The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Road to Rogers Cup: Félix Auger-Aliassime rocks Rio

March 1, 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.

Recap of last week: Rio and Marseille in a nutshell.

Photo: Rio Open / Fotojump

Last week: An emotional first title for Laslo Djere


All eyes were on the Rio Open, the only ATP 500 event held last week. In a surprising turn of events, seven of the top eight seeds fell in the first round. World No. 8 Dominic Thiem (1) lost to the eventual champion, and Fabio Fognini (2) was ousted by Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime.

As you’ve probably guessed, the week’s biggest revelations were Laslo Djere and our very own hometown hero. The 23-year-old Serbian, currently ranked World No. 90, was a dominant force and didn’t drop a single set as he coasted to his very first ATP title. It was an emotional triumph for Djere, who’s seen his share of tough times.

“I lost my mother seven years ago, and I want to dedicate this to her. And, also, to my dad. I lost him two months ago. My parents are the reason I am here today, and I hope they’re watching me now.”

Auger-Aliassime also impressed. Tournament organizers didn’t regret giving him a wild card, since he managed to conquer tricky opponents and the hearts of Brazilian fans! He showed determination and maturity to reach his first ATP 500 final, becoming the youngest player to do so since the event category was launched in 2009.

In the championship match, nerves and frequent unforced errors sunk him in two sets (6-3, 7-5). Still, his dazzling performances all week propelled him 44 spots in the rankings to World No. 60.

“What a week you’ve given me, Rio! Would have liked to go one step further, but it wasn’t meant to be for me this time. I’ll keep working and improving to give myself a chance to play for titles again.”

At the ATP 500 tournament in Marseille, everything went according to plan, as Stefanos Tsitsipas overwhelmed Mikhail Kukushkin and claimed a second title.

“There was a lot of stress this week, because I knew I had to face some good opponents. When you care a lot, you tend to be more stressed than usual. I’m happy I got through that stress and played the game I was supposed to play.”

For the record

  • Juan Martin del Potro on the comeback trail. Coming off a four-month hiatus to heal his right knee, del Potro played in Delray Beach last week. Despite his early exit in the quarters, he was still satisfied with his performance: “I played three matches after four months away, and that’s the best thing for me.”
  • Radu Albot wins his first title. The 29-year-old became the first man from Moldova to win an ATP crown. He climbs from World No. 82 to No. 52.
Photo: Peter Staples / ATP Tour

Next week: BNP Paribas Open up next for ATP stars

While the stars of the circuit have, for the most part, returned to the game this week, the headliners will of course be at the Indian Wells tournament starting next week.

However, the 2018 defending champion will not be there. Indeed, Juan Martin del Potro, struggling with a recurring knee injury had to announce his withdrawal after an attempt to return to the game last week, but hopes to be back in time for the Miami tournament.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic will return to play at the BNP Paribas Open next week. He has not played any tournament since his win at the Australian Open. He enjoys his time outside the tennis courts in order to refine his physical condition.

Certainly, veterans such as Nadal, who lost quickly in the tournament played in Mexico, and Federer, Indian Wells finalist last year, will try to get their hands on the title, but the young guns will also be good candidates! To be continued…

Photo: Rio Open / Fotojump

Canadian contingent

Besides Félix Auger-Aliassime, Peter Polansky, Adil Shamasdin and Filip Peliwo will play on the Challenger circuit this week. Milos Raonic lost in the first round in Dubai, and Denis Shapovalov is taking the week off.


Feature photo: Rio Open / Fotojump