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Double-Faults Abound In Montreal, Where Nadal and Medvedev Continue To Cruise

By Ricky Dimon

Alexander Zverev is not the defending Rogers Cup champion; that title goes to Rafael Nadal. But Zverev did lift the trophy the last time this event was played in Montreal (2017) and he is still alive this time around as action heads into the quarterfinals on Friday.

The fifth-ranked German just barely survived on Thursday, outlasting Hamburg winner Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(5) in two hours and 44 minutes.

Next up for Zverev is Karen Khachanov, who overcame Montreal native and birthday boy Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(7), 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and 50 minutes. Whereas Zverev managed to prevail despite double-faulting a ridiculous 14 times, Auger-Aliassime was undone by 11 doubles.

There was, however, actually some decent tennis played in Montreal on Thursday. Khachanov and Zverev are joined in the last eight by Kitzbuhel champion Dominic Thiem, who defeated Marin Cilic 7-6(7), 6-4. The second-seeded Austrian got back in gear following his recent clay-court triumph by beating 2017 Montreal semifinalist Denis Shapovalov in his opener. Having previously never won a match at the Rogers Cup, Thiem is suddenly regaining his hard-court form.

“I beat two amazing players,” he reflected. “I’ve really had a great transition from good confidence in the European summer. That’s also my first quarterfinals here. The match today was unreal because I saved nine out of nine break points, which doesn’t happen that often.

“The last three, four years (at the Rogers Cup) I didn’t play worse than this year, but I just came with low confidence and I came a little bit sad to Canada because I didn’t play good in my own home tournament where I usually, of course, have a lot of pressure. This year everything is different. I won this title at home. I made one of my biggest dreams come true. Of course, I’m so confident coming here. That’s the difference.”

The world No. 4 now faces a red-hot Daniil Medvedev, who lifted the Washington, D.C. trophy this past Sunday and has not yet dropped a set in Montreal.

“It’s going to be a very difficult match like the last two times,” Medvedev said of the matchup with Thiem. “I know he’s in good shape right now. When he plays like this, he’s difficult to beat. So I’ll consider this match as a test. Am I able to beat players that are in good shape like he is right now?”

Is everyone, though, playing for second place? Only time will tell, but Rafael Nadal is looking mighty strong at the moment. The top-seeded Spaniard eased past Guido Pella 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday and now awaits familiar foe Fabio Fognini.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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