TORONTO: Johanna Konta of Great Britain plays a shot against Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova.—Reuters
TORONTO: Johanna Konta of Great Britain plays a shot against Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova.—Reuters

MONTREAL: Top-seeded Rafael Nadal and second seed Roger Federer cruised to easy victories Wednesday in their opening matches at the Rogers Cup.

Nadal breezed past Borna Coric of Croatia 6-1, 6-2 to advance to the third round, while Federer routed Canadian Peter Polansky, 6-2, 6-1 in 53 minutes.

Nadal, a three-time Rogers Cup winner who will depose the absent Andy Murray as world number one if he reaches the semi-finals in Montreal this week, will next play Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov, who downed 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin De Potro 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) on a gusty Wednesday afternoon.

The 18-year-old Shapovalov became the youngest player to reach the round of 16 of a Master Series tournament since Nadal in 2004 at Miami.

Federer, a two-time Rogers Cup champion ranked third in the world, has had a surprise resurgence this season by posting his 18th and 19th career Grand Slam wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

He has lost only two of 34 matches this year, will next play Spain’s David Ferrer who prevailed in a three-setter against American Jack Sock 7-6 (9-7), 3-6, 6-1.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Fra­nce’s Gael Monfils saved four match points before digging deep to defeat Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori in an attritional three-set duel.

Monfils prevailed 6-7 (4-7), 7-5, 7-6 (8-6) to advance. He will face Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round after the Spaniard downed American Ryan Harrison 7-5, 6-2.

There was almost another French Houdini act in the evening session, when Richard Gasquet fought back from triple match point down to earn three match points in the final set of his duel with Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

Fourth-seed Zverev however fought back brilliantly to claim victory in a tiebreak, winning 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7-3).

Zverev will now face Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the last 16. Kyrgios swatted aside Victor Troicki 6-1, 6-2.

In other results, third-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria was upset 6-4, 6-7 (7-9), 7-5 by Argen­tina’s Diego Schwartzman, Canadian sixth seed Milos Raonic lost 6-4, 6-4 to Frenchman Adrian Mannarino while ninth seed David Goffin was stunned 7-5, 6-3 by South Korean Hyeon Chung.

Seventh-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov topped German Mischa Zverev 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and Robin Haase of the Netherlands defeated lucky loser Ernesto Escobedo 6-4, 6-1.

RAGGED WIN FOR PLISKOVA

In the women’s tournament in Toronto, Karolina Pliskova began her reign as world number one with a ragged 6-3, 6-3 second round win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Pliskova, playing in her first tournament since her shock second round defeat at Wimbledon, struggled with a misfiring first serve and was guilty of some lapses in concentration.

However, the lanky Czech was never seriously threatened as she disposed her 19th ranked Russian opponent in a tidy 70 minutes.

Fourth-ranked Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza also advanced with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens, second seed Simona Halep took care of surprise Wimbledon semi-finalist Magda­lena Rybarikova with a relatively straightforward 6-3, 6-4 win, while third seed German Angelique Kerber outlasted Donna Vekic 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).

American Venus Williams, playing in her first tournament since reaching the final at Wimbledon, was forced to draw on all of her vast experience before overcoming Czech youngster Katerina Sinia­kova 7-5, 7-5. The 37-year-old will next face Elina Svitolina.

Two seeded Russian players were among those to make an early exit.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, seeded eight, was the highest-profile casualty, tumbling out to Catherine Bellis of the United States 6-4, 7-5 while Elena Vesnina, the 16th seed, was sent packing 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 by Australia’s Ashleigh Barty.

But there was better news for the Russian contingent as last week’s Citi Open champion Ekaterina Maka­rova saved two match points and recovered from a set down to end seventh seed Johanna Konta’s challenge.

Konta, playing her first match since losing in the Wimbledon semi-finals last month, was beaten 5-7, 7-6(7-4), 6-3.

Other seeds to fall by the wayside on Wednesday included Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova and Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.

Fifteenth seed Sevastova crashed 6-3, 6-4 to Japan’s Naomi Osaka while Lucie Safarova accounted for 11th seed Cibulkova 6-2, 6-4.

Tenth seed Agnieszka Radw­anska cruised easily past Timea Babos 6-0, 6-1, while Petra Kvitova was eliminated by Sloane Stephens 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-2.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2017

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