In his first match after his riveting Wimbledon semi-final encounter against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal had to work hard against the unseeded Brit Dan Evans in his Round of 32 clash at the Montreal Masters. In the first set, the Spaniard faced two set points but recovered well enough to win the rain-affected match in straight-sets 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 and will now face Argentina’s Guido Pella in their Round of 16 clash.
Pella, who had a dream run at Wimbledon this year having made the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam Major for the first time ever in his career, has started his campaign in the lead up to the US Open on a positive note too.
After bowing out to countryman Diego Schwartzman in the semi-finals at Los Cabos Open, the tournament that preceded the Rogers Cup, the Argentine played good tennis in his opening couple of rounds against David Goffin and Radu Albot and will now face his biggest test at the Rogers Cup so far in the form of Rafael Nadal.
On the ATP tour, the two southpaws have faced each other thrice thus far, with the Spaniard winning on all the three occasions. Interestingly, let alone winning, Pella is yet to win a set against the 18-time Grand Slam champion. However, in their most recent encounter at Monte Carlo Masters earlier this year, their tussle was quite close than what the scorecard suggests.
In their only contest on hard courts so far, the Spaniard comprehensively won against his fellow southpaw 6-3, 6-2 at the Indian Wells Masters 1000 event back in 2017.
Nadal, who struggled for rhythm in his opening round match against Evans, would hope for a much-improved performance against Pella in a bid to stay in the hunt to achieve his 5th title win at the Canadian Masters.
On the other hand, Pella, who got a new lease of life since his heroics at the Wimbledon this season would look forward to continuing his ways and would fancy achieving perhaps one of the biggest wins of his career, as he prepares himself to face the No.1 seeded Nadal in his upcoming encounter at Montreal.
The Spaniard, who is chasing his 35th Masters 1000 title at Rogers Cup, with his win over Evans has now tied Federer’s tally of 378 victories at the Masters 1000 level events and is aiming to register his record 379th match win when he faces Pella in his upcoming Round of 16 encounter.
In an interesting Round of 16 battle between two southpaws, can Pella sprung a surprise to stun the defending champion or will we experience the unfolding of the familiar story of Nadal’s dominance?
The Centre Court at Montreal will have all the answers.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in straight sets.