Rafael Nadal upped his Canadian win streak to seven Thursday night cruising past Guido Pella 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals in Montreal.
“A tough day in terms of wind. But we are used to playing like this. When we play on outdoor courts, that’s part of the game, too. Of course it is better to play without this kind of wind,” Nadal said.
“At the same time, it is beautiful to play under tough conditions because then the player who has different options to play has better chances to survive these kind of days.
“It’s about adapting and being focused mentally. Of course, I prefer to play without these conditions, but in some way I enjoy.”
The win also put him past Roger Federer for the most career Masters match wins at 378. He’ll now meet Fabio Fognini who upended Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 7-5.
“He’s having a great season, one of the best of his career, if not the best,” Nadal said. “I need to be playing well. I think today I played better than yesterday, so I hope tomorrow I continue with this improvement. That’s what I need if I want to keep having chances to be through.”
Nadal has won 11 of 15 against the Italian. But Fognini just beat him in Monte Carlo in April.
Joining Nadal in the quarterfinals was another former champion, Alexander Zverev. The German was out for revenge on Nikolaz Basilashvili who beat him on his home soil last month in Hamburg. But despite 14 double faults and some erratic play, Zverev got back on top of the Georgian 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(5).
Zverev will have to tighten up his game in the next round against the powerful Karen Khachanov. The big Russian blew a first set lead but came back on home favorite Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(7), 7-5, 6-3.
Celebrating his 19th birthday, Auger-Aliassime also couldn’t control his serve mixing in 12 double faults and a slew of errors to aid the World No. 8 to his second straight Canadian quarterfinal.
“I have to stay proud of what I’ve done. For sure I’m frustrated because it was a big occasion. There was a lot of expectations, pressure, you name it. I think I handled that well,” Auger-Aliassime said. “But to be playing good and to lead in a match, to have a chance to win.
“It’s tough to see it slip away, but there’s a reason for that. It just means that I still have things to improve to win these types of matches and to deal better with these types of moments.”
Khachanov beat Zverev en route to his big Paris title at the end of last year.
“Once you’re in the quarterfinals,” Khachanov said. “You just have to step up and believe more in yourself and take opportunities if you have them.”
Dominic Theim continued to find his footing in Canada winning a tough first set then hanging on to beat Marin Cilic 7-6(7), 6-4.
“I’ve really had a great transition from good confidence in the European summer,” said Thiem who won on clay Sunday in Kitzbuhel. “That’s also my first quarterfinals here. The match today was unreal because I saved nine out of nine break points, which doesn’t happen that often.”
He’ll now face Daniil Medvedev who coasted past Christian Garin 6-3, 6-3. Both Thiem and Medvedev are searching for their first Canadian semifinal. The Austrian has taken both meetings.
“It’s going to be a very difficult match like the last two times… I know he’s in good shape right now. When he plays like this, he’s difficult to beat,” Medvedev said. “So I’ll consider this match as a test. Am I able to beat players that are in good shape like he is right now and like him? That will be a good test.”
In the other quarterfinal, Roberto Bautista Agut will clash with Gael Monfils.
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