It was a good thing to be a seeded player on Saturday in the first round of qualifying at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.
Ten out of 13 seeds advanced to round two, which will determine the seven spots to be filled in the main draw. Qualifying wraps up Sunday, with main draw play underway on Monday.
Veteran Radek Stepanek, once ranked as high as No. 8 in the world, held off a spirited challenge from Canadian Brayden Schnur, the No. 2 seed winning 6-4, 7-6(6). Stepanek, 37, is seeking his 12th main draw appearance in Canada, and continues to make his way back from a lower back injury in 2014.
No. 3 Tim Smyczek was a winner, as were fellow American seeds Dennis Novikov, Austin Krajicek, Jared Donaldson (pictured above) and Ryan Harrison. No. 7 seed Vincent Millot of France was the highest player to fall, who lost to Amir Weintraub 7-6(5), 6-2.
Canada’s Philip Bester is a match away from the main draw after No. 1 seed Yuichi Sugita was given a spot in the main draw following a withdrawal there. Bester beat fellow Canadian Kelsey Stevenson, an alternate, and now meets Alejandro Gonzalez, the No. 12 seed, for that spot in the main draw.
James McGee of Ireland registered one of the few upsets on the day, winning in three sets over No. 10 Sam Groth 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. That was one of only two three-set matches played out on Saturday, Novikov coming from a set down to beat Alejandro Falla 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Australia’s Matthew Barton was another seed to go down, victim to Emilio Gomez 7-6(3), 7-5.
Smyczek and McGee will be a match to keep your eye on Sunday, as will No. 6 seed Mischa Zverev’s battle against the American Harrison. James Duckworth, who took out Canadian teen Felix Auger-Aliassime, will take on Novikov.
Play is set for a 10 AM start on Sunday morning, as Pizzaville Free Community Weekend continues at Rogers Cup, with activities for the entire family. Fans on site are welcomed into Centre Court to watch top stars practice, as well.