Medvedev stuns Thiem, Nadal survives scare

August 11, 2019

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MONTREAL: Dominic Thiem of Austria returns a shot against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev during their quarter-final at the Rogers Cup.—Reuters
MONTREAL: Dominic Thiem of Austria returns a shot against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev during their quarter-final at the Rogers Cup.—Reuters

MONTREAL: Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov crushed second seed Dominic Thiem and third seed Alexander Zverev respectively to set up an all-Russian semi-final at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Friday.

Later in the day, top seed Rafa Nadal overcame a sluggish start to defeat Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-1, 6-2 to keep his title defence alive.

Nadal won’t know who he’ll play for a place in the final until Saturday, when Gael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut return to complete a rain delayed match.

Steady rain began as Monfils and Bautista took the court and they were unable to complete a game before play was suspended for the night.

The French-speaking Medvedev was cheered on by a partisan crowd and finished off a tired-looking Thiem 6-3, 6-1 to end the Austrian’s six-match winning streak in under an hour.

So dominant was the tall Russian that he took the first five games of the second set while winning 16 of the first 17 points.

He missed a chance to close out the match on Thiem’s serve at 5-0 before sealing victory with an ace, his sixth of the day.

Medvedev said he was as surprised as anyone to have defeated world number four Thiem in such dominant fashion.

“I was expecting a tougher match,” he said. “I was happy that I was able to play so well, to beat him so easily. It saved me a lot of energy. It gave me a lot of confidence so I’m very happy.”

Khachanov had little more problem with German Zverev, rattling through their quarter-final 6-3, 6-3 in 74 minutes.

Zverev suffered the first blemish on what had been a perfect 7-0 record in Montreal after winning the 2017 edition in his maiden visit to the city, which alternates with Toronto as host venue each year.

Nadal initially had a more tricky time in his quarter-final against Fognini, struggling with his serving accuracy in a first set where the Italian broke him twice.

But Nadal broke to love in the second game of the second set on a double fault by Fognini, who appeared to be bothered by right ankle soreness as the nearly two-hour match wore on.

Nadal broke serve to start the deciding set and never looked back as he took a measure of revenge against Fognini, who defeated Nadal in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters in April.

SERENA TAMES OSAKA IN TORONTO

Serena Williams moved into the women’s Rogers Cup semi-finals in Toronto on Friday with a maiden career victory over Naomi Osaka in their first meeting since the American’s infamous row with an umpire overshadowed last year’s US Open final.

The 6-3, 6-4 loss continued a run of poor form for Osaka but there was some good news later in the day when Karolina Pliskova lost to ensure the U.S and Australian Open champion would replace Ash Barty as world number one next week.

Williams will next face qualifier Marie Bouzkova, who advanced when Wimbledon champion and holder Simona Halep retired from their match with a left Achilles problem after dropping the first set 6-4.

There was no doubt about what was the big match of the day at the third oldest tournament in tennis.

Unlike at Flushing Meadows last year, where Osaka won her first Grand Slam title, there were no fiery exchanges with the umpire, no smashed rackets, no point or game penalties — just a rock-solid performance from Williams.

The 37-year-old is looking to shore up her hardcourt game for the Aug 26-Sept 8 US Open where she will chase a record-tying 24th career Grand Slam title.

Williams had slow starts in her previous two outings this week but came out much stronger for this one and delivered a serving masterclass that denied Osaka any break point opportunities.

There was a scary moment in the second set when the American ran into the net post while trying to chase down an Osaka drop shot but, despite nursing her right arm, Williams confirmed that no serious damage had been done.

Czech 21-year-old Bouzkova’s breakout run in Toronto will carry into the weekend after Halep, who had been complaining about her Achilles all week, retired from their match.

Bouzkova notched her third straight win over a Grand Slam champion, having beaten former US Open winner Sloane Stephens and former French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko.

In earlier quarter-final action, Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu played through leg pain to keep her dream run alive with a 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 upset of Czech Pliskova.

Andreescu looked to be in trouble when she gingerly returned to the court from a medical timeout late in the second set with her right thigh heavily taped and her movement hampered.

But the 19-year-old, who shot to prominence with her Indian Wells triumph in March, went toe-to-toe with her more experienced opponent to win by serving out to love.

Up next for Andreescu will be unseeded American Sofia Kenin, who extended her impressive Toronto run with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 win over Ukrainian former champion Elina Svitolina.

Despite the defeat, Osaka is assured of a return to world No.1 on Monday after the second-round exit of top-ranked Australian Ashleigh Barty and a quarter-final defeat for third-ranked Czech Karolina Pliskova.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2019