After the Wimbledon euphoria and Davis Cup quarterfinals, tennis’ next big event is the Rogers Cup at Toronto and Montreal. As per Tennis Canada’s policy of annual rotation of venues, men’s ATP event is being held in Toronto, while women will travel to Montreal this year. Though qualification rounds begin on July 23, the real action will commence on July 25 at both venues. But this year’s men’s event at Toronto will not see three of the Big-Fours. Defending champion Murray has pulled out earlier citing fatigue, which probably was also the reason why he didn’t play in Davis Cup quarterfinal against Serbia. Now Federer and Nadal have also announced their withdrawals from Rogers Cup. That has left a clear path for Novak Djokovic and his real challenge may come from local favorite Milos Raonic. ATP’s 2016 calendar, however, is still quite crowded and in the run up to Rogers Cup, four ATP tournaments are now being played. The Citi Open at Washington is an ATP-500 event, while three other ATP-250 tournaments are in progress at Umag, Croatia, Kitzbuhel, Austria and Gstaad, Switzerland. Many seeded players from these venues will arrive in Toronto before the start of the Rogers Cup.
Murray, Federer and Nadal have pulled out of next week’s Rogers Cup at Toronto. Murray said he was fatigued from too much tennis and Nadal’s wrist injury is only just healing up. Federer didn’t cite any reason but there is one compelling cause for the withdrawal of the Big-3. Rogers Cup concludes on July 31 and Rio Olympics begin on August 5. For those competing at Rio, preparation time will be vastly reduced, if they keep themselves at Toronto for an eight days. They will not admit this, but skipping Toronto for buying more time for the 2016 Summer Games at Brazil is a huge possibility. However, there are no withdrawals from women’s field at Montreal with Serena Williams itching for another title after her 22nd Grand Slam triumph at Wimbledon. Serena says playing in Rogers Cup is part of her Rio preparations. Many ATP players are also giving themselves plenty of work for Rio in Washington’s Citi Open, Umag’s Konzum Croatia Open, Kitzbuhel’s Generali Open and Gstaad’s J Safra Sarasin Swiss Open.
At ATP-500 Citi Open in Washington, Wednesday’s match involving Germany’s Alexander Zverev and USA’s Taylor Fritz provided a great spectacle of upcoming contests between two of modern tennis’ most promising Nextgen stars. The 19-year old Zvererv has already earned the limelight after he halted 8-time Halle champion Roger Federer at Gerry Weber Open last month. Against 18-year old Fritz, the German nullified 5 break points and convincing defeated the American 6-4, 6-2. After last week’s Emirates ATP rankings were announced, Zverev has emerged as the youngest player to break into the Top 30 since Rafael Nadal did so in 2005. In third round, Zverev takes on Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri, who had to work hard before beating the big-serving Kevin Anderson 5-7, 6-4, 7-6. Frenchman and second seed Gael Monfils recorded his first victory since May 2016 in beating Yen-Hsun Lu of Taiwan 6-3, 6-2. Monfils will face Croatia’s recent Davis Cup hero Borna Coric in third round. The Croat disposed of Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-4, 6-4. Top-seeded American John Isner scored a dominant 6-3, 6-4 win over Australia’s James Duckworth to set up a meeting with Cypriot veteran Marco Baghdatis. Isner played powerfully, sent down 14 aces in the match and won 35 points out of 38 on his first serve. Another American no.5 seed Steve Johnson also cruised to the third round with a 6-3 6-4 win over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Australia’s no.3 seed Bernard Tomic also advanced with a 7-6, 6-3 victory over USA’s Donald Young.
At Konzum Croatia Open at Umag, no.3 seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy entered the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Serbia’s Nikola Cacic. For a place in semifinals, Chardy must beat Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq, who came through, when his Czech opponent Jiri Vesely retired in the second set. Italian fourth seed Fabio Fognini also entered the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over another Argentinian Renzo Olivo. Fogini next faces Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur, who defeated Italian Thomas Fabbiano 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
In a shocking result at Generali Open Kitzbuhel, 35-year old Jurgen Melzer defeated the top seed and fellow Austrian Dominic Thiem, 6-3, 7-5. With this, the world no.421 Melzer, who had stopped playing 10 months ago due to a shoulder injury, made a triumphant comeback. The Austrian now faces his 26-year old brother Gerald Mulzer in quarterfinals. In another major upset, Germany’s defending champion Philipp Kohlschreiber lost 4-6, 4-6 against the Russian world No. 104 Karen Khachanov. The Russian now takes on Serbian sixth-seed Dusan Lajovic, who defeated Germany’s Mischa Zverev 6-4, 6-4. With the three top seeded players losing, the Kitzbuhel draw is wide open with fourth-seeded Italian Paolo Lorenzy as the highest ranked player remaining. On Wednesday, Lorenzy defeated Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena 6-2, 6-2. The Italian next takes on 8th-seeded German Jan-Lennard Struff, who beat another Spaniard Daniel Munoz de la Nava 7-5, 7-5.
At J Safra Sarasin Open in Gstaad, top-seeded Feliciano Lopez won against Czech Republic’s Jan Mertl after a fight in the first set. He finally prevailed 7-6, 6-4 to take on 20-year old Elias Ymer from Sweden. Ymer defeated Russia’s Konstantin Kravchuk 2-6, 7-6, 7-5 to make it to his first ever ATP quarterfinal. Another Spaniard Alber Ramos-Vinolas reached the quarterfinals by beating 23-year old Frenchman Tristan Lamasine 6-4, 6-2. Vinolas takes on compatriot Paul-Henri Mathieu, who defeated Swiss wild card Henri Laaksonen 6-1, 6-4.