When the main draw of Rogers Cup 2017 was decided on Friday, there was a match at the bottom that drew particular attention: the clash between Canadians Vasek Pospisil and Peter Polansky.
Some will say that a showdown between two local players so early on is unfortunate because only one will see the next round, but optimists will tell you that the draw guarantees that there will be at least two Canadians in the second draw, since sixth-seed Milos Raonic has a bye.
“It’s never easy for either of them to play a buddy,” affirmed Louis Borfiga, who oversees high performance athlete development at Tennis Canada. “It should be a pretty emotional match. Vasek will likely be the favourite, so there will be a bit more pressure on him.”
“When compatriots play each other at home, it’s always difficult because the lower ranked player has something to prove,” explained Rogers Cup tournament director Eugène Lapierre. “Polansky will leave it all on the court, especially since he’s very confident right now after reaching three consecutive Challenger finals. I saw him play in Granby last week and he just exudes confidence. […] I’ll be in the stands for the match for sure.”
In the second round, not only are we sure to see two Canadians but the winner of the Pospisil-Polansky match will face Roger Federer of Switzerland. That’s good news for tournament organizers and tennis fans.
“It’s also Federer’s first match, which should be on Wednesday,” mentioned Lapierre. “And it will be against a Canadian. It should be very interesting.”
In the second round, Raonic will take on either Adrian Mannarino of France or Daniil Medvedev of Russia, and the young Canadian Brayden Schnur is up against world no.29 Richard Gasquet of France.
“Against Richard Gasquet, Schnur is facing a solid player. So I think that he should use the match as good experience for the future,” said Borfiga. “In tennis, you have to believe that anything is possible, but it’s still a major challenge for him. It won’t be an easy one.”
Denis Shapovalov, another rising star in Canadian tennis, may appear to have an easier draw since he plays a qualifier but Borfiga actually believes quite the opposite.
“For coaches, it’s the worst thing. A qualifier is not a good draw. It’s better to encounter someone who’s playing a first match than a player who’s got two wins and is used to the court,” he stated. “ It’s never a good draw when you face a qualifier, especially in a tournament as competitive as this one with tough qualifying matches. People think it’s easy to play a qualifier but it’s not.”
The first round battle between veterans John Isner and Juan Martin del Potro, which fans are more accustomed to seeing in the latter stages of tournaments, also promises to be thrilling.
“There are a lot of first-round matches that would be finals in any other event of the year,” said Borfiga “There’s Isner-del Potro and also Mueller-Querrey—two players who have really been on top of their games in recent months—and a very, very interesting match between Gaël Monfils and Steve Johnson. Some of the first-round duels are really incredible.”
Lapierre qualified the 2017 Rogers Cup as a clash of generations in reference to the huge comebacks by the two first seeds Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and the meteoric rises by the third and fourth seeds Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev.
Borfiga is very excited about the tennis that the young guns are playing.
“People must see Zverev and Thiem,” he affirmed. “They truly are the new generation. They play fine games and have great personalities and could surprise everyone here. They’re the ones to watch.”