Rafael Nadal tops Daniil Medvedev to Defend Rogers Cup Title
(August 11, 2019) MONTREAL – Top seed Rafael Nadal was dominant on Sunday in getting his fifth Coupe Rogers title, defeating 6th seed Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-0 in Montreal. On a particularly windy day, the Spaniard managed to do something he had never done before in his successful career: defend a hardcourt title.
Medvedev had been playing flawless tennis on the way to the final, his first ever at the Masters 1000 level. He had yet to lose a set, beating Edmund, Garin, Thiem and Khachanov handily along the way and was also coming in from another final on hardcourt last week in Washington. The Russian showed his talent right from the first game, winning two very long rallies to set up break point. Nadal saved it, and after almost nine minutes, held serve. This turned out to be right away a key moment of the match, as the Spaniard never looked back, started dominating the rallies, broke for 3-1 and then never allowed Medvedev back in the match.
Nadal agreed winning the first game was key: ‘’First game was very tough, he played a great game. He came to that match playing so well, playing a lot of matches the last weeks. I saved that game. After that I think I played a solid match.’’
This was quite an understatement, as Nadal was dominating every aspect of the game throughout the match. Medvedev, who has one of the most consistent backhands in the game, was often forced to go for too much, which created an uncharacteristic amount of unforced efforts. ‘’My tactic was to not give him that much time, to try to play deep, to not give him easy shots, Medvedev said after the match. It was kind of working in the beginning of the match, but then I completely lost the momentum. It was only him controlling the play, controlling the game.’’ Nadal agreed his game plan was successful today: ‘’I did a lot of things well: changing directions, changing rhythms during the point. The slice worked well. I played some high balls, then changed down the line. I think I played smart this afternoon, it was without a doubt my best match of tournament.’’
Despite the disappointment of the loss, Medvedev seemed happy of reaching his first Masters 1000 final, a milestone in his young career. The 23-year-old Russian rapidly became a crowd favorite in Montreal, and he attributed it to his knowledge of French: ‘’Every time I was speaking French, it was funny, everyone started loving me! I’m sure that Montreal will be one of my favorite tournaments. I hope it’s going to last for all my life.’’
This is one thing he will have in common with his opponent, as Montreal is a special place as well for Rafael Nadal, who won his first hardcourt title in Montreal in 2005 against Andre Agassi: ‘’Here, the fans are very passionate about the sport. I always felt when I have been playing here that here is unbelievable atmosphere out here, full crowd. I always enjoyed the city, I have fun going every evening for dinner and walking around.’’
The 2019 edition was indeed as popular as ever: more than 220,000 fans made it to Montreal, in yet another attendance record. This is despite having to cancel the Saturday night session following the withdrawal of Gael Monfils in the semifinals. Eugène Lapierre, the tournament director, added: ‘’If we would have had Saturday night, we would have broken the record by far more. Now it’s going to be by a few thousand. During the whole week there were many people on the site and we are very happy of how the week turned out. On Sunday morning for the qualifications, the line was down the road. I believe the players feel they are appreciated, and this counts a lot.’’
This event marked the 40th edition of the Rogers Cup, formerly known as the Canadian Open. Nadal, with five titles, will need one more in order to catch-up to the all-time leader, Ivan Lendl, who has six. The Spaniard will be trying to tie the record next year in Toronto, as the WTA event will be coming to Montreal.