Photo : Peter Power/Tennis Canada
By Max Gao
A day after coming within two points of defeat against No. 7 seed Hubert Hurkacz, No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev produced a clinical display on Saturday evening against John Isner, needing just 54 minutes to cruise to an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 victory under the lights of the Aviva Centre. Medvedev will now meet another big-serving American in Reilly Opelka, against whom he owns a 3-1 head-to-head record, in the singles final of the 2021 National Bank Open presented by Rogers.
After dropping just four games to Isner at the ATP Cup last year, Medvedev seemed to enter Saturday’s semi-final in Toronto with the same mindset, using the right combination of big serving and impenetrable defense to perplex and outsmart his American counterpart. The Russian’s consistent returning and ability to make his opponent hit one more ball ultimately led to more unforced errors from Isner, who quickly fell down a double break — a stark contrast to his first four matches of the week, where he was broken a total of just three times.
Medvedev would serve out the opening set with four aces, sending a clear statement of intent after just 25 minutes. He continued in the same vein, neutralizing Isner’s power with deep returns and breaking twice more en route to claiming a stunning victory. The World No. 2 is now just one win away from claiming his fourth ATP Masters 1000 title and improving on his runner-up finish at this event two years ago.
“I was playing great today,” Medvedev told Sportsnet’s Arash Madani in his post-match interview. “I think I almost did no unforced errors. I’m really happy with my game at this moment. I always like coming to the U.S. Open Series. I always feel like I’m playing better and better the more the series continues. I’m really happy that I’m still in the Toronto tournament.”
Earlier in the evening, No. 3 seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury knocked out the all-Belgian team of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, 6-3, 7-5, to move into the doubles final. The American-British team saved all five break points that they faced and broke twice in the 79-minute encounter, setting up an intriguing clash with No. 1 seeds and reigning Wimbledon and Olympic champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.
Mektic and Pavic have had Ram and Salisbury’s number this year, winning all four of their previous meetings, including their most recent one in the semi-finals of Wimbledon just over a month ago. Ram and Salisbury, who won last year’s Australian Open, will be looking to avenge all of those losses and capture their first title of the season in Sunday’s championship match.