Rafael Nadal opened his summer hard court campaign dispatching Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-3. THe match featured nine breaks of serve, and Rafa was broken three times, so it wasn’t the Spaniard’s best stuff, but for his first match on cement since Australia, he’ll take it.
“I think I played a solid match. It’s true that with myself in the second set I had some troubles, but my return worked well. And it was not about the serve. It was more about the mistakes from the baseline, in my opinion,” the 3-time Canadian champ Nadal said.
“Here it’s important to be on the rhythm. It’s important to play matches. It’s not about tricks. It’s about playing well. These tournaments are so hard. Since the beginning you play against the Top 50 players. So it’s a big test from the real first round, no?… You need to be ready. And today I found a way to be through, and let’s try again tomorrow.”
And tomorrow, he’ll meet longtime rival Stan Wawrinka who had to save four match points in the final set breaker to beat Marton Fucsovics 1-6, 7-6(2), 7-6(10).
Four-time winner Novak Djokovic won his 9th straight match besting Peter Polansky 6-3, 6-4.
“I thought I served well in the moments when I really need it and I was looking for the first serve,” said Djokovic. “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.”
Djokovic will face a stern test Thursday against the 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas who picked up his second win over Dominic Thiem with a 6-3, 7-6(6) victory.
“I felt very confident from the beginning of the match. I felt like I was stronger than him today… 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,” Tsitsipas said.
No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev also advanced over Bradley Klahn. He’ll next meet Russian qualifier Daniil Medvedev who came from 4-1 down in the final set breaker to deny Canadian phenom Felix Auger-Aliassime who was celebrating his 18th birthday. Auger-Aliassime was also up a break in the third before losing 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(7).
While Auger-Aliasime fell and Milos Raonic flammed out to Frances Taifoe in three, 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov kept Canadian hopes alive coming from 4-0 down in the second to foil Fabio Fognini 6-3, 7-5.
“I think my game is at a very high level right now. You know, last week, even though I lost to Kei, it was a really good match. And I was telling everyone, I’m playing well in practice. I’m feeling really good,” Shapovalov said. “I think having my mom on the side has really helped me the last couple weeks. I’ve really picked up my game. We’ve really worked on a couple of aspects that have helped me in the last couple of weeks.”
Shapovalov now faces fellow 2017 Canadian semifinalist Robin Haase who upended Mikhail Youzhny. The Russian was a late replacement for Juan Martin del Potro who withdrew to further rest his wrist.
Big men John Isner, Kevin Anderson and Karen Khachanov were also winners.
THURSDAY TORONTO SCHEDULE
Centre Court Starts At 11:00 Am
5 Grigor Dimitrov v Frances Tiafoe
Not Before 12:30 Pm
Stefanos Tsitsipas v 9 Novak Djokovic
Not Before 2:00 Pm
(Q) Daniil Medvedev v 2 Alexander Zverev
Not Before 6:30 Pm
Robin Haase v Denis Shapovalov
Not Before 8:00 Pm
1 Rafael Nadal v (WC) Stan Wawrinka
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