Felix Auger-Aliassime picks his favourite from the ‘Big 3’ in exclusive Tennis365 interview

Kevin Palmer
Félix Auger-Aliassime in action at The Boodles. (Ben Hoskins for The Boodles)
Félix Auger-Aliassime in action at The Boodles. (Ben Hoskins for The Boodles)

Felix Auger-Aliassime has given Tennis365 an exclusive insight into the challenges of taking on the ‘Big 3’ of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

The Canadian world No.17 is one of the few players who has victories on his record against all three of the game’s modern greats, so he is in the perfect position to pass judgement on the debate of who is the best of all-time.

Speaking to Tennis365 in an exclusive interview at The Boodles tennis event at Stoke Park,  Auger-Aliassime offered up his verdict as he assessed the merits of three players who all have 20 or more Grand Slam wins to their credit.

Djokovic is the undisputed leader of the golden trio statistically, as he has the most Grand Slams and most weeks as world No 1, but Auger Aliassime suggests Federer and Nadal have merits of their own in the discussion over who should be seen as the greatest.

“All three of them are amazing in their own way and as for who is the toughest to play against, it depends on the surface and a few other factors,” Auger Aliassime told Tennis365.

“Roger was the one who could really just take out in an hour and you wouldn’t even feel you did too much wrong.

“Then you look at Rafa on clay and that is the biggest challenge there is in our sport. I also love his mentality. Everybody can aspire to his kind of mentality.

“We are lucky to have had all three of these great champions in our sport, but for me, I love Roger. He is just pure class, an amazing guy. On and off the court. Off the court, I’ve had a chance to talk with him at times and he has been so nice to me.

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“Then when he met my family, he showed he is such a genuine guy. He will see my girlfriend and say hi and just seems to remember everybody. A class act.”

The era of the ‘Big 3’ is finally coming to an end after almost two decades, with young guns like Auger-Aliassime daring to believe their time to challenge for the biggest prizes in the game will now come to challenge for Grand Slam glory.

Felix-Auger-Aliassime speaks to Tennis365's Kevin Palmer at The Boodles.
Felix-Auger-Aliassime speaks to Tennis365’s Kevin Palmer at The Boodles.

Yet he admits Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner have emerged as the new leaders of the next generation of champions, with the chasing pack now trying to close the gap.

“You could say it is pretty open now after this era when three or four guys were so dominant, but at the same time, we have two guys who are also pulling themselves apart from the rest of the group,” continued Auger-Aliassime.

“All credit to Carlos and Jannik because they have been playing some amazing tennis and it is up to the rest of us to get up there with them.

“Carlos is something of a prodigy and Sinner’s progression has been fantastic. It is a credit to him team and everyone around him how well he has been playing.

“I hope I can have a progression like he has had and begin to compete with them for the big titles.

Auger-Aliassime has struggled with his form and fitness over the last year, but he has shown signs of a revival ahead of Wimbledon and he is confident he can build on his return to the top 20 of the ATP Rankings.

“It has been a rough year for me,” he added. “Now I am coming back, I’m in the top 20 again, I’ve won back-to-back matches in tournaments and it feels like I’m getting close to where I want to be again. I feel like my game is coming back to where I want it to be.

“Wimbledon is here now and I just love this tournament. It is my dream to win this tournament one day, but it’s a tough time of the year for a number of reasons.

“This is a very short grass season and that is difficult, especially when the grass is very quick and sometimes slippy at the start of an event.

“Also, if you come out of the clay season with a little injury, you don’t have time to rest because you want to do everything you can to get out there and have some matches on grass because this is such a short season.

“I would describe my relationship with grass as love and hate. The first two years on grass were very good.

In 2019, I reached the finals in Stuttgart, the semis at Queen’s, I played some good tennis at Wimbledon.

“Then in 2021, I had my best run at Wimbledon and got to the quarter-finals, which was a great experience.

“Since then I’ve had a couple of first round defeats at Wimbledon and that has been difficult, but I know I can play well on grass.”

A first round match at Wimbledon against dangerous Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis will test Auger-Aliassime, but he is in the weaker half of the draw at Wimbledon and that could give him a chance to push for a place in the quarter-finals.