Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime were the biggest winners on Day 2 in Toronto.
Sure Stan came back to beat Kyrgios after looking dead in the first set and to make me taste crow, but Kyrgios’ injury and tanking history had probably as much to do with that win as anything. Is Stan finding form? We’ll see.
Nishikori also looks like he’s requesting a little break though Haase is certainly capable of providing the exit. Given the rigors of the tour and the pattern being set by guys missing tournaments due to rest or injury, you’ll see a bit of this over the next couple of weeks as the hard courts rear their ruthless tennis regimen, to go along with the heat and humidity.
Rublev faded as well against his countryman Donskoy; watching the older Russian get the upper hand in that first set TB looked like the Washington D.C. SF all over again as Rublev couldn’t quite close-out de Minaur — the younger Russian, in both cases, lost his mettle, his ability to sustain. He’ll be ready for NYC, but that BL fetish certainly takes its toll. Be advised, youth.
Cilic continued his advantage over Coric though that was a fairly tight match (tough draw for the younger Croat who still has an Indian Wells-like run in him this year — he’s too good, too determined).
Tsitsipas continued his winning ways and sets-up a match today against Thiem. Thiem wins today mainly because the Greek is running a bit on fumes. More to the point, the Austrian needs to step forward now, get some hard court matches under his belt and prepare for a little run at the Open this year (building-on last year’s results — should have closed-out DelPo in that 4R five-setter to set-up a final eight appearance against a fading Federer).
But still, nice to see Stefanos continue to win. Thiem definitely has his hands-full potentially but I suspect a Thiem victory nonetheless.
Fognini continues his hot hand. There’s an outside chance he makes London this year; when this guy is rolling, he’s difficult for anyone (as a lot of these players are). Great to see some players like Foghat heating-up or staying hot.
Djokovic looked untroubled but not very clean v the lucky loser Basic. Basic can actually hit the ball to both side of the court, move pretty well, etc. But Novak looked less than inspired. This is typical Novak, certainly a player that rises to the occasion, i.e., the bigger match against the bigger opponent. Odd seeing Chung pull-out late, but Novak was advancing either way. More on this vulnerable tennis from Novak especially if it continues.
The young Canadians, Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime, continue to provide hope regarding this younger generation of players. Counter to the likes of Dimitrov, Raonic, Nishikori, Goffin, et al., this younger tennis movement suggests, led by 21 year-old Sascha and including a host of teenagers like Tsitsipas (19), Shapovalov (19) and Auger-Aliassime (18 years old today), not to mention de Minaur (19), we have ourselves a few candidates.
Shapovalov’s dismantling of Chardy was a good watch. His FH continues to be a large weapon, and that BH (very cool that two of these youngsters play with the classic OHBH) continues to trouble opponents when he’s offensive and his timing is on. Denis has a big game (power) to go with his eagerness to find those winning points, those brighter lights, etc. This is the most inspiring part of these guys’ games: they want the challenge, the opportunity to play in bigger matches.
As discouraging as the results are of the Lost Gen gents, it’s their collective body language, their latent championship mentality, that ruins any consistent threat to tour hierarchy. These younger blokes look ready to choke anyone they can get their hands on. Think of Shapovalov last year in Montreal. Taking-out Del Potro in straights and then Nadal in a three-set war — a very good look from the then 17 year-old!
Felix’s win over Pouille has all kinds of quality, as well. Pouille seems to be spiraling (interesting he has Tommy Haas in his box/camp helping look for answers), but there were rallies that saw Auger-Aliassime have to trade with some legitimate ATP talent.
What makes this kid so special is his size and athleticism, to go along with this racket skills. He’s listed at 6’3″ and he can track the ball, cut-off the angle, take the ball to both corners, etc. His serve looked solid yesterday, as well.
Pouille was fully outclassed, which can only make his return to form that much more difficult. The Canadian’s straight-set win looked natural, he acts like he’s been there before . . . and he turned 18 today.
So, sure the wins over Chardy and Pouille (tour regulars) were definitive; but the deeper impact here is the look in these youngsters’ eyes, similar to that of Zverev, Thiem, Tsitsipas, Rublev and even Chung, which again make this youth movement an interesting watch — the bigger picture, my friends.
I left out two others (part of this little Russian tennis revolution) in Khachanov and Medvedev. Khachanov is up a set v Carreno Busta and Medvedev takes on Auger-Aliassime later today. Want one better than that? Denis the ATP menace takes-on Fognini.
Tough matches for both Canadians. And I like them both, especially with the crowd’s local motion.
To reiterate, here are some narrative affecting matches:
Thiem v Tsitsipas (Thiem)
Shapovalov v Fognini (Shapovalov)
Auger-Aliassime v Medvedev (Felix)
PS oh yeah, Nadal’s in action today too. Ha ha.
I’m looking for him to put a beat-down on the belligerent Paire.
Moreover, Djokovic is already up a set on a forgotten Canadian, Polansky.