16, that’s the number of match points saved this week in Montreal at the 2017 Rogers Cup by eventual ATP match winners, and we haven’t even started the quarterfinals yet. The tennis this week at the Rogers Cup has sizzled, with some of the best high pressure points on tour this season played in just a few matches this week in Montreal.
On Tuesday Diego Schwartzman, a current quarterfinalist, saved four match points to earn the win of his career against Dominic Thiem, who had at least one match point in three straight games of the third set, before dropping it 7-5 as he got extremely tight under pressure, the undersized Schwartzman swinging freely.
Also on Tuesday, young gun Denis Shapovalov, who would later go on to stun Rafael Nadal in the round of 16 for the win of his promising career, would save four match points in a second set tiebreak against journeyman Rogerio Dutra Silva, before prevailing in a close three setter.
on Wednesday Gael Monfils pulled some memorable magic to save four consecutive match points in a third set tiebreak against Japanese #1 Kei Nishikori, but just a day later it would come back to bite him as current quarterfinalist Roberto Bautista Agut saved a match point against Monfils and win on to win the match in three tight sets of baseline battles.
We also can’t forget Washington D.C. champion Alexander Zverev, his opponent in the second round, veteran Richard Gasquet, was battling a back injury, but nearly snapped Zverev’s winning streak as he had three break points in the third set with Zverev serving 5-6. The young German dialed up his serve and showed why he’s a top contender in the Race to London by saving them all, going on to win in the next round to make at least the quarterfinals. Zverev won a 49 shot rally on one of the match points, in one of the most breathtaking single points on the ATP tour this year.
I’m not sure the ATP tournament record for matches where the eventual winner saved at least one match point, but surely five matches featuring winners who were nearly losers is coming close to some kind of a record. It’s even more remarkable that this is happening at a Masters 1000 tournament, the highest level on the men’s tour, and with the exception of Shapovalov against Dutra Silva, these matches feature top ATP players who are used to the big stage and typically know how to go for the kill. In the case of most of the match point chances, the player with the match point didn’t crumble, but rather his opposition went for the lines and came up with an untouchable shot.
Beyond the magic of Monfils and Bautista Agut, the rising Schwartzman, Zverev, and of course the talk of Canada, Shapovalov deserve tremendous credit for rising up and showing maturity well beyond their years when facing a possible defeat. So many ATP players of all ages crumble or give up under the pressure of facing a match point, but they rose up like giants, showing us some incredible tennis, and bringing excitement to the 2017 Rogers Cup matches this week.