The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

407 ETR Pitstop: Lajovic upsets Auger-Aliassime; Rublev shines in second round

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August 11, 2021
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Photo : Tyler Anderson/Tennis Canada

By Max Gao

On another hot and humid day at the Aviva Centre, Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic dashed the hopes of No. 9 seed Félix Auger-Aliassime, defeating the Montréal native, 7-5, 6-4, in an hour and 38 minutes to move into the last 16 at the 2021 National Bank Open presented by Rogers. Lajovic will now face No. 6 seed Casper Ruud, who is currently on a 13-match winning streak and enjoying a breakout season on the ATP Tour.

In their second-ever meeting, there was little to separate Lajovic and Auger-Aliassime in the first 10 games of the match, with both men fighting to stay on serve. However, it was the Serb who was able to take advantage of a few streaky points from the Canadian, including a double fault on break point at 5-all, to draw first blood. After serving out the opening set with ease, the World No. 44 would ride this wave of momentum into the second set, claiming a break in the third game that would ultimately prove decisive.

Fresh off winning the Olympic gold medal in mixed doubles with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No. 4 seed Andrey Rublev kicked off his North American hardcourt swing in fine style with a 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over Italy’s Fabio Fognini. He will now face big-serving American John Isner, who fired 21 aces and came from a set down to upset No. 13 seed Cristian Garin, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, in two hours and 13 minutes.

Photo : Peter Power/Tennis Canada

After falling down an early break in the opening set, Rublev raised his level, breaking straight back and raising his level when it mattered most in the tiebreak to take a one-set lead. In addition to claiming a crucial break in the eighth game of the second set, the Russian continued to dominate on his own serve, hitting a total of 13 aces and winning 81% (39/48) of his first-serve points in the 92-minute clash.

In the final match of the day session on Stadium Court, No. 8 seed Diego Schwartzman overcame a tight opening set to defeat crafty Frenchman Benoit Paire, 7-5, 6-1. The former French Open semi-finalist, who also made the quarter-finals of this event in 2017, will now face the winner of the match between American qualifier Tommy Paul and No. 10 seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

After saving a couple of break points at 5-all, Schwartzman bided his time and broke to strike first in the second-round clash. That seemed to break any resistance that Paire had put up for much of the opening set, as Schwartzman would jump out to an early double-break lead in the second and never really looked back to claim the victory in an hour and 20 minutes.

In an all-Russian battle of two Olympic silver medalists, it was Karen Khachanov who was able to come out on top, defeating No. 15 seed Aslan Karatsev, 7-6(7), 6-4. The Olympic runner-up in singles will face No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas tomorrow.

In a titanic, two-set battle, Khachanov jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, only for Karatsev to strike back and win six of the next seven games to serve for the set at 6-5. Khachanov, however, would break straight back and force a tiebreak, where he needed five set points to win the first set in 71 minutes. Karatsev attempted to respond by earning an early break in the second, but Khachanov would eventually claw his way back. He saved three break points while serving for the match and needed three chances of his own before securing the victory in two hours and 11 minutes.

Australian qualifier James Duckworth continued his impressive run of form in Toronto on Court 1, defeating No. 16 seed Jannik Sinner, 6-3, 6-4. Sinner, who just captured the biggest title of his young career at the Citi Open in Washington, did not have any answers for Duckworth, who broke twice and saved both break points that he faced in the 76-minute encounter. Duckworth will now face No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev, who survived a three-set scare yesterday against Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.

Meanwhile, on Court 4, South Africa’s Lloyd Harris rolled past Spanish lucky loser Feliciano Lopez, 6-2, 6-3, in just 64 minutes. Harris, who scored the biggest win over his career against Rafael Nadal last week at the Citi Open, will now face big-serving American Reilly Opelka for a place in the quarter-finals.

In doubles action, the all-British team of Dan Evans and Neal Skupski knocked out Ruud and Miomir Kecmanovic, 7-5, 6-3, while the all-Belgian team of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen upset the No. 7-seeded team of Tim Putz and Michael Venus, 7-5, 7-6(3). Later in the day, Andrey Golubev and Andreas Mies edged out Marin Cilic and Jan-Lennard Struff in a spirited battle on Court 4, winning 6-4, 5-7, 13-11.

2016 finalist Kei Nishikori withdrew in the early afternoon due to a shoulder injury, giving No. 7 seed Hubert Hurkacz a win by walkover. The young Pole will now face Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili, who needed just 56 minutes to knock out No. 12 seed Alex de Minaur, 6-1, 6-1.

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