Day 3 Preview: Djokovic, Nadal Carry Form To Toronto
08 August 2018 02:40
Hours can be poured into injury rehabilitation, fitness and practice. But in a sport of such fine margins between the top contenders, Novak Djokovic knows better than most, it often boils down to one thing – mentality.
For eight years, the four-time Rogers Cup champion was comfortably entrenched in the upper echelon. But a torrid past 18 months gave the Serbian a new perspective.
He’d long stood at the pinnacle so when his return wasn’t gathering steam at quite the speed he had envisaged it would have been easy to lose heart. Doubts were raised whether the 31-year-old could once again win the biggest titles. Those doubts were silenced when he landed a fourth Wimbledon trophy last month.
“Confidence is a tricky thing,” Djokovic said. “It takes a lot of time to really get it, and it takes such a short time to lose it.
“I've had many times in my career situations where I have experienced that firsthand. And I think that kind of experience helped me in the whole process to really deal with all this, maybe daily struggles on the court that I had, and particularly for most of the clay court season and post-surgery in Indian Wells, Miami.
“But still, at the end of the day, there was a big part of me that trusted that eventually I'll get where I want to get to and I trusted the team… We are obviously very satisfied and content that that has happened. But at the same time, it's still a work in progress.”
If it is a work in progress his second-round opponent on Wednesday, Canadian wild card Peter Polansky, might be hoping the Serbian hasn’t improved any further since his Wimbledon triumph last month. Djokovic beat the 30-year-old in their lone prior FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter at the 2009 Rogers Cup.
Now ranked at No. 121, Polansky scored a straight-sets victory over Aussie Matthew Ebden in the first round but faces a huge step up. Seeded at No. 9, Djokovic missed out on the luxury of a first-round bye, but has his first hard-court match of the North American summer under his belt, a straight-sets victory over Mirza Basic on Tuesday.
Top seed Rafael Nadal will contest his first match since Wimbledon on Wednesday when he meets Frenchman Benoit Paire. The Spaniard is eager to put behind a narrow five-set defeat to Djokovic in the semi-finals at the All England Club last month as he turns his focus to Toronto.
The Spaniard is a master of bouncing back from defeat as he proved after suffering a third-round boilover against Denis Shapovalov at last year’s Rogers Cup in Montreal. Nadal went on to recapture the No. 1 ATP Ranking and the US Open a month later.
The three-time Rogers Cup champion has won all three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Paire. The French World No. 55 scored a convincing win over American Jared Donaldson first up.
After his good friend and fellow #NextGenATP Canadian, Shapovalov, made a stunning run to the semi-finals in Montreal in 2017, Felix Auger-Aliassime looked intent on emulating that success when he scored his first Top 20 win over Lucas Pouille on Tuesday.
There would be no better 18th birthday present on Wednesday than a victory over dangerous qualifier Daniil Medvedev. The 22-year-old has already won three straight matches in Toronto, having won through qualifying and taken down No. 13 seed Jack Sock in the first round. Auger-Aliassime and Medvedev have never met. . read full article