Buckle up, tennis fans. This promises to be a wild Wednesday at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.
You won’t find a better line-up in the whole of the sport of tennis than what this day promises in Toronto, with Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro, Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Daniel Nestor and Felix Auger-Aliassime are all in action.
Let’s just call it Christmas in August.
In the evening session, all eyes will be on the World No.1 Nadal, who is back in Toronto for a first time in eight years. He missed Rogers Cup in 2012, 2014 and 2016 due to injury. A three-time champion of the event, Nadal’s only win in Toronto came 10 years ago, a victory that helped him reach No.1 for the first time thereafter. He opens his 2018 campaign with a challenge in the creative Frenchman Benoit Paire after a first-round bye.
Nadal has appeared confident and relaxed ahead of his opener of the summer’s US Open Series on the hard courts. He even had a round of golf Monday afternoon at the Rosedale Golf Club nearby.
While Paire is always a dangerous foe for whoever is across the net from him, Nadal hasn’t dropped a set in their three meetings, going seven out of seven played.
It’s a 6:30pm evening start for Nadal, though Djokovic will kick off the day in its entirety at 11am. Canadian hope Peter Polansky will try to make some sort of dent against the four-time champion in their second-round clash, though Djokovic looked in decisive form in his match Tuesday against Mirza Basic.
The Wimbledon champ hasn’t lost here since 2014.
Centre Court also includes a Canadian flavour to it on Wednesday: Milos Raonic is set to take on Frances Tiafoe in the second match of the afternoon session before Denis Shapovalov meets an in-form Fabio Fognini to follow.
And, Auger-Aliassime closes out the day: He plays after Nadal in the evening session, celebrating his 18th birthday with a match up versus fellow youngster Daniil Medvedev.
Canada has four players through to the second round for the first time since 2013, when five made it as far. Raonic leads the Canadian charge Wednesday when he meets the young American Tiafoe. For Shapovalov, he has a tough test in Fognini, who is coming off a win in Mexico at Los Cabos and has momentum on his side. It’s a first meeting between the two.
But the grounds pass ticket packs plenty of mean punch on this day of tennis magic, too. Del Potro, Zverev and Wawrinka all play there (read that twice!), as Thiem meets up-and-coming star Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nestor teams up with Vasek Pospisil in what is Daniel’s 30th and final Rogers Cup. They play Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez in what should be a scintillating doubles encounter.
As defending champ, Zverev, is coming in with momentum of his own, having won the title in Washington, D.C., last week. He had the same lead-in coming in a year ago, and said he spent time after an early loss at Wimbledon resting, strengthening and then working on his tennis.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to defend my title here,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
That’s a scary thought for the rest of the field, but a delightful one for all the fans. And it only adds intrigue to a day already brimming with it.
A Wednesday never looked so good.