Tim Henman has praised Felix Auger-Aliassime for the maturity and experience he displayed in his comeback victory over Juan Pablo Varillas in the first round of the French Open.
The 21-year old Canadian was in trouble against the qualifier ranked 125th in the world, going 6-2 6-2 down, but he pulled himself together, as the Peruvian fell apart, and the ninth seed was able to close out the comeback, the final score being 2-6 2-6 6-1 6-3 6-3.
“It’s a great effort," said Eurosport expert Henman, a 2004 semi-finalist himself at Roland-Garros.
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"Because, you know, Auger-Aliasime comes into the match as clear favourite but then loses the first two sets 6-2 6-2 against a qualifier ranked 125 in the world so it would have been very easy for him to panic at that stage.
"I think there are some times when people have questioned his competitive spirit, you know when things are not going well, but I think he showed a lot of maturity, he didn’t panic.
"Then he slowly started to turn the match around so, from a really bad situation, Auger-Aliassime can take some confidence in coming through that match."
The Brit was keen to acknowledge the Canadian's combination of tactical nous and athleticism.
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"I look at his game and you look at his athletic ability; he has all the pieces of the puzzle and he’s so powerful. He moves so well, he came forward and played some beautiful drop volleys at times, but for me, it’s dealing with the adversity.
"When things are going great, he can beat anyone, but it’s when he’s not quite on his game that he struggles. It’s a good example of him learning his trade and showing a little bit of experience when it wasn’t going well.
"He didn’t panic - in a best of five sets you still have a chance when you’re down two sets to love - I think this is a really important win for him today.”
An important win, as Henman says, for Auger-Aliassime, who faces the winner of qualifier Camilo Ugo Carabelli and Russian Aslan Karatsev in the second round.
Felix Auger-Aliassime à Roland-Garros en 2022
Image credit: Getty Images
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