(August 9, 2019) MONTREAL – Top three favorites Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev were playing for a spot in the semifinals today at the Coupe Rogers presented by Banque Nationale. But they all had tough tasks ahead of them, as all eight quarterfinalists were seeded, a first since 2009 in Montreal.
Second seed Dominic Thiem was scheduled first against eight seed Daniil Medvedev: the Austrian had a perfect 2-0 record against Medvedev, but their only match on hardcourt had gone all the way to a third set tiebreak. The Russian has had stellar results on this surface in 2019, including a final last week in Washington: he had also been impressive in his first two rounds, losing only 9 games in four sets. On the other hand, Thiem was playing in is first tournament on hard court since Miami and was just coming back from a title on clay last week in Austria.
Right from the start, it was clear that the two players were not in the same shape, as Thiem looked flat and low on energy. The Russian broke in the first game, and never allowed the second seed back in the match. In only 57 minutes, and without giving Thiem a single break point, Medvedev reached his second ATP Masters 1000 semifinal with a comfortable 6-3 6-1 win.
After the match, Thiem agreed he didn’t feel 100% on court: ‘’With all the traveling and short transition, two very tough matches, I think the battery was empty today. This is just not enough in the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000, especially against a guy like Daniil, who is in a great shape, who is playing amazing tennis.‘’
Medvedev, who holds four career titles all on hardcourt, seemed understandably quite pleased with his performance: ‘’I was happy that I was able to play so well. It saved me a lot of energy and it gives me a lot of confidence.’’ Asked about his potential opponent in the semifinals, the Russian knew who he was cheering for: ‘’Of course, I’m supporting Karen (Khachanov). He’s from the same country and a good friend.’’
Khachanov, who had ended the hopes of local phenom Auger-Aliassime in the third round, had yet another tall task in front of him. The Russian was facing third seed Alexander Zverev, who was still undefeated in Montreal after winning the title in 2017. Zverev won the first two matches between the two, but Khachanov won their last match easily on his way to the Paris Masters 1000 title last fall.
Both players came on court after a short rain delay, and it was apparent from the get-go that Zverev wasn’t in a good day. The third seed got broken at love in the first game and lost the first nine points of the match. On the other side, Khachanov was solid from the baseline and was holding serve easily. Despite a late surge from Zverev who saved the first five set points, Khachanov took a convincing 6-3 lead in 36 minutes.
The start of the second set was better for the German, with both players holding until 3-2. But Zverev then played yet another game ridden with unforced errors to get broken at love. When KhZverev got his first break points of the match at 15-40: but it was too little to late as Khachanov won the last four points and the match to set-up an all-Russian semifinal.
Asked about that upcoming match, Khachanov had mixed feelings: ‘’It’s never easy to play against a friend. We have grown up together and we played all the tournaments since we are 12 or 14. From one side it is difficult, but from the other side, both of us will know what to expect, how we are playing completely different styles.’’
Late night rain means that the second semi-final match-up has yet to be confirmed. In the first match of the night, top seed Rafael Nadal raised his intensity and survived a stellar first set by Fabio Fognini to win 2-6 6-1 6-2. This was Nadal’s 12th win against the Italian. In the second match, 16th seed Gael Monfils was facing 10th seed and Wimbledon semi-finalist Roberto Bautista Agut when rain stopped play after…two points. The quarterfinal match will be resumed at 1PM tomorrow, but Nadal will be a strong favorite whomever he faces, as he leads 14-2 against Monfils and 3-0 against Bautista Agut.