The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Road to Rogers Cup: 12 Roland-Garros crowns for Rafael Nadal

June 12, 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 Roland-Garros, the season’s second major, which came to a close last Sunday.

Last week: A lot like last year


Everyone knew Rafael Nadal could sweep Roland-Garros, but no one predicted all the twists and turns that led him to the title in Paris.

A few seeds bowed out early, including Marin Cilic (11) who had a tough third-round battle. After over four hours of combat, he was sent packing by Grigor Dimitrov.

Jan-Lennard Struff asserted his talent on clay all spring. From Stefanos Tsitsipas to Marin Cilic and Borna Coric, he racked up unexpected wins that carried him all the way to the round of 16 in the City of Lights.

Stan Wawrinka was also full of surprises. Despite being plagued by injury in recent years, he was dominant against Stefanos Tsitsipas and shipped his Greek opponent home in the round of 16. Regrettably, their five-hour battle took its toll in Wawrinka’s quarterfinal match against his countryman Roger Federer.

Many fans were looking forward to a semi-final showdown between the Maestro and the King of Clay, but the clash didn’t live up to expectations, as the merciless Majorcan ran away with the win (6-3, 6-4, 6-2).

Because of the rain, the semi-final between Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic was stretched to two days. The Austrian sensation powered through five tight sets to earn a ticket to his second consecutive final in Paris.

The ultimate face-off was a repeat of 2018. As the bout got underway, it was clear that Dominic Thiem had no intention of making things easy for Nadal. But after winning the first set and dropping the second, Rafa managed to take control and never looked back (6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1).

The 18-time Grand Slam champion brought his record at Roland-Garros to 93 wins and 2 losses and is fast approaching Federer’s best of 20 Grand Slam titles.

When asked about the trophy race, Nadal was pragmatic: “I want to follow my own journey, give myself the best opportunities and give myself the possibility of competing at the highest level. And if I end up in a position like that of today where I’m the one who won most Roland-Garros titles in history, well, all very well.”

For the record

  • Kyrgios will be Kyrgios. “The fact that I’m here right now and then I have to go to Paris in a couple of days is like … the French Open just sucks compared to this place. It sucks, it absolutely sucks,” affirmed Nick Kyrgios after spending a few days at Wimbledon with Andy Murray. Later in the week, he withdrew from Roland-Garros due to injury. Sigh.
  • French fortune. Thirteen French players were still in action in the second round of Roland-Garros. Antoine Hoang got as far as the third with a win over Fernando Verdasco (23), and Benoît Paire surprised the local crowd by reaching the round of 16 and undermining some of Kei Nishikori’s best efforts.
  • Zverev still struggling. Once again, Alexander Zverev was stopped in his tracks at a Grand Slam. Despite being easily ejected in the quarters by Djokovic, his performance this year is his best result ever at a major.

This week: On to s-Hertogenbosch and Stuttgart!

While most of the ATP headliners are off this week, some intrepid competitors are already preparing for the Wimbledon grass.

Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are the favourites in Stuttgart and s-Hertogenbosch, respectively. It should be an interesting transition to watch.

Photo: Peter Staples / ATP Tour

Canadian contingent

Milos Raonic and Félix Auger-Aliassime, who both skipped Paris due to injury, are back in action this week in Stuttgart, where they’re seeded sixth and seventh, in that order. Denis Shapovalov (8) is also in the mix, but Brayden Schnur fell in the first qualifying round. Peter Polansky is making an appearance at the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham.