TOKYO — Felix Auger-Aliassime doesn’t just know the history. He watched it unfold.
When Andy Murray won gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics, pulling off the repeat in Rio de Janeiro, a teenaged Auger-Aliassime was tuned into the action from home in Quebec City.
“I have clear memories of that match,” he said. “I remember the emotions that we saw in that 2016 final from him. It’s a huge moment in a player’s career and the fact he won it twice is incredible actually.”
Auger-Aliassime is now focused on spoiling Murray’s shot at the three-peat.
The Canadian up-and-comer will face the two-time reigning Olympic champion in the opening round of the men’s tennis tournament at Tokyo 2020.
Auger-Aliassime, 20, is coming off a quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon and has climbed to a career-high 15th in the ATP rankings.
At 34, Great Britain’s Murray is more of a fading star. In fact, he’s fallen out of the Top-100.
When they met at the 2020 U.S. Open, the youngster cruised to a straight-sets victory.
Others can count out Murray, but his next opponent certainly isn’t going to be guilty of that.
“One of his big strengths is resilience,” Auger-Aliassime reminded. “You just know that until the match is over, it won’t be over. Until the last point, he always can come back. He’s shown great strength throughout his career. He’s never going to lose that.
“In 2016, when he finished No. 1, he was in his prime probably. It’s not a lie to say that he’s a different player today, but he’s still the same Andy, right? I’m going to expect the best from him and also going to try to give my best tennis to win.”
Auger-Aliassime, joined in Tokyo by his father Sam as coach, will also compete in mixed doubles in Tokyo alongside Gaby Dabrowski.
When he watched Murray win that second straight gold in 2016, he was imagining this very moment.
“I dreamed it, but I don’t know if I thought it was achievable in a way,” Auger-Aliassime said. “It was just this type of dream that you don’t know if you’re ever going to get a shot at. But year after year, you’re trying to be a better player. Of course, I’ve been playing tennis since I was a kid, so just trying to do better all the time. But last year or two years ago, when it became more realistic that I would potentially make the Olympic Games, that got me pretty excited and pretty nervous also.
“When I was flying here, I got pretty emotional because it was a big moment in my young life, and I’m going to try to play with my good emotions and my good passion to do my best.”