Khachanov Spoils Felix’s Birthday Party In Montreal
Russian to face Zverev for place in SF
Karen Khachanov played the spoiler on Thursday, beating home favourite and birthday boy Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(7), 7-5, 6-3 to make his fourth ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal.
The World No. 8 was broken while serving for the second set at 5-3 but regrouped to break Auger-Aliassime in a set that featured six breaks of serve. There were 12 in total for the match.
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The raucous crowd was trying to will the 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime to his second Masters 1000 quarter-final (Miami 2019), chanting “Let’s go, Felix!” throughout the match.
But Khachanov, at age 23, four years Auger-Aliassime’s senior, was the more composed of the two in the decider, commanding play from the baseline and benefitting from some nervy play on Auger-Aliassime’s side.
“Honestly, it was a roller coaster today. Not many matches have been played like that,” Khachanov said. “Today was tough conditions, really windy. I think both of us were struggling to take our serves, which are pretty powerful normally. I just had to win playing a little bit ugly.”
The Canadian had a late opening as Khachanov served at 0/30, 5-3, but the Russian again settled his nerves, ending the match with four straight points. The 19-year-old Auger-Aliassime committed 12 double faults, compared to 10 aces, for the match.
“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 made his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros in June and is through to his first Masters 1000 quarter-final since March at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (l. to Nadal). But the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier has taken a liking to Canada in past years, making the semi-finals in Toronto last year, before losing to eventual champion Rafael Nadal.
The Russian won’t have to face Nadal until the final, but third seed Alexander Zverev will have plenty to say about Khachanov reaching the semi-finals. The 2017 champion beat Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(5) to make his second Masters 1000 quarter-final of the season (Madrid).
“Once you’re in the quarter-finals,” Khachanov said, “you just have to step up and believe more in yourself and take opportunities if you have them.”
Thiem Survives Cilic In Montreal To Extend Winning Streak
Austrian saves all nine break points
It wasn’t easy but fleet of foot, caressed groundstroke winners at close quarters and match sharpness proved to be the difference for Dominic Thiem on Thursday when he negotiated a tough test against Marin Cilic at the Coupe Rogers.
Thiem stared down all nine break points he faced — four at 3-3 in the first set and five in the second set at 0-1 (three) and 5-4 (two) — to win 7-6(7), 6-4 over one hour and 53 minutes for a place in the third round.
Clever changes of pace and aggressive ball-striking from Cilic kept Thiem on his toes, but in the first set tie-break featuring two momentum shifts, it was the Austrian’s consistency that was decisive.
Having recovered from 15/40 in his first service game of the second set, Thiem pounced with terrific length on his groundstroke returns and broke for a 2-1 advantage with a fine cross-court forehand winner in the service that left Cilic flat-footed at the net. Later, at 5-4, he weathered another storm from 15/40 and closed out his 31st win of 2019 on his fourth match point.
Second seed Thiem, who had gone 0-5 in previous appearances at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Canada, is building up a head of steam ahead of his quarter-final against eighth-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev, who knocked out Cristian Garin of Chile 6-3, 6-3 in 70 minutes. Both Thiem and Medvedev are bidding to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. Thiem leads 2-0 in their FedEx ATPHead2Head series.
The 25-year-old Thiem is now six matches unbeaten, which includes his 14th ATP Tour title last week at the Generali Open in Kitzbuhel (d. Ramos-Vinolas). In March, soon after beginning his partnership with coach Nicolas Massu, Thiem captured his first Masters 1000 crown at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (d. Federer).
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Cilic, the No. 14 seed, who has recently begun working with former World No. 6 Wayne Ferreira, continues to rebuild his confidence after a right injury earlier in the season and is 15-12 overall this year.
How Johansson Proved He Was ‘On The Right Track’ With 1999 Montreal Title
Swede won lone ATP Masters 1000 title here 20 years ago
Swede Thomas Johansson last competed on the ATP Tour more than a decade ago. But nearly every day since arriving at the Coupe Rogers, where he is coaching Belgian David Goffin, fans have approached the former World No. 7. The reason why: 20 years ago Thursday, Johansson lifted his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Montreal.
“It’s one of the few places that when you walk around, people actually come up to me and say, ‘I remember the final. I remember that you won here in ‘99.’ Every time I come to Montreal, I almost feel like I’m at home,” Johansson told ATPTour.com. “It’s a lot of fun because some people, they remember the matches, they don’t remember just the final. I played two Canadians here that year and the atmopshere was amazing.
“I always loved to go out on a big stadium with a lot of people, especially that year. I played Simon Larose in the first round during a night session with a lot of people and then I played Sebastien Lareau with also a lot of people. That is what you practise for. You practise for going out on big courts, playing big matches against big players, so that’s what you train for each and every day.”
Before the event, Johansson had never advanced past the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 tournament. But he defeated former World No. 1s Jim Courier and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, while coming back from a set down in both the semi-finals against Nicolas Kiefer and the championship match against Kafelnikov, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July.
“I was only 24 years old, so for me it was a huge title,” Johansson said. “All of the best players in the world were here. That was like an approval that if I played my best tennis, I could compete with the best players in the world. So that was a sign that I was on the right track.
“I felt that I belonged, but I also felt that beating Kafelnikov and also beating Jim Courier, to beat those two big champions was just amazing.”
Listen To ATP Tennis Radio’s Interview With Johansson:
Entering the final, then-World No. 22 Johansson trailed World No. 4 Kafelnikov 3-4 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, and he dropped the opening set 1-6. But Johansson stormed back to win the match — and what was his biggest title at the time — and he would ultimately claim nine of the 14 matches in their rivalry.
“I didn’t feel a lot of pressure because I felt that I was the underdog. He was the favourite by far,” Johansson said. “I knew going into that match that it was going to be a battle. But I managed to play really, really well. I think I played my best match of the tournament in the final.”
The big-serving Johansson would go on to win the 2002 Australian Open, but his Montreal triumph remains one of the biggest moments of his career, making his trips to Canada more special, even 20 years on.
“It sounds like I’m very old,” Johansson joked.
Whether that’s true or not, he provided memories in Canada that Montreal fans have not forgotten.
The ATP has announced that the following players have been elected to the ATP Player Council:
•1-50 Singles: Rafael Nadal •1-100 Doubles: Jurgen Melzer •At Large: Roger Federer
Nadal, Melzer, and Federer were elected by the existing members of the Player Council to fill the roles vacated following the resignations of Robin Haase, Jamie Murray, and Sergiy Stakhovsky prior to Wimbledon. They will begin their roles with immediate effect and will serve until the end of the existing term which runs through to Wimbledon 2020. The position of Coach representative, following the resignation of Daniel Vallverdu, is to be determined in due course.
The next Player Council meeting is scheduled in New York prior to the US Open. The ATP Player Council is comprised of the following:
•1-50 Singles: Kevin Anderson (VP), John Isner, Rafael Nadal, Sam Querrey
•51-100 Singles: Yen-Hsun Lu, Vasek Pospisil
•1-100 Doubles: Jurgen Melzer, Bruno Soares
•At Large: Novak Djokovic (P), Roger Federer
•Alumni: Colin Dowdeswell
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Spaniard is at a career-high No. 13 in the ATP Rankings
Roberto Bautista Agut grew up watching the likes of Juan Carlos Ferrero, Sergi Bruguera and Carlos Moya. All three were Spanish Grand Slam champions. They were role models for Bautista Agut to look up to, a benchmark to strive towards.
“I wanted to be one of the best players in the Spanish history,” Bautista Agut told ATPTour.com.
Rafael Nadal, who is two years older than him, has become one of the best players in history, and the likes of Fernando Verdasco, Feliciano Lopez, Pablo Carreno Busta, Tommy Robredo and the recently-retired David Ferrer have made waves of their own in the sport. But 2019 has been the year that Bautista Agut has soared to new heights, currently at a career-high No. 13 in the ATP Rankings.
“At the beginning I thought I could make it,” Bautista Agut said of the start of his career. “Then I passed through very difficult moments. But the good thing is that I am here, I am healthy, I am enjoying my career and I keep improving.”
On 21 May 2018, Bautista Agut’s mother passed away, and groin and abdomen injuries hindered the middle of his 2018 season. But the nine-time ATP Tour titlist has found some of the best form of his career in 2019. Bautista Agut advanced to his first Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, pushing World No. 1 and eventual champion Novak Djokovic to four sets before succumbing.
In the bigger picture, that effort propelled Bautista Agut into the thick of the ATP Race To London, as the veteran seeks to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. In 2016, he finished 14th in the Race, serving as an alternate. But he entered this week’s Coupe Rogers in eighth place, in strong position to make a run at playing in The O2.
“It would be good news for me to have the opportunity to play the [year-end] Masters,” Bautista Agut said of competing in London. “But now, it’s still far. It’s still three months or four months of the season and I have to win a lot of matches and to play very good tennis if I want to be there.”
Taking it one step at a time is how Bautista Agut has put himself in this position in the first place. The Spaniard does not feel he’s made a massive change to his game that has set him on this upwards trajectory. Instead, he has steadily worked on various facets of his tennis.
“The good thing is that I keep improving. I keep working hard and I feel that I am a better player every year, which is the most important thing to move up in the [ATP] Rankings,” Bautista Agut said. “I’m trying to keep doing everything similarly, everything I’ve been doing from the beginning of the season until now. I will try to keep the same things.”
To Nadal, Bautista Agut’s performance this season and his standing in the Race is not a surprise, given his consistency over the years. Bautista Agut has finished inside the year-end Top 25 in the ATP Rankings each year since 2014.
“He’s a great player. He has been a great player for a very long time already,” Nadal told ATPTour.com during a press conference. “This year the big improvement is he made the semi-finals of Wimbledon.
“When you are in that [ATP] Ranking, Roberto has been in a very high position in the Rankings for a very long time, the difference being Top 10 or being [No.] 16 is being in the right moment in the right time. He has been there in Wimbledon, winning a couple of matches. [It has] been a lot of points for him. He is a very [consistent] player, very stable player, very strong mentally.”
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According to Ferrero, Bautista Agut’s idol, that may be the part of his game that he has improved the most. About a decade ago, Bautista Agut went to practise at the former World No. 1’s academy, doing pre-season preparation in December for two or three years in a row.
“At that time, he wasn’t as good of a player as he is right now because he was like 200 or 150 in the [ATP] Rankings. I thought that he would play a bit better on hard courts than clay courts because of his kind of shots, his forehand and backhand,” Ferrero told ATPTour.com. “But I was thinking that he could improve his way of working, his attitude on the court and physically he could be the player he is right now.”
Before this season, Bautista Agut held a 7-46 record against opponents inside the world’s Top 10. But this year, he has gone 4-4 against the elite group, handing World No. 1 Novak Djokovic two of his six losses. The No. 10 seed at this week’s Coupe Rogers has risen to the occasion against the best in the sport with no apprehension.
“That’s why we practise a lot. That’s why as a kid you dream to play on these courts, big matches,” Bautista Agut said. “With experience now, I can enjoy more those moments and I know how to manage all the difficult emotions during those situations.”
To Ferrero, that is what Bautista Agut has improved the most. The 16-time tour-level champion thinks that goes back to the 2016 Rolex Shanghai Masters, where the then-World No. 19 did not drop a set en route to the final, including a semi-final triumph against Djokovic.
“I think he improved very much his mentality, the way he faces the moments, to go and play the best players in the world on the court,” Ferrero said. “I think what he improved the most is his mentality facing the problems and how he manages the important moments on the court.”
On Wednesday, Bautista Agut was down a break late in the second set of his second-round match in Montreal, with Diego Schwartzman serving to force a decider. But the Spaniard remained calm, and simply kept going about his business and doing what he’s been doing a lot of in 2019: winning.
“I really believe if he stays relaxed like he is, he going to have a good chance to be in the World Tour Finals,” Nadal said. “He’s one of the most stable players on Tour.”
Did You Know? With Kei Nishikori’s loss against Richard Gasquet on Wednesday, Bautista Agut can move into seventh place in the Race with a victory against Gasquet Thursday. If Daniil Medvedev loses to Cristian Garin in the Round of 16 in Montreal, a Bautista Agut victory would propel him into sixth.
The Frenchman will face Bautista Agut in the third round of the Coupe Rogers
It has not been the easiest season for former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet. Most people are used to watching the Frenchman use the tennis court as his canvas, painting magical strokes off both wings from the baseline, especially with his elegant one-handed backhand. But it’s difficult to do that when you’re recovering from an injury.
On 18 January, Gasquet was forced to undergo groin surgery, an operation that kept him out for six months. It’s not the first time the Frenchman has struggled with his body, needing to withdraw from the first five ATP Masters 1000 tournaments of 2017. But this time, Gasquet was out for a significant period of time, causing his ATP Ranking to last month drop outside the Top 50 for the first time since May 2010.
For players who have achieved what Gasquet has — winning more than 500 tour-level matches in his career, cracking the Top 10, and more — it may be difficult to find the motivation to work back towards the top again. But not for Gasquet.
“You have no choice. I like to play tennis. I enjoy it a lot,” Gasquet told ATPTour.com. “Of course surgery was tough, especially after that to recover was very difficult. But I still like tennis, I still like to travel and play on great courts. I’m 33, I don’t have so many years to play now, so I have to enjoy it.”
Gasquet made his return at the Mutua Madrid Open in May, but his best result since was making the Libema Open semi-finals. He knew that it would take time to work back into form, though.
“I stopped for a long time, six months. It was very difficult, I know this. But after surgery, physically you need to build day after day,” Gasquet said. “But I’m feeling better, I played in July on clay. So physically, I’m better. I won on Monday against Paire. It was a good match, so that’s why I felt more confident after that and of course I played a great match today.”
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Gasquet needed all the energy and form he could find to upset fifth seed Kei Nishikori 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4) on Wednesday at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal, overcoming a tough opponent, as well as himself. It seemed that everything that could go wrong towards the end of the match was going wrong.
The Frenchman served at 5-4 in the third set for a victory against Nishikori. In the next game, on the Japanese superstar’s serve, Gasquet could not convert any of the three break chances he earned. At 5-6, the 33-year-old made some mistakes to let slip a 0/40 lead, needing a big serve out wide to save a match point. Then in the tie-break, he gave up a double mini-break advantage.
But finally, after three hours and nine minutes, the one thing that the 15-time ATP Tour titlist needed to go right went perfectly: Gasquet won, blasting his one-handed backhand down the line for a winner and throwing his fist in the air in celebration.
“It was a crazy match, of course, especially when I was winning 5-4 with the break and I couldn’t serve it out, he played well. It was tough,” Gasquet said. “It was really, really close, especially in the tie-break. But I’m very happy with the way I fought, with the way physically I played. So it was a great victory. Kei is one of the best players in the world, so of course it’s huge for me to win.”
If there was any player Gasquet would flounder against in a decider, it would be Nishikori, who is the Open Era leader in final sets won at 74.6 per cent entering this week. But the World No. 66 is not ready to stop building on his game.
“I think I can still improve. But today was the first match I felt good on the court [since my surgery]. That’s why I could win,” Gasquet said. “To beat Kei you need to play great tennis and I did it. Of course I hope to recover now. The day after it will be tough, but I’ll try my best.”
The climb won’t be easy for Gasquet, nor will his next opponent, Roberto Bautista Agut. But the player with 33 Top 100 triumphs will hope for another energetic crowd in Montreal for his third-round match.
“It’s a great feeling that you can still play well and to come battle, fight with these kinds of players. That’s why I’m still practising, it’s still a game for me,” Gasquet said. “It’s difficult, very demanding, but I still like it.”
Serena Williams eased into the third round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto with a straight-set victory over Belgium’s Elise Mertens.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion, 37, won 6-3 6-3 to set up a tie with Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova.
“I’m loving going out there,” said American three-time winner Williams.
Elsewhere, Japan’s Naomi Osaka moved a step closer to regaining her world number one ranking after her opponent Tatjana Maria retired at 6-2 down.
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Ashleigh Barty’s second-round defeat saw her surrender her eight-week reign as world number one, with Karolina Pliskova also in the running to take over at the top.
Czech third seed Pliskova beat American Alison Riske 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 to set up a meeting with Anett Kontaveit in the next round.
Elsewhere, defending champion and fourth seed Simona Halep beat American Jennifer Brady 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7-5) while sixth seed Elina Svitolina – winner in 2017 – defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-3 3-6 6-3.
Belinda Bencic – champion in 2015 – beat Julia Goerges in straight sets but there were defeats for Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.
Williams dominates after steady start
Eighth seed Williams – playing in her first match since losing the Wimbledon final – last won the title in 2013 and is using this year’s tournament as a warm-up for the US Open, which starts on 26 August, where she will go for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.
After a slow start, in which Mertens went an early break up, world number 10 Williams fought back to win five consecutive games before serving out the opening set.
In the second set, 23-year-old Mertens broke Williams’ serve at the first opportunity but Williams quickly responded and went a double break up.
She sealed the match on break point with world number 20 Mertens having made eight double faults and 19 unforced errors in the match.
“I feel like my movement is great,” said Williams. “[I’ve] been working on my fitness, so I felt like it really was able to shine through.”
Her third-round meeting with Alexandrova – who beat China’s Zhang Shuai 6-4 6-3 – will be her first against the Russian qualifier.
As Roger Federer today celebrates his 38th birthday, the Swiss great is still going strong and is set to return at next week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where he is a seven-time champion.
At an age when professionals are calling time on their global adventures, World No. 3 Federer continues to excel in 2019 with a 38-5 record and three trophies. He has lifted silverware at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Tsitsipas), which marked the 100th title of his illustrious career; his 28th ATP Masters 1000 crown at the Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Isner) and a 10th Noventi Open (d. Goffin). He reached his 12th Wimbledon final (l. to Djokovic) and finished runner-up at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (l. to Thiem).
In his 22nd season as a pro, and with 102 titles and 1,222 match wins, Federer is also closing in on Jimmy Connors’ all-time records of 109 crowns and 1,274 victories.
Federer isn’t the only ATP Tour star celebrating a birthday on 8 August. Canadian #NextGenATP star Felix Auger-Aliassime turns 20 today and plays sixth-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal.
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Djokovic, Nadal, Federer To Reunite In Cincinnati; When Is The Draw & More
All about the ATP Masters 1000 tennis tournament in Cincinnati
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer make their return to action at the Western & Southern Open for the first time since their historic clash in the Wimbledon championship match. (Read More) Rafael Nadal, who is looking to win a 35th ATP Masters 1000 title this week at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal, will be the second seed in Cincinnati.
Last year at the Western & Southern Open, Djokovic celebrated a historic achievement as he became the first player to complete the Career Golden Masters. After five runner-up finishes in Cincinnati, he finally claimed the one title missing from his Masters 1000 set with victory over Federer in the final.
While Djokovic and Nadal will each attempt to win Cincinnati for a second time, Federer will be going for a record-extending eighth title at his most successful Masters 1000 tournament. He triumphed in 2005, 2007, 2009-10, 2012, and 2014-15.
BNP Paribas Open champion Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kei Nishikori, Alexander Zverev and Karen Khachanov round out the top eight seeds. John Isner, who finished runner-up to Nadal in 2013, will lead the American charge.
Here’s all you need to know about the Cincinnati tennis tournament: what is the schedule, where to watch, who has won and more.
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Tournament Dates: 11-18 August 2019
Tournament Director: Andre Silva
Draw Ceremony: Friday, 9 August at 6:30pm
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Schedule (View On Official Website) * Qualifying: Saturday and Sunday at 10:00am * Main draw: Sunday not before 2:00pm and 7:00pm, Monday – Friday at 11:00am and 7:00pm, * Semi-finals: Saturday, 17 August, doubles at 1:00pm, singles not before 1:00pm and 6:00 pm * Doubles final: Sunday, 18 August at 12:15pm * Singles final: Sunday, 18 August not before 4:00pm
How To Watch Watch Live On Tennis TV TV Schedule
Venue: Lindner Family Tennis Center Main Court Seating: 11,614
View Who Is Playing, Past Champions, Seeds, Points & Prize Money Breakdown
Honour Roll (Open Era) Most Titles, Singles: Roger Federer (7) Most Titles, Doubles: Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Daniel Nestor (5) Oldest Champion: Ken Rosewall, 35, in 1970 Youngest Champion: Boris Becker, 17, in 1985 Lowest-Ranked Champion (since 1979): No. 23 Peter Fleming in 1979 Most Match Wins: Roger Federer (46)
2018 Finals Singles:  Novak Djokovic (SRB) d  Roger Federer (SUI) 64 64 Read & Watch Doubles:  Jamie Murray (GBR) / Bruno Soares (BRA) d  Juan Sebastian Cabal (COL) / Robert Farah (COL) 46 63 10-6 Read More
Social Hashtag: #CincyTennis Facebook: @cincytennis Twitter: @CincyTennis Instagram: @cincytennis
Did You Know… The Cincinnati tournament has come a long way from its humble roots, first played at the Avondale Athletic Club more than a century ago, to the grand-scale ATP Masters 1000 event held at the Lindner Family Tennis Center today. Past champions include such all-time greats as Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic..