French showman Gael Monfils didn’t surrender his 7-match winning streak even if he disappointed the biased home supporters at Toronto. It was widely expected that Milos Raonic would conquer Monfils to keep his expected semifinal date with Novak Djokovic. But Monfils matched the Canadian ball for ball and broke once in each set to record his eighth consecutive win. 500 kilometers away in Montreal, Great Britain’s Johanna Konta couldn’t realize her dream of reaching the final that would have brought her among the top 10 WTA players. The Briton had been in great touch throughout the week but the Slovak qualifier Kristina Kucova derailed her progress in the quarterfinal. With the completion of these last two quarterfinal games at Toronto and Montreal, the semifinal line-up at Rogers Cup for both men and women has clearly emerged. On Saturday at Toronto, Djokovic takes on Monfils while the other semifinal will be between Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori. At Montreal, Angelique Kerber meets Simona Halep in the first semifinal and in the other Kristina Kucova plays against Madison Keys. In women’s doubles, India’s Sania Mirza and Switzerland’s Martina Hingis lost their quarterfinal match and went out of the reckoning.
In Friday night’s last quarterfinal game, Gael Monfils faced Milos Raonic, a better player than him in Emirates ATP rankings. Besides, Raonic had the entire stadium rooting for him. Monfils didn’t care. He contrived to return Raonic’s service on most occasions and squeezed a solitary break in both sets. That was enough to take the Frenchman for a semifinal meeting with world’s best player Novak Djokovic. For the 8th consecutive match, Monfils has scored over against his opponent and that includes the title victory at the Citi Open at Washington DC last week. Monfils played a simple game of holding his serve throughout the match. From time to time, Raonic looked like coming up with something special but Monfils nullified the Canadian’s big service with some genuinely innovative shots. Just one break of service in each set was enough for Monfils to win the match 6-4, 6-4. It may not be easy for Monfils in the semifinal, where he faces world no.1 Novak Djokovic. Their head-tohead record stands at 11-0 in Djokovic’s favor but the Frenchman has nothing to lose. This year Monfils also reached the final at Monte-Carlo Masers but lost to Nadal in the title game.
Djokovic had a relatively hard time against Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych before prevailing with a 7-6, 6-4 victory. The Serb looked downcast against Berdych, who reeled off 5 straight points after being 1-3 down in the first set tiebreak and held three set points. But a double fault and some improvisation from Djokovic helped the Serb take the first set. In the second, Djokovic broke Berdych in the third game and finished the ordeal in just under 2 hours. In the other semifinal, second-seeded Stan Wawrinka will play against Japan’s Kei Nishikori. Wawrinka played his best tennis to oust big-serving South African Kevin Anderson 6-1, 6-3 while Nishikori dropped a set against Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov before winning at 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
At Montreal, Britain’s Johanna Konta missed a big chance to break into the top 10 of WTA singles rankings. Konta’s fairy-tale progress at Rogers Cup was halted by Slovak qualifier Kristina Kucova. After beating home favorite Eugenie Bouchard in third round, Kucova got a boost in her confidence and played regulation tennis against Konta. Riding on an unexpected crowd support, Kucova broke Konta once in the first set and once more in the second to advance to the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-3 victory. Konta was trying to become only the fourth British woman in history to be ranked within 10 in women’s tennis after Virginia Wade, Sue Barker and Jo Durie but she threw away the chance by committing 40 unforced errors. The Briton couldn’t replicate her form of the last few days at Montreal and played much below par. Kucova, on the other hand, was a bundle of energy and it showed on every point. Her semifinal opponent will be USA’s Madison Keys, who fought hard against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, before coming through with 7-6, 1-6, 6-0.
The other women’s semifinal will see no.2 seeded Germany’s Angelique Kerber taking on no.5 seed Romanian Simona Halep. After some patchy performance in her last two matches, Kerber played dominantly against Russian teenager Daria Kasatkina and finished the match at 6-2, 6-2, taking less than 60 minutes. Halep started badly against another Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova and dropped the first set 3-6. Later, however, she produced a stirring comeback and ran through the
Simona Halep also reached the semifinals of women’s doubles, playing with compatriot Monica Niculescu. Halep/Niculescu upset no.2 seeds and French Open champions Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic in a close finish at 6-4, 3-6, 10-8. However, the top-seeded Indo-Swiss pair of Sania Mirza/Martina Hingis fell in the quarterfinals to USA’s Christina McHale/Asia Muhammad. Sania/Hingis didn’t play badly but were broken early in both sets and failed to make a comeback later. The American women kept the momentum and finished winners at 6-4, 6-3.
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