Things are heating up at the ATP Canada Masters in Toronto with a full slate of Round of 32 matches in play Wednesday. With Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the event, there is a big opening for many players to break through and win the event. Two Masters champions are in action, Fabio Fognini and John Isner. The American is looking for a strong follow up after his title in Atlanta. Isner takes on Chilean Cristian Garin, who will hope to improve his game on hard courts, and Fognini faces Andrey Rublev, who is one of the favorites to capture his first Masters title.
Alex de Minaur bring his exciting brand of tennis to face Nikoloz Basilashvili, who has fought back from a tough few seasons to again be a dangerous player. Finally, Denis Shapovalov hopes to build off great results on grass against talented American Frances Tiafoe, who seems to be starting to find the game that made him a Top 30 player two years ago.
ATP Toronto Day 3 Predictions
John Isner vs Cristian Garin
Head-to-head: 2-0 Garin
Garin holds the surprising advantage against Isner in their previous matchups, considering they were both played on hard courts, one here in Canada in 2019. Garin has had a strong year, but the Chilean is a pure clay court specialist. He has contested just two matches on hard courts this year, losing both. Isner is great on hard courts, winning the Miami Masters, one of just two active Americans with a Masters title. He has been great in his two recent hard court tournaments, making the semis in Los Cabos and winning the title in Atlanta.
The American also convincingly beat the talented Spainiad Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round, securing four breaks which is encouraging for his weak return game. Garin has a good baseline game, but he will not have enough weapons to break Isner’s serve on the fast Canadian hard courts. Isner will win and with his serve is a dark horse contender for the title.
Prediction: Isner in 2
Alex de Minaur vs Nikoloz Basilashvili
Head-to-head: 1-0 de Minaur
Basilashvili will look to get revenge from their meeting early in the year in Antayla, won comfortably by de Minaur. The Georgian has been resurgent this year after some serious struggles, winning two titles, one on the hard courts in Doha over a challenging draw. De Minaur is not having quite the season he would have hoped for, but he has had strong moments, capturing two titles of his own.
Basilashvili had a strong Olympics, beating Lorenzo Sonego and putting up a good fight against eventual gold medalist Alexander Zverev. De Minaur is looking to forget an ugly loss in Atlanta against Steve Johnson and get back on track on hard courts. De Minaur is a great player and his defense will cause Basilashvili to struggle to put points away. That frustration will be the difference in what will surely be a close, competitive match.
Prediction: De Minaur in 3
Frances Tiafoe vs Denis Shapovalov
Head-to-head: 4-1 Shapovalov
Shapovalov has dominated their matchups, winning the last four, three of which came on hard courts. Tiafoe is hoping to break back into the Top 30 like in 2019, and has played better this year after having a couple poor seasons. Shapovalov does not have a great record on hard courts this year, though some of that can be attributed to challenging draws. The Canadian will look to build on a great grass court season, where he made the semifinal in both London and Wimbledon.
Tiafoe made the most of his lucky loser status after falling to Emil Ruusuvuori in qualifying, benefitting from a favorable matchup against Nishioka in the first round. Shapovalov’s game is well-suited for the fast hard courts in Canada, and he has had plenty of success in his home tournament, highlighted by his breakthrough semifinal appearance in Montreal as an 18-year-old. Shapovalov will outhit Tiafoe, and the American will not be able to get to Shapovalov’s serve enough to put a dent in his powerful game.
Prediction: Shapovalov in 2
Andrey Rublev vs Fabio Fognini
Head-to-head: 4-3 Fognini
Fognini leads their matchup, but Rublev has won both of their meetings this year, including a 6-1 6-2 thrashing in their last meeting on hard courts. Fognini should not be written off on hard courts. While it has been his career-worst surface, he has a winning record on it this year. He runs into an unfortunate matchup with Rublev, who has been excellent this year and is fourth in the race to Milan. Rublev is great on the hard court. He boasts a title, two semifinals, and a quarterfinal at the Australian Open on the surface in 2021. He plays with a lot of power and will take advantage of Fognini’s age and inability to match the Russian’s strength. Rublev will look to rebound from a first-round loss at the Olympics and will win in straightforward fashion.
Prediction: Rublev in 2
Main Photo from Getty.