The ATP Masters 1000 event in Toronto continues on Day 3, though without Rafael Nadal. Still, there’s plenty of great tennis to be played in Canada on Wednesday. Who do you think will win?
ATP Toronto Day 3 Predictions
Dusan Lajovic vs Felix Auger-Aliassime
Head-to-head: Lajovic 1-0 Auger-Aliassime
Dusan Lajovic had a forgettable clay season, having a win-loss record of 6-11. He will look to turn it around here at the Toronto hard courts. After the Australian Open earlier this year, Lajovic does not have any exceptional results. Felix Auger-Aliassime hired coach Toni Nadal for his clay preparation, but ended up crashing out in the first round at the French Open. However, he gave wonderful results on grass, as he has very good showings at Stuttgart ATP and Halle ATP before Wimbledon. On hard courts, his best performance was the fourth round at both 2021 Australian Open and 2020 Us Open.
Lajovic has won their only meeting to date, and this match will give Auger-Aliassime a chance to get level. They first played at the 2020 ATP Cup playoffs, where Lajovic thrashed his opponent. A year and a half later, Auger-Aliassime has risen through the rankings and is being projected as a next-gen sensation. Lajovic’s backhand was too much for him to handle that day. However, times have changed, and he has become the better player now. The only question remains, will Lajovic give a fight and manage to grab a set. I reckon he will do, but Auger-Aliassime will win the match.
Prediction: Auger-Aliassime in 3
Aslan Karatsev vs Karen Khachanov
Head-to-head: Karatsev 1-3 Khachanov
Friends and fellow countrymen off the court, Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev meet for the fifth time in a match. Khachanov is regarded as a fine player on hard courts for a long time now, which he justified with his Olympic Silver Medal. It will be seen if he can continue his hot form. Aslan Karatsev started his 2021 season with eight back-to-back wins, sprinting past the qualification rounds of the Australian Open before making the semifinal. He backed up the performance by winning his first ATP title in Dubai. Let’s see if he has more firepower left in the tank.
The pair have contested four duels before this match, and Khachanov has the upper hand. Still, all of their matches have come at a time when Karatsev was a nobody. Right now, Karatsev has gained celebrity status, and is even ranked higher than Khachanov. Karatsev, seeded 15th, got a first-round bye, whereas Khachanov had to grind it against Cameron Norrie in the first round. Both of them have similar game-styles, relying more on power to blast the ball. In a match where both players have a similar skill set, the one who hangs on will get the prize. But considering Khachanov’s performance at the Olympics and current form, it seems likely that he will progress to the round of 32.
Prediction: Khachanov in 3
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Tommy Paul
Head-to-head: Bautista Agut 2-0 Paul
Roberto Bautista Agut did well at the Miami Open, making the semifinals. In the process, he defeated big server John Isner and Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev. Still, he is coming into the match from three consecutive losses, two of them on clay. At 33 years of age, his fitness is not at par with what it used to be. Tommy Paul, the 24-year-old from USA is slowly getting used to the ATP Tour. He passed through the qualifying rounds here with ease and then went on to defeat Vasek Pospisil.
Bautista Agut and Paul have played two matches before. Bautista Agut won both matches convincingly in straight sets. Although both of his wins have come on clay, he should sneak away another win, a first on a hard court. Paul has back-to-back wins against Alexander Bublik and Lorenzo Sonego on hard courts. He defeated local favorite Pospisil in a hard-fought first-round match. It is evident from the results that Paul will fight hard for a win, though it seems unlikely that he will get it.
Prediction: Bautista Agut in 3
Kei Nishikori vs Hubert Hurkacz
Head-to-head: Nishikori 0-2 Hurkacz
Kei Nishikori is having a second wind of sorts. He had an impressive showing at the Olympics, where he upset Andrey Rublev in two sets. He then had a dream run to the semifinals at the Citi open a few days back. Nishikori will try to extend his run as much as he can. Hubert Hurkacz has a Masters 1000 title to his name already, which many of the so-called next-gen greats do not. He won the Miami Masters in April, defeating Shapovalov, Raonic, Tsitsipas, Rublev, and Sinner in a single tournament. Consequently, Hurkacz qualifies as one of the contenders for the title here.
Hurkacz would have been the clear favorite if Nishikori hadn’t hit a golden patch the way he has right now. Nishikori looks like a man on a mission, and though his ranking has slipped, he plays at the level of being in the Top-30. On the other hand, Hurkacz is unstoppable on hard courts if he plays like he did at the Miami Open. Hurkacz and Nishikori have played two matches, both in 2019. Hurkacz won both the matches in deciding sets. Two years down the line, we expect a similar result.
Prediction: Hurkacz in 3
Main Photo from Getty.