The ‘big guns’ took to the courts in round two at the Canadian Open Masters, as scheduled, except for Rafa Nadal, the second seed who withdrew citing his left foot as the reason behind his decision.
I really wanted to play here a lot, but now is the moment to make a decision, and this is unfortunately the decision that I have taken, and probably in the next couple of days we are going to know more Rafa Nadal
That injury was revealed by the Spaniard who has slipped to four in the world rankings, as the reason behind his decision and the additional time off-court should provide him with extra time to recover for the US Open which starts on August 30.
Unfortunately it doesn’t augur well for the for the 20-time Grand Slam champion who is attempting to stave off the challenge of rival Novak Djokovic pulling ahead in the table of most majors won. Whether he will appear in Cincinnati is now also very much in doubt.
“I have had this issue for a couple of months, as people know,” the 5-time Canadian champion said. “Of course, it is not a happy situation after all the success that I had here in Canada, not being able to play this year after missing a year. It’s a tough one, but that’s how it is today. I need to go back and try to find a way to be better again.
“At the end of the day, for me the most important thing is to enjoy playing tennis.
“Today, with this pain, I am not able to enjoy it, and I really don’t believe that I have the chance to fight for the things that I really need to fight for.
“I really wanted to play here a lot, but now is the moment to make a decision, and this is unfortunately the decision that I have taken, and probably in the next couple of days we are going to know more.”
His place in the draw will be filled by countryman Feliciano Lopez.
Also out of this year’s running in Toronto is the fast rising Sebastian Korda, the 21 year-old American son of the Australian Open champion Petr Korda. A back problem has prevented him from making his debut in Canada.
Korda, who is enjoying a career-high ranking of No.45 in the world made the round-of-16 last week in Washington before losing to eventual champion Jannik Sinner.
Korda was drawn to meet Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka in his opening match and was replaced by American ‘lucky loser’ Frances Tiafoe who took out the Japanese qualifier 6-4 6-3.
Also out, unfortunately for British fans, is Cameron Norrie who followed Dan Evans in exiting the event in the opening round.
The British No.2’s encounter with the powerful Russian Karen Khachanov, provided an interesting contest in which the Brit had his chances before eventually capitulating 6-4 5-7 6-4.
Norrie had started his hard-court campaign by winning the Los Cabos title, his first on the ATP Tour, and is currently ranked 29, two places behind Evans, who tops the national rankings. Khachanov currently sits in between them on the world stage!
On this occasion the 25year-old Brit pushed the Olympic silver medallist but never really recovered from losing the opening games in the first and third set and only converting two of 10 break points.
Khachanov was also predictably strong on serve and sent down 10 aces to claim victory in two hours and 33-minutes in what was their fourth career meeting leaving them with two wins apiece.
“I knew that it would be a tough one because both of us right now are on the rise, playing good tennis, so I was expecting a difficult match,” Khachanov admitted, “It was a battle. I’m really pleased that I could deliver this result today.
“I want to keep going, keep having this momentum and try to improve and hopefully go higher,” the big Russian added, “I was in the Top 10 and this is where I want to go back to and I see myself in there.
“This is the goal right now. I am now more focusing on the things I need to do rather than the outcome. My goals are pretty big and hopefully I can achieve them”.
Having beaten Evans in his opening match, the Kazakh, Alexander Bublik faced the top seed Daniil Medvedev and gave a good account of himself but was swept aside after winning the opening set and a second set rain delay.
“I was not playing well before the rain,” the world No.2 said. “I was not feeling the ball and was missing on returns.
“I just wanted to play better – I knew I had to if I was going to win. When we got back on court, I felt much better from the first game.”
Medvedev completed the two-hour match by striking 27 winners and making 28 unforced errors but will have to lift his game if he is to achieve the target he has set himself via the ATP website prior to the match.
“I am the top seed so anything except the final will not be a good result.
“I want to play good tennis. I know when I play good tennis on hard courts, I am hard to beat.
“I am keen to win. I know I am capable of beating a lot of guys on hard and I know I can win big tournaments. At the same time, everybody plays well, everybody can beat everybody. It is unpredictable.”
In the absence of Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, the third seed, becomes his main rival for the Canadian Masters title but the Greek star will have to tidy up his game considerably if he is to give Medvedev any problems, as Ugo Humbert did.
Tsitsipas required seven attempts to break the Frenchman in the first set, finally getting the break on a double fault.
Humbert then held on to level the match requiring a marathon second set tie-break to achieve which no doubt tired him physically and mentally as he weakly let the decider slip away although he saved five match points with some great shot-making, before conceding the third round spot 6-3 5-7(15-13) 6-1.
In other action, Japan’s Kei Nishikori followed up his excellent performances at the Olympics and Washington, by eliminating Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-2 after some two hours of play.
“I knew his level would drop in the second and third sets,” said Nishikori, who next faces Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.
“I was just waiting for it. In the third set he started missing more, so I just tried to stay focused.
“My level is good. I’m playing some of my best tennis so far this year over the last couple of tournaments. I’m back on track now.”
American John Isner, winner of a sixth Atlanta trophy earlier this month, pounded 19 aces in his 6-4 6-1 humbling of Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
“Today was one of the best matches I’ve played in some time,” Isner commented. “I have a lot of confidence coming from Atlanta.
“It’s no secret I love playing in North America, I’m glad to be here.
“I may be a bit long in the tooth,” the 36-year-old added, “but I’m enjoying it on court and still have the willpower to go out and win.”
Serb Dusan Lajovic put out Finnish qualifier Emil Ruusuvuori 3-6 6-3 6-3 while Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili beat Washington semi-finalist Jenson Brooksby 2-6 6-0 6-4.
The only seed not progress was Grigor Dimitrov. Seeded 14 the Hungarian was eliminated 6-3 6-4 by America’s giant Reilly Opelka who had also sent Nick Kyrgios packing in the opening round, beating the controversial Aussie 4-6 6-74) 6-4.