The Fed-Express decided to swerve Toronto this year, with ”scheduling being the key to my longevity moving forward”. I can hardly moan at him for doing it when I’m lauding Serena for it, so fair enough. Delpo also pulled out with wrist pains, which is never great to hear after his troubles with this in the past. Probably least surprising was seeing Muzza’s withdrawal having been given a WC, his exertions in Washington the previous week giving him plenty of much-needed court time but also a little fatigue with it. Everyone else was pretty much present though in the men’s event.
Rafa Nadal walked away with the title as top-seed and deservedly so, beating Wawrinka and Cilic on his way. The only set he dropped all week was against the Croat, who could not keep up that level throughout their last 8 encounter. Rafa as per usual would just not go away, phenomenal! Stan has been improving and his win over Kyrgios in the second round will please him for many reasons as we all know but Rafa edged him out in two tight sets. Nadal then went on to beat Karen Khachanov in the semis and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final. There were signs of a bit of rustiness from Rafa over the week but he really is a class act at the end of the day.
It is Tsitsipas who won the show again though, taking out four top ten players on his way to the final, backing up his semi in Washington the previous week and some. The list of (Dzumhur), Thiem, Djokovic, Sascha Zverev and Kevin Anderson was particularly impressive. He had not lost his serve until his quarter-final against Zverev (who he turned in it round against from 3/6 3/5 and a loss last week). He also saved match points against both Zverev and Anderson on the way. Nole was not at his best but quite frankly who cares, that takes nothing away from the young lad and Djoko would probably be first to admit that. A big serve, classy groundstrokes, bottle and fight sum up the Greek lad and the fact he seems so grounded is very likeable. He still feels he has a lot more to offer this season and he will for sure in the future.
As I mentioned in my last post, Serena had rightly decided to withdraw from Montreal as did Garbine Muguruza, again with the arm injury. Caro Wozniacki and Angie Kerber lost their first matches to Aryna Sabalenka and Alize Cornet, with neither playing at there level but in particular Kerber who won just five games. This being her first outing since Wimbledon. That took out a fair few of the potential winners before we even got started.
So, it probably came as little surprise in hindsight to see Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens square off in the final. Sloane had the smoother of the journeys, making the final without breaking much sweat really or dropping a set for that matter, comfortably powering her way past Elina Svitolina in the last four. We know very clearly now that when Sloane is in the mood there is not much that is going to stop here. She shows power, athleticism and fight and as it was in Paris a few months ago there was only one player able to stop her.
Halep had once again looked to be having injury concerns, especially in her first match against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, winning 7/5 in the third but having her right foot re-taped, telling coach Darren Cahill that she was in pain. After that, she beat an injured Venus, who has, as a result, pulled out of Cincy this week. Caroline Garcia then ended up falling away pretty badly, having looked good coming into the matchup and then the Romanian comfortably outplayed Ash Barty in the semis. In the final, she won a very physical encounter against Sloane, 6/4 in the decider. Her two victories over the American show how much she has come on mentally, as previous to this, she would have undoubtedly lost both. Jo Konta will also take a few more positives away having taken out Ostapenko and Azarenka before losing to Svitolina. On a final note lets hope Mihaela Buzarenescu is ok, she got taken off the court in a wheelchair, also against Svitolina. Having won her first main tour title in San Jose and being on fire that lasts few months, I hope she will recover in time for the US Open. Fingers crossed on the ankle.
Andy Del Potro