(August 11, 2017) Play in Montreal kicked off with two unseeded players teeing off, with Robin Haase knocking out Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 in 2 hours and 3 minutes. The match was a grind for both players, and Haase admitted that despite not playing his best, he was still able to find a good enough level to win. “Yeah, I’m really happy. I played a lot of good matches, especially yesterday against Dimitrov. It’s tough to come back and play that same level. I didn’t, but I managed to win because I kept fighting.”
It was no easy path for Schwartzman either, who knocked out Dominic Thiem and was also hoping to make his first ever Masters semifinal. “It took a lot out of us. We beat good guys,” said Haase. “We’ve been playing really well. Then to do it on this stage again for your first semis, it’s not easy.
It was business as usual for Roger Federer, who improved his record on hard courts in 2017 to 23-1 with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Roberto Bautista Agut. Federer wasn’t at his best despite only being broken once, but it was more than enough to keep the match from running away from him. “I believe I served better earlier in the match. But I still believed Bautista Agut didn’t return as well as David Ferrer. Both things combined, two major factors in a beginning of a match, I was able to get into the match better.”
Federer also looked to come to net more often, and was part of how he was able to put pressure on Bautista Agut at 4-all in the first set to break him and then take the set. “Of course, it was tough until 4-All. But my game plan worked better against Bautista Agut than against Ferrer. I believe it’s because today I was more aggressive coming to the net. It was more possible today. I was aggressive yesterday, but I couldn’t carry it out because Ferrer had better momentum from the baseline.”
However, the talk of the tournament continues to be 18 year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov who backed up his huge victory over Rafael Nadal by knocking out Adrian Mannarino 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to make his first ever Masters semifinal.
It was an intense, dramatic match and Shapovalov struggled early, being broken in his first two service games in the first set. “Yeah, I started off pretty slow. Just drained from yesterday. Rafa took a lot out of me. But Adrian did a good job of, you know, playing fast with me in the first set, really taking it to me.”
Fortuitously for the Canadian, there was a rain delay early in the second set, and he was able to gather himself. “During the rain delay, I kind of told myself, you know, This could be a really good turning point. It’s giving him a little bit of time to think about his game. He got a little bit cold. It’s always tough to come out and serve after having, you know, 11, 12 minutes off.” The wind significantly subsided as well, and this made it much more conducive to Shapovalov’s big hitting.
Shapovalov started the week well out of the top 100, and is now set to make it to 66 in the world, at the very least, which will earn him main draw entries into more main tour events. “Yeah, when I beat Rafa, I got top 100. Today, you know, I’m 66, like you said. It’s a lot of changes happening within a couple days. For now, I’m ranked 144, till the end of the week. Yeah, we’ll plan after the event. It’s going to be a little bit of a change now. Probably playing more ATPs, fewer challengers.”
The Canadian saved four match points in his second round match against Rogerio Dutra Silva and when asked about what he’s most proud of from the week, he simply mentioned how hard he’s fought. “I think just my fighting spirit. If I don’t save those match points in the first match, there’s no chance of being here.”
It will be a battle of “youngsters” as 18-year-old Shapovalov will take on fourth seed 20-year-old Alexander Zverev for a place in the final. In a rematch of last weekends Citi Open final, the German defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-4.