A Breakthrough Win By Foki Over Ruud Lifts Him Into Toronto Quarterfinals

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (photo:Tyler Anderson/Tennis Canada)

TORONTO/WASHINGTON, August 11, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

While top seeds Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev headlined third-round action at the National Bank Open Presented by Rogers in Toronto on Thursday, there were plenty of other matches on the order of play to whet the appetite of tennis fans who flocked to Sobeys Stadium and early in the day rode out a 93-minute rain delay.

For instance, 37th-ranked Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina earned his fifth career Top 10 win after going 4-21 lifetime by stunning World No. 5 and third seed Casper Ruud of Norway, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (4), to start the day on the Grandstand Court.

Davidovich Fokina and Ruud were meeting for the third time (tied 1-1) and Foki was looking for his first Top 10 win on hard courts after going 0-11. The 24-year-old from Malaga struck 58 winners and came on strong at the end of the three-hour, five-minute match to reach his fourth career Masters 1000 quarterfinal and second this season. The loss prevented Ruud from achieving his 200th career tour-level win.

I kept very focused on every point,” Davidovich Fokina said in his on-court interview. “He had to serve to close out the match, but I was focused on every point to be there and not give up. It was very tough. We played long rallies, with a lot of pressure. When I broke for 4-5, it was a show of power to finish the match.”

Meanwhile, Davidovich Fokina’s quarterfinal opponent will be No. 59 Mackenzie McDonald of the United States, who ended the run of 545th-ranked Canadian wild card Milos Raonic, 6-3, 6-3, in 68 minutes on Center Court. Raonic, who strung together back-to-back wins over World No. 10 Frances Tiafoe of the United States and Japan’s Taro Daniel in his return to the ATP Tour after missing the last two years due to injuries, was unable to play with the same intensity he had in his first two matches.

McDonald reached his sixth tour-level quarterfinal – and first at 1000 level – following earlier wins this week against a pair of Russians, Aslan Karatsev and World No. 7 Andrey Rublev, by saving both break points he faced and outpointed Raonic 62-45. He lost his only previous match against Davidovich Fokina in three sets at Stockholm in 2021.

Alcaraz rallies past Hurkacz, winning streak now 14 straight

World No. 1 and top seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain fought through a slow start against 15th seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in his third-round featured match on Center Court Wednesday night.

By the dramatic ending after two hours and 38 minutes, in which Alcaraz twice served for the match in the final set before closing it out, it was the young 20-year-old Spaniard who prevailed, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3), to reach the quarterfinal round. The victory, his Tour-best 49th of the season, extended his winning streak to 14 matches going back to the start of Queen’s Club in June.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what happened,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview. “I started feeling bad at that moment. I couldn’t feel the right way in my shots. I didn’t know what happened. But what I was thinking was to stay calm, try to find a way to overcome the problems and find the good feeling again. I think at 5-6 serving, I started to feel better.

“The big players have that feeling to find a way to stay alive and try to end the match playing well.”

On Friday, Alcaraz will face No. 12 seed Tommy Paul of the United States, who advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over 70th-ranked American qualifier Marcos Giron.

Medvedev beats Musetti for 48th victory of the season

No. 2 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia overcame the wind and No.19 Lorenzo Mussetti to win 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 33 minutes in their first career meeting. It was Medvedev’s ATP Tour-leading 31st hard-court victory of the season and 22nd in Masters 1000 play as he chases after his third 1000-level title of the season to go with earlier ones won in Miami and Rome. It was the Italian Musetti’s 16th career loss to a Top 10 player.

“It wasn’t easy to play for balls today; it was quite windy out,” Medvedev, the 2021 champion, said in an on-court interview with ATP Media following his ninth career win in Toronto. “It wasn’t the windiest conditions I have ever played in, but the wind was a little bit strange. Sometimes, it would be faster. Sometimes, it would be slower. You didn’t always know what to expect. … I’m happy I managed to serve better, to return better, to run better. It was good enough to win.”

With his 48th victory of the season, Medvedev will face No. 18 Alex de Minaur of Australia, who fought off No. 8 seed Taylor Fritz of the United States, 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-1, to reach his first quarterfinal in Canada and first Masters 1000 quarterfinal. De Minaur benefited from 55 unforced errors by Fritz. He outpointed the American No. 1 (ranked No. 9), 108-97. It was the sixth win for the Australian in his last seven matches going back to his run to the finals at Los Cabos.

“It feels great to finally break that barrier,” de Minaur said about reaching the quarterfinals of a Masters 1000 for the first time. “It’s just a never-say-die attitude. It doesn’t matter what the score is. I’m always going to fight until the end. Being able to compete and stay positive got me into the match. I knew even if I lost that set I’d be in the match and playing a lot better.”

Monfils continues his magical run

France’s Gaël Monfils reached his first tour-level quarterfinal since last year’s Australian Open with his 6-4, 6-4 win over 62nd-ranked Australian lucky loser Aleksandar Vukic. The victory by the 276th-ranked Frenchman, who used a prior ranking for direct entry, has reached 18 career ATP Masters 1000 quarterfinals, the last one two years ago in Toronto. Vukic, a finalist two weeks ago at the Atlanta Open, earlier knocked of two Top 40 opponents, No. 15 Borna Coric of Croatia and No. 32 Sebastian Korda of the United States.

Next, Monfils will face World No. 8 and seventh seed Jannik Sinner of Italy after No. 40 Andy Murray of Great Britain withdrew with an abdominal strain.

In a statement from Murray released by the tournament, he said: “I had a very similar issue last year in the tournament in Stuttgart before Wimbledon which forced me to miss the Queen’s Club tournament and I was able to play Wimbledon. It took me about 10 to 12 days before I was feeling good again.

“This is not as bad as that but obviously the danger if you compete and play on it is you make it worse. So, I’ll need to see how it develops over the coming days and hopefully feel better in a few days. I’m really sorry. Thank you.”

By the numbers

Daniil Medvedev leads the ATP Tour with the most hard-court wins (31-3) and ATP Masters 1000 wins (22-3) this season. Plus, four of his five titles this season have come on hard courts (Rotterdam, Doha, Dubai and Miami).

“Quotable …”

“I’ve played with a lot of guys who are Top 10 in the world. So, I knew that I can do it. I knew that the level is there. But the margins are small and you never know when that break is going to happen. So, you always have to be there.”

– Unseeded Marcos Giron of the United States, following his 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 upset of World No. 6 Holger Rune in Wednesday night’s second round.