Preview: Khachanov & Medvedev Make Russian History In Montreal
In a battle of contrasting styles between two of the most talented young stars on the ATP Tour, sixth seed Karen Khachanov and eighth seed Daniil Medvedev face off on Saturday in the Coupe Rogers semi-finals. Top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal is also in the last four and will play No. 10 seed Roberto Bautista Agut or No. 16 seed Gael Monfils.
Khachanov and Medvedev’s match guarantees a Russian finalist in Canada for the first time since Marat Safin took the title at 2000 Toronto. It also marks the first-ever all-Russian semi-final at this event. Both men made history earlier this year by joining the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings together, Khachanov in June and Medvedev in July, marking the first time two Russians are in the Top 10 since October 2010.
“It’s never easy to play against a friend from the same country,” said Khachanov. “We’ve grown up together. We played all the tournaments since [age] 12 or 14. We know each other pretty well.
“It's nice to make history. Still, it's a long way [to go]. If we can make some records or make more history, it would be just great for us and great for the country, of course.”
Despite Khachanov’s banner season, he hadn’t reached a semi-final this year prior to arriving in Montreal. The 23-year-old stepped up in a brutal draw that saw him beat Stan Wawrinka, Felix Auger-Aliassime and third seed Alexander Zverev. When his lethal serve-and-forehand combination are firing, he’s a player that no one wants to face.
Medvedev’s season has provided a stark contrast to Khachanov’s in that he’s been a weekend staple. The eighth seed is competing in his eighth semi-final of the year (4-3) and has won 12 of his past 15 matches. The Russian counterpuncher has also scored four Top 10 wins this season, including a comprehensive quarter-final victory on Friday over Dominic Thiem. But with his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Khachanov tied 1-1, he looks to take the lead and move into his first Masters 1000 final.
”He's from the same country and a good friend,” said Medvedev. “Of course, first we play for ourselves. I am sure that even if Karen wasn't there, I could also be in the Top 10. But it's a good competition between us two.”
Nadal awaits the winner of Friday’s rain-delayed quarter-final between Bautista Agut and Monfils. Regardless of who he plays, the Spaniard has history on his side. He leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Monfils 14-2 and has won their past six matches. Nadal hasn’t lost a set against Bautista Agut in their three previous meetings and only dropped seven games in their past five sets.
”I have been solid… happy with the way I am competing and enjoying,” said Nadal. "Let's see tomorrow. Another opportunity to be in another final. Will be great if I am able to make that happen."
Monfils leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Bautista Agut 3-1, but the Spaniard won their latest meeting two years ago in Montreal. Bautista Agut is in the form of his life, having reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final last month at Wimbledon, and is projected to crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings on Monday if he can defeat the Frenchman.