| By Robbie Werdiger
Photo courtesy of USTA/Brad Penner

 

Rafa triumphs! Medvedev continues consistent play; rain devastates draw; Wawrinka vs. Dmitrov again; double faults for Zverev. Those were the headlines of the 2019 Rogers Cup, the ATP Masters 1000 event held last week in Montreal.

Six Canadians were privileged to play in front of their home crowd in the main draw, but only the nineteen-year-old sensation Felix Auger Aliassime was able to get passed the second round. Unfortunately, Auger Aliassime had to take out two fellow countrymen along the way in Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic. However, fans were not disappointed with their Canadians as wild card Peter Polanski pushed Gaël Monfils to three sets on Stadium Court in the first round, and Denis Shapovolov lost an entertaining three-setter in the second round to second-seeded Dominic Thiem after a solid first-round victory.

Early on, the spotlight was once again on Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov. The two former top ten players were pitted against one another in the first round for the third time since last year’s Wimbledon Championships, and are scheduled to play again in the first round at the Masters event in Cincinnati this week. The draw Gods just seem love these two, although Wawrinka has gotten the best of Dimitrov in all three first-round matchups.

Alexander Zverev can very well become a former top ten player, and will certainly drop out of the top ten soon if he continues playing at a sub-par level. Zverev is known to struggle at the slams but has struggled this year at all ATP levels. Much of that is due to a lack of motivation to play tennis and personal life drama, as Zverev has admitted. These factors surely have hindered Zverev’s service rhythm, as he is double-faulting with regularity. At 6’6”, you’d expect Zverev to rack up aces, but in Montreal, the young German managed to double fault twenty-seven times in just three matches.

Daniil Medvedev, on the other hand, is steamrolling through the US Open Series in pristine form. Building off a runner up finish in Washington D.C. last week, Medvedev cruised to the final without losing more than seven games in a match. The twenty-three-year-old Russian will jump to eight in the world and become the top-ranked Russian in the newest rankings, overtaking Karen Kachanov. Medvedev failed to play with confidence in the final, however, and lost a poor match to Rafael Nadal as only managed to win three games. It was a tough matchup for Medvedev, who likes to absorb the pace of his opponents and attack from the backhand wing. Rafa played consistent heavy balls, which were difficult for Medvedev to attack, especially on the forehand side. It was notable that Medvedev was not accustomed to the occasion, as he hit five double faults and missed routine balls throughout the match. Luckily, from here it can only get better for Medvedev in Masters’ finals.

Rafael Nadal rose to the occasion as he often does and played a flawless final en route to his record 35th Masters 1000 championship. The King of Clay took advantage of the fact that Federer and Djokovic were not in the draw, and showed the tennis world that he can still pose a threat on hard courts. Rafa was fresh for the final, not having to play a semifinal match.

Bad weather, a tournament director’s worst nightmare, greatly altered the schedule of play Friday. Gael Monfils’ quarterfinal match began on Friday but was postponed to Saturday due to rain. Monfils was gassed after edging Bautista Agut 7-6 in the third set Saturday afternoon, and withdrew in the semis, knowing he would not have the energy to play the Spanish grinder in only a few hours turnaround Saturday evening.

Despite a solid victory, Nadal showed vulnerability at times, looking slow and bulky at certain stages of the tournament. He fought to save set points versus Daniel Evans in his opening round and lost the first set in the quarterfinals to Fabio Fognini. It is going to be a tough task for Nadal to win the US Open considering his body will have to hold up on the hard court for seven matches after a long clay and grass season. We will get a look at Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer this week as the US Open Series heads to Cincinnati for the last outdoor hard masters event of the year. Nadal has withdrawn from the tournament to get some rest, but it still looks like Djokovic will be the clear favorite in New York.

 

Robbie Werdiger

Robbie Werdiger is a rising senior at Horace Mann School in New York City. As a captain on his high school tennis team, Robbie has received team MVP and has been awarded the First Team all Ivy award two times at the first and second singles positions. Individually, Robbie has competed on the national junior stage and has achieved USTA rankings of top 25 in the eastern section in numerous age groups. Additionally, Robbie has represented team USA at the world Maccabiah Games in Israel in 2017, the third largest international sporting event in the world.