Preview & Schedule: Nadal & Fognini Renew Their Rivalry In Montreal
The last time that Rafael Nadal and Fabio Fognini faced off against each other, the Italian scored one of the biggest upsets of this season at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. Nadal will look for revenge in Montreal when they meet again on Friday in the Coupe Rogers quarter-finals.
“He's having a great season, one of the best of his career, if not the best. He's playing at very high standards,” said Nadal. “We are in the quarter-finals of an [ATP] Masters 1000. All opponents are tough. For me, tomorrow is an opportunity to go on court against one of the best players and try to play a good match. Let’s see if I am able to.”
Top seed and defending champion Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 11-4 and has won six of their past eight matches. But when seventh seed Fognini defeats the Spaniard, he makes it count. In their only previous meeting in North America at the 2015 US Open, Fognini came back from two sets down to prevail in a five-set, third-round thriller that remains Nadal's earliest exit in New York in the past 14 years.
Fognini’s banner season includes his first Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo (d. Lajovic) and, at age 32, becoming the oldest player since 1973 to crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time. The Italian is through to the quarter-finals in Canada for the first time in 10 trips and has done so without dropping a set, but will need to be at his best if he hopes to pull off another upset against the World No. 2.
Nadal has remained consistently consistent this year, reaching at least the semi-finals in eight of the nine events he played before Montreal. But one of the few things Nadal hasn’t done before is successfully defend a hard-court title. He’s shown signs of rust in his first tournament since Wimbledon, but always finds a way to raise his level at the business end of big events.
Second-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem takes on eighth-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev for a place in Saturday’s semi-finals. Thiem leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 2-0, including a comprehensive win this April in the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final. Thiem is no longer a stranger to hard-court success after winning his maiden Masters 1000 crown this year at the BNP Paribas Open (d. Federer), but Medvedev is also in top form after finishing runner-up last week at the Citi Open (l. to Kyrgios).
“He's having a great season,” said Thiem. “First time in the Top 10 [of the ATP Rankings]. I think he’s one of the guys with the most wins, playing unbelievable, solid tennis every week. It’s going to be a very tough match.”
Third-seeded German Alexander Zverev looks to continue his love affair with Montreal when he takes on sixth-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov. The 2017 champion (d. Federer) leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Khachanov 2-1, but Khachanov won their most recent clash at last year’s Rolex Paris Masters. Zverev seeks his first win over a Top 10 player this year, while Khachanov aims for his first semi-final of the season.
The night session concludes with a battle of veterans when No. 10 seed Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain squares off with No. 16 seed Gael Monfils of France. Monfils leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 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 will put himself in contention to crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings on Monday if he can defeat the Frenchman.
ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, 9 August 2019
Court Central start 12:00 noon
 Daniil Medvedev vs  Dominic Thiem
NB 2:00 pm
 Alexander Zverev vs  Karen Khachanov
NB 6:30 pm
 Rafael Nadal vs  Fabio Fognini
 Gael Monfils vs  Roberto Bautista Agut
Banque Nationale start 12:00 noon
Rajeev Ram / Joe Salisbury vs Jeremy Chardy / Fabrice Martin
 Bob Bryan / Mike Bryan vs Robin Haase / Wesley Koolhof
Rohan Bopanna / Denis Shapovalov vs Benoit Paire / Stan Wawrinka