The two players who were expected to be contesting the final of the Canadian Open, aka the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, were surprisingly beaten at the quarter final stage of the Masters 1000 event in Toronto.
I went after my shots. You can’t start any points on your heels against him, he’ll take advantage of it, so you’ve really got to go after your shots early in the rally. Tommy Paul
It’s been a week of upsets with top ranked players falling by the wayside virtually on a daily basis leaving the field wide open for Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev to improve their respective records at Masters level both having picked up two of the titles available in five of the nine played this season. Medvedev was in fact ahead of Alcaraz with an additional finalist appearance.
The bigger surprise was the world No.1 Alcaraz’s 6-3 4-6 6-3 demise to American Tommy Paul achieved over two-hours and 20-minutes of play during which the 20-year-old Spaniard could be heard to be muttering to himself continually in an effort to raise his game.
All through the week he has struggled to find that form which has made him unbeatable over14 consecutive matches but has always found an answer as all great champions do when in trouble. On this occasion he wasn’t able to, and his frustrations were very evident.
Ironically perhaps, last year Paul, the world No.14. also beat him but in the second round when the event was staged in Montreal.
“I don’t know if I think I have the recipe, but I played a really good match today,” Paul said after notching his second win over Alcaraz.
“I went after my shots. You can’t start any points on your heels against him, he’ll take advantage of it, so you’ve really got to go after your shots early in the rally.
“Luckily I was feeling really good, playing first-strike tennis.”
For the second time in as many days, Alcaraz was forced into a three-setter having 24-hours earlier, only just beaten Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in a match lasting two-and-a-half hours.
After losing serve three times in the opening set, Alcaraz recovered enough to take the second only to make a crucial volleying error in the third to fall 4-2 behind.
And Paul, seeded 14, wasn’t going to let the opportunity which opened up, go by, advancing to a semi-final meeting with Jannik Sinner, the seventh seed from Italy, who dispatched the seemingly rejuvenated Frenchman, Gael Monfils, 6-4 4-6 6-3 after two-hours, 22-minutes.
“I knew he would be there in the third set,” Paul said after pocketing the match on his second match point, adding: “It helps to have beaten an opponent before. That attitude is important.”
Earlier in the day, the second-seeded Daniil Medvedev had fallen after two-hours and 3-minutes to the Aussie ‘Demon’, Alex de Miaur 7-6(7) 7-5.
For the unseeded De Minaur it will be his first semi-final appearance at a Masters level event but he will have his hands full when he faces another unseeded player, the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, world ranked 37, who beat American Mackenzie McDonald in 96-minutes on his third match poit, 6-4 6-2.
The 27-year-old Medvedev who had won his last seven matches in Toronto, winning the title in 2021, was unable to get past the efficient game of the world No.18 De Minaur, who had lost four of his five previous meetings with the Russian.
“I had to play my best tennis,” De Minaur, runner-up at Los Cabos last weekend, said.
“It’s always a complete chess match between us, we’re both adaptable and can play many styles of tennis.
“He brings out the best in me, The way I played today, was the best style of tennis that I could produce.”
The Aussie saved three set points in the opener and claimed the victory on his own second opportunity as Medvedev double-faulted.
“It was not a bad match but I definitely could have done better to win the first set,” Medvedev admitted. “I mean, up 5-1 on the tiebreak, and then 6-4 5-3 serving for it – I could have done better.”