The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Cashmere Wrap: Medvedev survives three-set thriller against Hurkacz, sets up semi-final clash with Isner

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August 14, 2021
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Photo : Peter Power/Tennis Canada

By Max Gao

Nearly six weeks after their five-set match at Wimbledon, World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev got revenge on World No. 13 Hubert Hurkacz, rallying from a set down to edge out the Pole in a three-set thriller under the lights of the Aviva Centre. With a 2-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(5) victory over Hurkacz, Medvedev will now face big-serving American John Isner — who defeated No. 11 seed Gael Monfils, 7-6(5), 6-4, to cap off the night session — for a place in Sunday’s final.

Medvedev Outlasts Hurkacz in Third-Set Tiebreak

With little to separate both men in the opening five games, it was Medvedev who would blink first, gifting Hurkacz a 4-2 lead with a double fault. While Hurkacz continued to play measured and controlled tennis from the baseline, Medvedev grew increasingly frustrated in the windy conditions, hitting 19 unforced errors in 32 minutes to give the seventh-seeded Pole a commanding one-set advantage.

The second set, however, proved to be a much tighter affair, with Medvedev gradually beginning to find his range and Hurkacz continuing to redirect his Russian counterpart’s flat groundstrokes. Leading 3-2, the Pole had a chance to go a set and a break to the good, but he failed to convert both opportunities and allowed Medvedev to hold for 3-all. Both men would continue to dominate in their respective service games until the set had to be decided in a tiebreak. This time, it was Hurkacz who would blink when it mattered most, dumping a smash into the net on a crucial point as Medvedev restored parity at one-set-all.

Both players had their fair share of chances in the fiercely contested final set, but it was Medvedev who was able to rise to the occasion on the big points, saving a break point with a clutch backhand volley at 5-all before holding for 6-5 to keep his nose in front. Fittingly, Hurkacz would continue his dominance on serve to force a final-set tiebreak, but a few costly backhand errors gifted Medvedev an advantage that he would keep to close out the two-hour, 16-minute battle.

“He had his chances and he was probably the better player for at least two sets for sure, but that’s tennis,” Medvedev told Sportsnet’s Arash Madani in his post-match interview. “We both have great serves and I managed to hit some aces when I needed to. It was definitely not easy. He was on top of me. But to win matches like this gives you a huge boost of confidence.”

Isner Fires 13 Aces En Route to Winning 13th Meeting With Monfils

In the final quarter-final of the day, Isner continued his fine form on the North American hardcourts, winning his ninth match in a row with a straight-sets victory over Monfils. The American created six break points in the tight opening set, but Monfils was able to stave off all of them to force a first-set tiebreak. The Frenchman was able to recover two mini-breaks from 1-5 down in the breaker, only to double fault away another one that would ultimately prove decisive and help Isner move within a set of the semi-finals. With Monfils receiving treatment for a right Achilles injury in the second set, Isner bided his time and earned a crucial break at 4-all before serving out the match at love.

“I didn’t fare too well in the ATP Cup [last year] in the only time I played him, so I’m going to have to change up some tactics,” Isner said of facing Medvedev tomorrow evening. “But I’m definitely playing better now than I was then. He’s definitely going to do what he does. He’s full of confidence. He’s going to stand on the fence, he’s going to make a lot of returns, he’s going to run. He’s No. 2 in the world for a reason. I’m going to have to play well.”

Mektic/Pavic Continue Dominance in 2021; Cabal/Farah Fall in Doubles Quarter-Finals

Earlier in the day, reigning Wimbledon and Olympic champions and No. 1 seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic continued their quest for an astounding 10th title of 2021 with a hard-fought 6-3, 6-7(8), 10-7 victory over Luke Saville and Matwe Middelkoop. They will face a familiar foe in No. 4 seeds Kevin Krawietz and Horia Tecau, who defeated Aslan Karatsev and Dusan Lajovic, 6-3, 3-6, 10-3.

In the other quarter-final, the all-Belgian team of Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen stunned No. 2 seeds Juan Sebastián Cabal and Robert Farah, 6-7(5), 6-2, 10-8. They will now face No. 3 seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, who knocked out No. 8 seeds Rohan Bopanna and Ivan Dodig, 4-6, 6-3, 10-4.

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