The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Road to Rogers Cup: Dominic Thiem’s very first Masters 1000

March 20, 2019

Welcome to Road to Rogers Cup, the weekly roundup of all the action on the ATP Tour ahead of the 2019 Rogers Cup presented by National Bank at IGA Stadium from August 2 to 11.

This week, we’re recapping the season’s very first Masters 1000 tournament: the BNP Paribas Open.

Photo: Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open

Last week: Thiem till the end


Things didn’t exactly go according to plan at the season’s inaugural Masters 1000 event. More than a few seeds fell early on, paving the way for players that may otherwise have flown below the radar.

Novak Djokovic (1) and Alexander Zverev (3) were sent packing in the third round. Still, Djokovic, who hadn’t competed since the Australian Open, managed to reach the men’s doubles semi with Fabio Fognini.

The vacancies left by Djokovic and Zverev in the top half of the draw gave Gaël Monfils, Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic more room to shine. The Canadian made it to the semifinals for the fourth time in five years before running into Thiem.

Gaël Monfils had some incredible momentum—so much so that many fans thought he’d find his way to the final—until he was stopped in his tracks by a strained Achille tendon ahead of his quarterfinal match against Thiem. A true class act, Monfils asked tournament organizers to let him walk out onto the court and explain his withdrawal to the crowd.

There was less drama in the bottom half: only Medvedev and Goffin bowed out in the early rounds. Hubert Hurkacz of Poland rampaged through the draw, defeating Young, Pouille (28), Nishikori (6) and Shapovalov (24), but was no match for Roger Federer.

Also at the bottom, Rafael Nadal (2) got off to a great start and had everyone looking forward to a Federer-Nadal semifinal clash, but knee pain forced the Spaniard to withdraw and gave Federer his ticket to the final.

The showdown between Thiem and Federer didn’t disappoint. To secure his very first Masters 1000 title, the Austrian ace fought off nerves and ultimately overpowered the Maestro in three sets (3-6, 6-3, 7-5).

For the record

  • De Minaur, Djere and Medvedev lose their way. Crowned in Sydney, Rio and Sofia, respectively, the three up-and-comers lost their way in Indian Wells, coming up short in round of 16 matches that were within their grasp. How will they fare in Miami?
  • Kohlschreiber impresses. After a rocky start to the season, Philipp Kohlschreiber proved that he still has a place among the best with wins over Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic.
Photo: Michael Cummo/BNP Paribas Open

This week: Miami turns up the heat

It’s a safe bet that Rafael Nadal’s absence will keep Novak Djokovic in conquest mode for the next two weeks. Still, his archrival Roger Federer and Indian Wells champion Dominic Thiem may stand in his way.

Federer will be out to play better than he did last season, when he was ousted by Kokkinakis in the second round.

The quarters could potentially look like Djokovic-Fognini, Raonic-Isner, Thiem-Monfils, Coric-Nishikori, Anderson-Khachanov, Medvedev-Federer, Tsitsipas-Cilic and Cecchinato-Zverev.

It remains to be seen whether logic will prevail.

Photo: Mauricio Paiz

Canadian contingent

This week, Milos Raonic (12) and Denis Shapovalov (20) will be making their débuts in the second round of Miami’s main draw. In the qualifiers, Peter Polansky didn’t make it through the first round, while Félix Auger-Aliassime is a win away from the main event. Meanwhile, Brayden Schnur and Filip Peliwo are competing at the Zhangjiagang International Challenger in China.

(Feature photo: Kathryn Riley/BNP Paribas Open)