Rogers Cup 2019 Semifinal Preview: Nadal eyes new Masters 1000 record; Khachanov-Medvedev to do battle in all-Russian clash
The 2019 Coupe Rogers in Montreal is down to the last four stage.
Top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal survived a scare against his Monte Carlo conqueror Fabio Fognini, dropping the first set 2-6 before regrouping to win 12 of the last 15 games of the match, setting up a semifinal clash against either Roberto Bautista Agut or Gael Monfils whose quarterfinal clash was suspended after two points because of rain.
Victory for Bautista Agut over the Frenchman would seal a maiden top ten entry for the Spaniard.
Defeat against Fognini in the quarterfinals would have ended Nadal's two-year reign in the top two of the world rankings. The Spaniard needs to reach the final in Montreal to ensure that he is not usurped by Roger Federer at no. 2 next week.
Meanwhile, young Russian Daniil Medvedev made quick work of an out of sorts Dominic Thiem to romp into a second Masters 1000 semifinal where he'll be up against his good friend and compatriot Karen Khachanov who conquered Alexander Zverev in straight sets.
This will also ensure a first Russian finalist at the Coupe Rogers since Marat Safin triumphed in Toronto in 2000.
With Nadal looming in the semis, Bautista Agut or Monfils would have to turn up for double duty on Saturday in Montreal following the duo's rain-delayed quarterfinal on Friday.
With an underwhelming combined head to head record of 2-17 against the Spanish lefthander, will either player be able to thwart Nadal in the semis?
Nadal, on the other hand, will be looking to break a tie with Federer and reach a record 51st Masters 1000 final.
Semifinal #1: (1) Rafael Nadal vs (10) Roberto Bautista Agut / (16) Gael Monfils
Top seed Nadal recovered from the loss of the first set to beat Fognini 2-6 6-1 6-2 in the Montreal quarterfinals on Friday, in the process avenging his Monte Carlo semifinal defeat against the Italian earlier in the season.
Two wins away from a first successful hardcourt title defence, Nadal needs to reach the Montreal title match to hold on to his no. 2 ranking.
In the last four, the Spaniard awaits the winner of the rain-delayed quarterfinal between Bautista Agut and Monfils after their match was suspended due to rain with just two points being played.
Bautista Agut, fresh off a maiden Grand Slam semifinal at 2019 Wimbledon, needs to beat Monfils to make his top ten debut in the world rankings.
With imposing head to head records of 3-0 and 14-2 against his compatriot Bautista Agut and Monfils respectively, Nadal would be a massive favourite to reach a record 51st Masters 1000 final which would break a tie with Federer for most finals at this level.
Will Nadal make history in Montreal for the second time this week (3rd round win over Pella was his record 379th Masters 1000 win) or will one of Bautista Agut or Monfils win two matches on Saturday and thwart the 34-time Masters 1000 champion? We will just have to wait and see.
Semifinal #2: (6) Karen Khachanov vs (8) Daniil Medvedev
Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev booked a first-ever all-Russian semifinal at the Coupe Rogers, with victories over Sascha Zverev and Dominic Thiem respectively.
The match-up ensures a first Russian finalist at the Coupe Rogers since Marat Safin won the Toronto title in 2000.
Khachanov has had the tougher run to the last four, needing successive three-set tussles to get past Stan Wawrinka and Felix Auger-Aliassime en route to the quarterfinals where he beat Sascha Zverev in straight sets.
Medvedev, by contrast, is yet to drop a set in three matches on his way to the semis. He is by far in better form, having won 12 of his previous 15 matches which includes a run to the Washington DC final last week (lost to Nick Kyrgios).
The young compatriots and good friends are tied at 1-1 in their head to head. Victory for Medvedev would propel him to a first career Masters 1000 final. A win for Khachanov, on the other hand, would mark a first Masters 1000 final since a maiden title at this level at 2018 Paris-Bercy.