Felix Auger-Aliassime Australian Open 2022

Felix Auger-Aliassime reveals ‘big brother’ Jo-Wilfried Tsonga inspired him to pick up a racket

Felix Auger-Aliassime revealed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was his childhood idol and inspired him to play and hopes to have a similar impact on future generations of children.

Rising Canadian star Auger-Aliassime has enjoyed an impressive start to the new year, reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open and winning a first ATP Tour-level title at the ninth attempt.

He also reached the final of the Marseille Open 13. En route to the final, Auger-Aliassime overcame his childhood idol Tsonga in his opening round of 16 tie.

Tsonga provided a source of inspiration to the young Canadian.

Born in Montreal, Canada to a Togolese father who immigrated from Togo, Auger-Aliassime watched the former World number five as a child and he is one of the main reasons he started to play tennis.

Tsonga made the Canadian youngster feel as if he could achieve a top-level career in tennis as an athlete of colour himself.

Speaking to Eurosport, Auger-Aliassime said “I can’t deny the fact that since we both have the same background, skin colour, or very similar at least, I just felt like as a kid, when you have representation on your TV, you feel like you can relate.

“It really felt like, ‘this could be me?’

“So I think that’s why I idolised him and I really looked up to him, because I really felt like I could relate, compared to other American or European players, where it felt a bit distant, as a kid growing up, it felt like, ‘okay, this is for them, this is not attainable for me’.

“But seeing Jo doing his things, it felt like, ‘okay, maybe we do have a similar story or background’ and it felt like he was a big brother.”

After an excellent end to last year and start to the new year, Auger-Aliassime broke into the World’s top ten.

On the accolades, he said “to be in the top ten, in that position where kids potentially look up to me and see something in me that they like or they feel inspired by what I do is a great feeling.

“Because ultimately, what I want to do is win as much as I can, win all the big titles, and try to be ranked as high as possible.

“But if I can leave a trace and inspire a generation with what I do, I think at the end of the day that’s the better feeling, if you feel like you’ve made a difference in a couple of kids’ lives.”

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Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.