just paid off at the end. After playing my best level since the start of the year in the third and to get through to my first Masters 1000, it is just unbelievable.”
The top seed in qualifying, Pospisil defeated Spaniard Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 7-6(5), 6-2 to book his main draw berth. Three times the World No. 75 has qualified for the BNP Paribas Open. Last year he did so and went on to land his biggest career win over then No. 1 Andy Murray en route to the third round.