#NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas produced a stunning comeback on Friday, saving two match points to upset defending champion Alexander Zverev 3-6, 7-6(11), 6-4 at the Rogers Cup.
The 19-year-old hit 28 winners, including 18 on his forehand side, to stun the second seed after two hours and 27 minutes. Tsitsipas becomes the youngest player since Rafael Nadal in 2006 (Monte-Carlo) to conquer three Top 10 opponents in a single tournament.
Tsitsipas will face Kevin Anderson for a place in Sunday’s final. Anderson defeated reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 to reach his maiden semi-final at the event.
Friday Preview: Nadal Leads Five Of Top 10 In Toronto QFs
Tsitsipas, Khachanov contest first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-finals
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal continues his bid for a fourth Rogers Cup crown on Friday, with Nitto ATP Finals qualification on the line in the Toronto quarter-finals, which features five of the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings. At one end of the spectrum, Spanish superstar Nadal appears in his 86th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final (66-19), while Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov of Russia contest their first on the hard courts of Toronto.
View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the Rogers Cup & vote for who you think will win! Nadal vs Cilic | Zverev vs Tsitsipas | Anderson vs Dimitrov | Haase vs Khachanov
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Nadal, who beat former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka on Thursday night, is set for another blockbuster against World No. 7 Marin Cilic during the night session and victory would see him become the first singles player to clinch a spot at the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. Aiming to capture a record 33rd Masters 1000 crown (and third of 2018), Nadal won the Canadian crown in 2005 (d. Agassi), 2008 (d. Kiefer) and 2013 (d. Raonic).
Cilic, who is through to the Rogers Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2008, was leading Nadal in their Australian Open quarter-final in January, when his opponent retired due to a right hip injury. The 32-year-old Nadal, who leads Cilic 5-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (4-2 on hard courts), is seeking his eighth Masters 1000 hard-court title and first since winning the BNP Paribas Open, Montreal and the Western & Southern Open in 2013.
Tsitsipas could become the youngest player to post three Top 10 wins at a single tournament since Nadal, then 19, in April 2006 at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters should the 19-year-old #NextGenATP star beat defending champion Alexander Zverev. The Greek has also knocked out Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic this week, while Zverev needs to lift his fourth Masters 1000 crown in order to hold off Juan Martin del Potro and remain at No. 3 in the ATP Rankings on 13 August. Six days ago, Zverev beat Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4 in the Citi Open semi-finals in Washington, D.C.
World No. 5 Grigor Dimitrov, a few days shy of attempting to retain the Cincinnati crown (d. Kyrgios), has won seven of his past nine matches against Top 10 opponents and looks to be returning to top form ahead of his match-up against No. 6-ranked Kevin Anderson, the recent Wimbledon finalist. Anderson is 1-10 in Masters 1000 quarter-finals, having reached the last four at the Mutua Madrid Open in May, but Dimitrov leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-1 (3-1 on hard courts).
Dutchman Robin Haase, who is playing some of the best tennis of his career at the age of 31, looks to reach the Toronto semi-finals for the second consecutive year (2017, l. to Federer) with victory over Khachanov, who has held serve this week in 31 of his 32 service games, including victories over No. 12 seed Pablo Carreno Busta and eighth seed John Isner. One place in the ATP Rankings separates No. 38-ranked Khachanov from Haase (No. 39) ahead of their first-time meeting.
Nadal improves to 17-3 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Wawrinka, next faces Cilic
Let us get the facts out of the way: World No. 1 Rafael Nadal withstood some of the best tennis Stan Wawrinka has played in months to reach the Rogers Cup quarter-finals 7-5, 7-6(4) on Thursday evening in Toronto.
The Spaniard advanced to his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final of the season, and his first on hard courts. He will next face sixth seed Marin Cilic, who beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-2 earlier Wednesday. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-2, but Cilic won their last contest in the Australian Open quarter-finals.
Watch Hot Shot: Nadal’s Super Slice Sets Up Set Point
But what the Nadal-Wawrinka scoreline only alludes to is that former World No. 3 Wawrinka played the best match of his comeback, the type of tennis, in spurts on Thursday night, that saw the Swiss win an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and three Grand Slams before he required two knee surgeries a year ago.
Wawrinka was striking dazzling one-handed backhands, the type that look as if his opponent will have a chance at them until they gradually fade farther right and farther right, away from the opponent, who can only gaze at the bouncing ball. He brought the power, too, rejecting Nadal’s attempts to pick on his one-handed backhand with missiles up the line.
The World No. 1, however, the all-time Masters 1000 titles leader (32), was in one those opportune moods where he finds every angle and tracks down every ball, leaving the crowd – and the guy across the net – gasping.
“It was a good match. Of course, a very positive victory for me against a very tough opponent. Happy to see Stan playing that well again,” Nadal said. “So I am very pleased. That’s what I needed, a match like this to be a little bit more confident and I did it.”
Nadal escaped a 0/40 deficit at 4-4 when Wawrinka dumped a backhand into the net on his final opportunity. The two were delayed 46 minutes at 6-5, and after the wait, Nadal broke for the set.
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To start the second, Wawrinka fell behind 0-2 and looked in danger of fading away. The Swiss reached the third round in Canada by winning back-to-back matches for only the second time this season.
But his trademark one-hander – the logo on his practice shirts – brought him back into it as he broke with a laser up the line, the start of four straight games that carried him to 5-4 in the second set.
Nadal, though, as he has nearly every time they’ve played, had a response – this time it was a mix of defence and power, finished off with a forehand pass that left the World No. 1 jumping and pumping his fists in celebration.
Nadal had broken for 5-5, and two games and a tie-break later, his 17th FedEx ATP Head2Head victory against Wawrinka (17-3), and another Masters 1000 quarter-final, would be his. Rafa advanced, but Stan made his return.
Did You Know? Nadal doubled as a “court cleaner” during his third-round match against Wawrinka as well.
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