Friday Preview: Nadal Leads Five Of Top 10 In Toronto QFs
Tsitsipas, Khachanov contest first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-finals
World No. 1 Rafael Nadal continues his bid for a fourth Rogers Cup crown on Friday, with Nitto ATP Finals qualification on the line in the Toronto quarter-finals, which features five of the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings. At one end of the spectrum, Spanish superstar Nadal appears in his 86th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final (66-19), while Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov of Russia contest their first on the hard courts of Toronto.
Nadal, who beat former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka on Thursday night, is set for another blockbuster against World No. 7 Marin Cilic during the night session and victory would see him become the first singles player to clinch a spot at the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. Aiming to capture a record 33rd Masters 1000 crown (and third of 2018), Nadal won the Canadian crown in 2005 (d. Agassi), 2008 (d. Kiefer) and 2013 (d. Raonic).
Cilic, who is through to the Rogers Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2008, was leading Nadal in their Australian Open quarter-final in January, when his opponent retired due to a right hip injury. The 32-year-old Nadal, who leads Cilic 5-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (4-2 on hard courts), is seeking his ninth Masters 1000 hard-court title and first since winning the BNP Paribas Open, Montreal and the Western & Southern Open in 2013.
Tsitsipas could become the youngest player to post three Top 10 wins at a single tournament since Nadal, then 19, in April 2006 at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters should the 19-year-old #NextGenATP star beat defending champion Alexander Zverev. The Greek has also knocked out Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic this week, while Zverev needs to lift his fourth Masters 1000 crown in order to hold off Juan Martin del Potro and remain at No. 3 in the ATP Rankings on 13 August. Six days ago, Zverev beat Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4 in the Citi Open semi-finals in Washington, D.C.
World No. 5 Grigor Dimitrov, a few days shy of attempting to retain the Cincinnati crown (d. Kyrgios), has won seven of his past nine matches against Top 10 opponents and looks to be returning to top form ahead of his match-up against No. 6-ranked Kevin Anderson, the recent Wimbledon finalist. Anderson is 1-10 in Masters 1000 quarter-finals, having reached the last four at the Mutua Madrid Open in May, but Dimitrov leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-1 (3-1 on hard courts).
Dutchman Robin Haase, who is playing some of the best tennis of his career at the age of 31, looks to reach the Toronto semi-finals for the second consecutive year (2017, l. to Federer) with victory over Khachanov, who has held serve this week in 31 of his 32 service games, including victories over No. 12 seed Pablo Carreno Busta and eighth seed John Isner. One place in the ATP Rankings separates No. 38-ranked Khachanov from Haase (No. 39) ahead of their first-time meeting.