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Felix Auger-Aliassime On Learning From Federer, Wearing The Barricade And Nights In New York – Forbes

Felix Auger-Aliassime enjoys both the equipment and fashion side of tennis. (Photo by Mike … [+] Lawrence/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
There’s just something about those night matches in New York City, even for a self-proclaimed fan of day matches. ATP World No. 8 Felix Auger-Aliassime says playing under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open has generated some of his best memories in the sport.
“Normally I like the day matches, but in New York there is something special about the night,” he says. “The crowd really gets intense when you play at night. Everywhere else I like the day, but New York … at night.”
The 22-year-old from Montreal, who says playing in New York has the feel of playing at home because he gets so much support, has seen the importance of learning from the greats in his already successful career.
Felix Auger-Aliassime, in his second year with Adidas, is getting more input on the colors he wears … [+] on the court. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Not only is he “lucky enough” to have Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal’s uncle and longtime coach, coaching him now, talking about far more than tennis, he cites opportunities when he was 17-years-old to train with Roger Federer. Auger-Aliassime says the knowledge he gained from the legend was far beyond just the tennis, moving into the world of business.
“I remember having interesting conversations with him about managing traveling, how he likes to be involved in all the decision-making of his (sponsorship) deals and how he likes to be hands-on with negotiating,” Auger-Aliassime says. “I am still young, but that is something very interesting, how the negotiation process happens. I remember having conversations about it and he had great things to say.”
Taking the life lesson advice he’s garnered from his parents, Toni Nadal and Federer, Auger-Aliassime says he’s learned it’s crucial to make it his business to understand what he’s signing and that he’s working with companies he can align with. “It is my second year with Adidas,” he says. “It feels so short, but I am having a lot of fun and hopefully it is a long-term relationship.”
One of Auger-Aliassime’s most high-profile sponsorship deals started in 2021 when he switched to Adidas for apparel and footwear (he’s also one of the faces of the new Babolat Pure Aero racket, a company that he has been with since he was 4 years old). With the Adidas partnership, he says he spent the first while trying all the brand’s footwear models to see what worked for him and was excited Adidas brought back the Barricade.
Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Fernandez during “The Tennis Plays for Peace” exhibition … [+] match to raise awareness and humanitarian aid for Ukraine ahead of the 2022 U.S. Open. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
“That was the shoe, even when I was a kid,” he says. “Everyone knew about the Barricade. It is just such a well-known shoe in tennis and in sports. I saw it all the time growing up in tennis clubs, it is one of the most famous shoes ever made. I am glad I am wearing the newest version of it.”
When Auger-Aliassime first signed with Adidas he made a trip to their headquarters in Germany to get a personal fitting, saying it’s important to him how everything fits for on-court movement, especially the shorts. “I did all the testing and scanning,” he says, “so I have clothes that fit me like a glove.”
Auger-Aliassime tends toward fitted cuts for shorts and shirts and prefers light and airy materials, staying away from anything that gets heavy or restricting. As his relationship with the brand grows, he’s getting more involved in giving feedback on designs, “saying what I like and being able to switch colors if I prefer to have a difference color on a day match or if I like a tone lighter.” So far, he’s called the collections he’s worn—at the U.S. Open in New York, Adidas rolled out the Thebe Magugu collection, colorfully inspired by African heritage—an amazing design.
“Everybody wants my shorts and T-shirts,” he jokes. “It is a problem I have.”
Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in a different Adidas outfit early in 2022. (AP Photo/Tertius … [+] Pickard)
The discussion with Adidas designers fits the Canadian’s interests. When he’s on the road for tournaments, shopping keeps him entertained, along with sampling the best restaurants each city has to offer. “Materials are super important if you are in them all day,” he says. “I like to look good and if you look good, you feel good. If you have outfits you love, you play good in them and there is something special about them and your brain remembers those moments. The same thing goes for off-court. I like to think about what I am going to wear out for an event, shopping or dinners. It is something I have always enjoyed, matching colors and fit.”
All the off-court interests take a back seat when Auger-Aliassime pushes deeper into tournaments. As he’s matured, he’s stopped worrying about his ranking, something that turned into a negative pressure-builder when he was younger. “I learned through experiences that wasn’t working for me,” he says. “Every tournament for me is an opportunity to win, it doesn’t matter the size of it. When you come to a tournament like New York, the motivation is even higher. Hopefully at the end of my career I will be able to have won a few of them, these are the tournaments you want to win. Now the ranking is something very positive that I can look at and draw motivation from.”
The winner of the 2016 U.S. Open juniors, says that even though “New York is not the easiest city to relax in” he’s loved coming to it for years. Now he hopes to extend his stay, giving him ample opportunity to go out and sample the restaurants. “The city has a lot to offer,” Auger-Aliassime says. “After a long day at the (U.S. Open) site, it is nice to come back and enjoy a meal with the team and family.” Even if it does mean a late evening after one of those famed New York City night matches.


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