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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Felix Auger-Aliassime

Hall of Famers John McEnroe and Chrissie Evert have seen the future of men's tennis. His name is Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Photo credit: @QueensTennis

Chrissie Evert and John McEnroe operated at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum on court, but both took a rocket ride to the top of the world rankings.

Baseliner Evert topped the WTA rankings at age 21 earning the nickname "Chris America."

Tsitsipas: Felix is Toughest Opponent

Serve-and-volleyer McEnroe, one of the few men to attain the world No. 1 ranking in singles and doubles, supplanted rival Bjorn Borg as world No. at age 21 in 1980, prompting some traditionalists to brand him America's tennis menace.

Both Hall of Famers have seen the future of men's tennis: Felix Auger-Aliassime.

In a conference call with the media today to promote ESPN's exclusive first-to-last-ball Wimbledon coverage featuring all 18 courts and beginning on July 1st, McEnroe emphatically declared the 18-year-old Canadian a future world No. 1.

"I mean Auger-Aliassime he'll be No. 1 in the world," McEnroe told the media. "As far as how he could do (at Wimbledon?) These guys come along once every five years. He's 18 he looks like he's 25 physically. 

"Felix is like a Becker type, a Nadal-type. I think he's got as good a chance of any of the young guys to make a deep run at this point, no question about it. Felix and Tsitsipas would be the two favorites (of the NextGen stars) to make a deep run at this point. Winning it is a different story, right now."

A year ago, the 6-foot-4 Montreal native was ranked No. 185 and had never played a single grass court match at the pro level.

Now, Auger-Aliassime enters his first Wimbledon main draw ranked a career-high No. 21 with grass-court wins over former Wimbledon quarterfinalist Nick Kyrgios and former semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov. 

Despite the fact he's played just eight grass-court matches in his career, McEnroe believes Auger-Aliassime's rise to the top—and a Grand Slam championship—is coming soon.

"I think he will be the No. 1 player—that's what I think. I think that's a pretty good indication of how I think about him," McEnroe said. "Not only the physical part, but the mental part. It's great to see someone at that age able to handle it right now.

"It seems like it's no sweat. We'll see what happens in the next couple of years. It wouldn't surprise me if he won something in the next couple of years—a major."

Auger-Aliassime is the son of a tennis coach, whose balance off both wings, imposing serve, explosive return game and smooth transition skills make him, along with Stefanos Tsitsipas, the two most complete NextGen stars.

Evert, whose father Jimmy Evert was her teacher and long-time coach, calls Auger-Aliassime the total package and she's most impressed by the young Canadian's poise.

"I agree," Evert said of McEnroe's assessment. "He's got it all. He's got it all. He's got that composure that you don't see (in young players). He doesn't flustered. He's very mature."


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