Auger-Aliassime ‘feeling fine’ despite heart issue, agent says

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Less than 24 hours after a heartbreaking end to his main draw debut at a Grand Slam, Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime is focused on his next tournament instead of the heart palpitations that forced him to retire from his first-round match.

Bernard Duchesneau, the agent for the 18-year-old rising star, said Tuesday that Auger-Aliassime was “feeling fine” within an hour of retiring in the third set of his Monday night match against fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

“We’re already looking at the upcoming schedule and we’re all out of New York, the whole team and Felix and his parents,” Duchesneau said in a phone interview with The Canadian Press. “That’s what it is. It’s sports. Things happen and you turn the page and you move forward.

“Yesterday’s story was obviously not the way we would have written it but it’s just what it is. … We’re all going to work to make sure next time he’s going to finish the battle and that’s more what the disappointment (was about), not finishing a great battle against a great friend. But he’s fine today. A couple hours after (Monday’s match) he was smiling and joking. He’s not down or anything.”

Trailing 2-0 in the third set, Auger-Aliassime was seen grimacing and clutching his chest before asking for a medical time out. An ATP doctor, stethoscope in hand, examined him on court and tried to decrease Auger-Aliassime’s heart rate by dumping a bottle of cold water over his head.

Auger-Aliassime played three more games, winning one of them, before deciding to stop the match, ending a much-hyped contest between Canada’s top young tennis stars.

Duchesneau said the cause of Auger-Aliassime’s elevated heart rate was the heat and humidity in New York, dismissing the notion of a pre-existing condition.

The agent added that Auger-Aliassime saw the ATP Tour doctor briefly Monday night, which he said is protocol, but the Montreal native was not required to see a specialist or undergo any further tests at a hospital.

“It was palpitations that he had. The kid couldn’t be in better shape,” Duchesneau said. “It’s not like a major problem, it’s more the fact that it was the humidity that (made it) very difficult. And with the stress and everything, it’s not something you want to take risks with.

“He had that problem, he was not feeling too good and it was almost impossible in those circumstances (for him to keep going), but there’s no diagnosis or anything at this point. Obviously we will make sure it’s being investigated properly and there’s nothing else. But for yesterday it’s the heat that was the reason for the condition.”

Auger-Aliassime told a TSN reporter after the match that he’d experienced heart palpitations before.

“We’re not quite sure of the reason yet but we’ll look deeper into that,” he said Monday night. “I was hoping (the heart rate) could go down so I could finish that match but it was just impossible for me to keep going with signs of dizziness and everything.”

Auger-Aliassime was visibly distraught when he retired, burying his face into a towel and starting to cry before being comforted on the sidelines by Shapovalov, who advanced to the second round with the 7-5, 5-7, 4-1 victory.

The No. 116-ranked teen went through three qualifying matches in New York last week to secure his spot in the main draw. He was hoping for the same kind of success Shapovalov had in his U.S. Open main draw debut last year, when the rising star from Richmond Hill, Ont., made it to the fourth round as an 18-year-old.

“The biggest thing is he’s really disappointed, to be honest with you,” Duchesneau said. “It’s not about (the heart palpitations), it’s about the fact that it happened at the wrong moment. He was in a great match and a great challenge.

“Felix was crying after the game because he felt that he had this chance and he was playing good tennis. … It’s something you don’t control and you don’t want to stop the game. But at one point he looked at his team and we all felt it was the right thing to do.

“He’s 18 years old, he’s going to be back on this stage often and yesterday the best thing was for him to stop at that point. But he’s going to be back very soon.”





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