By Sudipto Ganguly
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Teenaged Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime says he is not losing confidence in his game despite bowing out in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday with a 7-5 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4 loss to world number 256 Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.
The Canadian climbed to a career-high ranking of 17 in a breakthrough 2019, but he was undone at Melbourne park by his error-prone performance against Gulbis, who last registered a tour-level win in July.
The world number 22 managed just a single win in four matches at the inaugural ATP Cup in Australia but reached the semi-finals at the Adelaide International warmup before coming to Melbourne.
"Every time you come to Australia the main goal is the Aussie Open, so it's not good," Auger-Aliassime, seeded 20th in Melbourne, told reporters. "That's what the results show.
"But at the same time I am staying calm and positive because I feel I am not far from playing well and winning matches. My game was really coming along well in Adelaide and I lost a close one there...
"I don't want to lose too much belief over the results of these first few tournaments. I'll keep my head up and keep doing what I'm doing well and we'll see what happens next."
Fellow Canadian rising star Denis Shapovalov suffered a similar fate on Monday, losing 6-3 6-7(7) 6-1 7-6(3) to unseeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the first round.
Auger-Aliassime, 19, had 44 unforced errors and served seven double faults in his loss, which follows his first-round exit at the U.S. Open last year.
"Of course. The season is just starting," he said. "This is obviously disappointing and I haven't swallowed this yet. It's tough to go out this early.
"I have to talk with my coaches to look in detail at what happened."
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Hugh Lawson)