Felix Auger-Aliassime, of Montreal pulled out of the French Open Sunday due to an injury. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Montreal native Auger-Aliassime drops out of French Open with injury

PARIS — Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime called his decision to pull out of the French Open one of the more difficult he’s had to make in his young tennis career.

The 18-year-old from Montreal pulled out of the second Grand Slam of the season on Sunday with a left abductor injury sustained this week during his run to the final of the Lyon Open.

“This one, I didn’t expect it … I was feeling great,” Auger-Aliassime said in a press conference. “And then during my semifinals (in Lyon) I started feeling pain in my groin, so yeah, I didn’t expect it. But at the same time, you know, we had time to think about it, do the exams, and it was a very thoughtful decision.

“I think I’m at peace just knowing that it’s not something that’s going to heal pretty fast, but I have to be careful. But I’m at peace knowing that I’ll probably be able to be ready for the grass (portion of the season).”

Auger-Aliassime appeared laboured through his Saturday loss to France’s Benoit Paire in straight sets in the Lyon Open final and had an MRI Sunday morning before deciding to pull out.

He said the results “weren’t in favour of me playing,” in Paris but added that he didn’t have any regrets in competing in the full match against Paire on Saturday.

“I don’t think it would have changed much. I think the damage was done … I don’t think I would have saved my chances of playing here,” Auger-Aliassime said. “In the finals I was just trying to manage to finish the match. But even after that, I was OK. It hurt, but … I was waiting to see the results, so I didn’t want to say that I had no chance of playing.

“I just wanted to get an MRI done first. After seeing the results, we thought it would be better, more careful to pull out.”

He said his injury was classified as Grade 1 and he expects it to heal “within seven to 10 days if I’m careful.” He hopes to return for the grass-court ATP 250 Mercedes Cup, which begins June 10 in Stuttgart, Germany.

“If I had played five sets on clay, I run the risk of worsening the lesions. This is why we decided I should pull back,” he said. “And I hope I will be back in a tournament in two weeks.”

Auger-Aliassime rose to a career-high No. 22 in the rankings by making it to his second final of the season. He is now the second-highest ranked Canadian on the ATP Tour — behind Milos Raonic and ahead of Denis Shapovalov.

The French Open also would have marked Auger-Aliassime’s first time playing a Grand Slam as a seeded player at No. 25. He was replaced in the main draw by Spanish lucky loser Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., is the lone Canadian in the men’s singles draw in Paris.

Auger-Aliassime has yet to win a main-draw match at a major in his career. He bowed out of last year’s French Open in the second round of qualifying.

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