Rogers Cup Toronto: Nadal, Djokovic Ease Past Opponents, while Thiem, Fognini Lose
(August 8, 2018) No. 1 Rafael Nadal flew past Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-3 in the Spaniard’s opening match at the Rogers Cup also known as the Toronto Masters Series event.
It was his first hard-court match since January.
‘’I don’t play a singles match on hard court since Australia,’’ said Nadal. So is a long time. And that’s it. You need time.
“And the victories of course helps and good to work on the practice for sure, no? But even if you have a good work on the practice, you need matches to get that percentage that you need.”
“But I feel that of course I was not at my 100 percent today,” Nadal continued. “But at the same time it’s true that it’s impossible, no? After a while, you need matches. And when I say I don’t feel myself 100 percent, I say that I didn’t play fantastic match, but I didn’t play a bad match, no?”
Nadal will play Stan Wawrinka in the round of 16 on Thursday night. The Swiss came into the tournament with a wild card, which was supposed to go to Andy Murray, who pulled out of the tournament days before it was set to begin suffering from fatigue.
Wawrinka saved four match points in the third set tiebreak to defeat Marton Fucsovics 1-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(10).
Four-time Canadian Masters champion the ninth seed Novak Djokovic advanced to the round of 16 of the Rogers Cup defeating Canadian wild card Peter Polansky 6-3, 6-4.
The Serbian is coming into Toronto fresh from winning his 4th Wimbledon title for his 13 career major.
“I thought I served well in the moments when I really need it,” said the last man to hold all four majors. “I thought I found pretty good accuracy and angles with the first serve, and also my second serve worked pretty well. Overall, my game was so-and-so. In the moments when I probably needed to step it up, I did.”
Asked about the shot clock being used during the tournament he said: “I didn’t feel that it affected me in a negative way at all in those two matches. In contrary, I actually feel like there is more time now than before because the shot clock starts counting down once the chair umpire calls the score. Sometimes it takes several seconds before the chair umpire calls the score if it’s a long exchange or a good point and the crowd gets in.
“So I’m pretty comfortable with it. You know, it’s good that we have shot clock in the tournaments prior to the US Open. It’s basically Toronto and Cincinnati and Washington have shot clock because of the decision of the US Open to introduce it to the main draw. That’s the reason why we have it.”
Second seed Alexander Zverev was a 6-4, 6-4 winner over qualifier Bradley Klahn. Other seeds advancing included 4 Kevin Anderson, 8 John Isner, and 11 Diego Scwartzman.
Third seed Juan Martin del Potro withdrew from the tournament with a left wrist injury.
— Juan M. del Potro (@delpotrojuan) August 8, 2018
Del Potro was replaced in the draw by the soon-to-be retiring Mikhail Youzhny who lost to Robin Haase 7-5, 6-2.
Canadian teen Denis Shapovalov knocked out 14th seed Fabio Fognini 6-3, 7-5. The youngster came back from 0-4 down in the second set.
“Yeah, I told myself — I just tried to, you know, go back to being a little bit more disciplined and building your points more,” he said.
“And then I got the break at 4-0, so I told myself, okay, let’s hold. Now you’re only down one break and maybe you’ll have a chance to break.
“And once I was up 4-2, it felt like I had a lot of momentum rolling with me, so I took advantage of that game and played really well.
“And after that, yeah, I just used my momentum extremely well.”
“Honestly, I was just preparing for the third set trying to get a rhythm. Just getting ready to play big in the third.
“And then, you know, once I got that one break, I told myself, okay, let’s keep fighting and, you know, maybe you’ll have a chance to break him again. You’ve done it a couple of times in the match so you could definitely come back.
“And I just picked my level up. I kind of loosened up. And honestly, I was down 4-0, but I was just missing the balls by a little bit. So it was actually pretty close. I mean, I knew I was able to come back.
“And obviously it’s extremely satisfying to win that set, you know, not having to go into a third set, whereas, you know, the odds were so stacked against me.”
Seventh seed and Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem was knocked out by up-and-coming Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 7-6(6.
“I felt very confident from the beginning of the match,” said he former top junior. “I felt like I was stronger than him today. I was more experienced than him on the court. So I feel like, you know, in all aspects in my game, I was just slightly much better.
“And confidence played an important role in my game today. I felt my serve was working really well. And I managed to win lots of easy points on my serve and put pressure on him, knowing that he cannot find solutions while I was serving on my service games.
“So, yeah, it was a fantastic match from the beginning till the end. And I’m really looking forward on my next match because I want to prove that I can play even better than that.”
More ATP NextGens caused some damage in the draw as Karen Khachanov defeated 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4, 7-6(3) and Frances Tiafoe stopped Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6, 4-6, 6-1.
The American, who won his first ATP title at Delray Beach earlier this year credits his new confidence in getting him past tough opponents.
“I’ve had a ton of tough losses throughout my career,” sadi Tiafoe. “I mean, you know, ’16, ’17. I had match points in Indian Wells against Goffin in ’18. I lost the doubles. I was six in the third in Acapulco. Obviously Roger in five. I mean, it was constantly a learning process for me.
“Now, since my first title, I’m starting to get over the hump and beating these guys. I feel on any given day I’m ready to beat anyone. I’m not really nervous walking on the court. I feel right at home.”
Photos in gallery by Nida Alibhai: