By Toby Davis
LONDON (Reuters) – Felix Auger-Aliassime’s rapidly-rising star fizzled out at Wimbledon on Friday as the 18-year-old was comprehensively outshone by Frenchman Ugo Humbert in a tussle between the two youngest players left in the men’s draw.
Such is Auger-Aliassime’s obvious potential that the 19th seed had been touted as an outside bet to go all the way, but those predictions looked far-fetched as the Canadian was brushed aside 6-4 7-5 6-3 by 21-year-old Humbert in a one-sided third-round tie.
The French left-hander, ranked 66th in the world, had already achieved his best Grand Slam result before Friday’s win, and will now face Novak Djokovic in a “dream” last-16 tie.
“Maybe the best match of my young career,” he said about the prospect of facing the world number one.
Auger-Aliassime described his performance as “pretty embarrassing” and said the pressure had taken a toll but — when the initial pain of the defeat passes — he will be able to take positives from his Wimbledon debut.
In his two victories at the All England Club, as well as in his semi-final run at Queen’s in the buildup, he looked the real deal.
In the lead-up to Friday’s match, he told those predicting a shot at immediate success to “relax… I’m 18.”
Yet even his close contemporaries were fuelling expectations, with sixth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas, a stage ahead of the Canadian in his development, putting Auger-Aliassime’s talent on a pedestal.
If the Canadian, ranked 21 in the world, needed a pick-me-up, the fact that neither Roger Federer nor Novak Djokovic were in the top 30 at his age might do the trick, but he will certainly have better days than his first experience of Wimbledon’s Court One.
After he netted a forehand to bring up matchpoint he then fired another recklessly wide to end the contest.
“Pressure got to me… it got to a point where it was a bit embarrassing,” he said. “It was just tough, I just wasn’t finding ways. I think he just did what he had to do. It was solid. From my end it was pretty embarrassing.”
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Clare Fallon)