Some days on a tennis court, dreams do come true.
On Monday it was those of three unsuspecting Canadian wild cards, who each triumphed unexpectedly on the first day of Rogers Cup main draw play. Denis Shapovalov, Steven Diez and Peter Polansky captured shock wins in the first round and joined compatriot Milos Raonic in the round of 32.
Shapovalov’s was the most gripping, a three-set tussle in which the 17-year-old came out on top 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3 over No. 11 seed Nick Kyrgios in a night match on Centre Court, his first-ever ATP World Tour Masters 1000 match – not to mention first ATP tour-level win of any kind.
As an electric Centre Court roared, a floored Shapovalov thanked them in his post-match interview and then said, stumbling: “I’ll see you, um, in the next round.”
Yes, Denis, you will.
Earlier in the day, 25-year-old Diez, ranked No. 190 in the world, came from a set down to shock world No. 84 Kyle Edmund 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Court 1. In the next match, Polansky, ranked No. 174, also came from behind for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 win over higher-ranked Tim Smyczek.
What else happened around the grounds on Monday in Toronto? Let’s find out.
Milos Raonic had a surprise sparring partner at the end of his practice session with fellow Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, as Sir Richard Branson – a guest at the tournament Monday – walked on court for a hit with the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon finalist.
Raonic donned a wooden racquet for the start, Branson playing along by grabbing an umbrella to shade him from the heat, and from on-coming Raonic service missiles.
“That was out, right?” Branson asked onlookers courtside as one Raonic ball floated over the baseline. The business tycoon who is a longtime fan of the sport had quite the arsenal: a whipping forehand and a rather steady one-handed backhand. The two greeted one another happily at the net, however, Branson wishing Raonic best for his Rogers Cup campaign.
The doubles draw at Rogers Cup is no doubt stacked, with the Bryan brothers, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, John Isner, Kyrgios, Marin Cilic and more taking part. Monday afternoon Dimitrov and Wawrinka paired up for a comeback win, victors over Lucas Pouille and Dominic Thiem in the first round.
Tomas Berdych teamed with countryman Radek Stepanek to win on Monday, as well, with Djokovic on the bill for a Tuesday match alongside fellow Serb Nenad Zimonjic.
Canada has quite the contingent, too, with Vasek Pospisil pairing with Daniel Nestor and teenagers Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov playing together. Additionally, doubles specialist Adil Shamasdin is teaming up with Philip Bester.
It was a workday Monday for a fair amount of matches on court, including Borna Coric’s two-hour, 23-minute win over countryman Ivan Dodig, Dimitrov’s back-from-the-brink win over Yuichi Sugita and John Isner’s three-set win over Dudi Sela.
Diez, Polansky and Shapovalov all won in three sets, as well.
What a day, eh, for the homegrown Canadians.
For Diez and Shapovalov, it was a first-ever wins in an ATP World Tour main draw. And Polansky won for the first time on tour since Rogers Cup in 2014, when he beat Jerzy Janowicz in the first round only to fall to Roger Federer thereafter.
Frank Dancevic, another Canadian wild card, put up a valiant fight against Sam Querrey, falling 7-6(5), 6-4 in the final match of the day.
Next up for Shapovalov is a marquee matchup against Dimitrov, while Diez meets No. 12 seed Bernard Tomic and Polansky will play either No. 14 seed Benoit Paire or qualifier Radek Stepanek, who face off on Tuesday.