Thiem keen to break Canadian duck
Montreal Masters second seed Dominic Thiem remained confident on Monday that he is in position to win a first ATP match in Canada after five career defeats. “Oh-and-five is a shocking stat,” acknowledged the Austrian of his record of futility in Canada. And Thiem, winner of the claycourt title in Kitzbuehel on Saturday, will face a tough second-round opener against Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who powered past France’s Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 7-5 in 90 minutes.
Shapovalov, who shocked Rafael Nadal in the third round two years ago on the way to a precocious semi-final appearance, reveled in his return to the scene of that victory. “It’s amazing to be taking this all in,” Shapovalov said. “I knew this would be a tricky match, but I was confident coming onto court. “I have great memories from here, I’ve always wanted to come back and I was pumped.” In Thiem he’ll be facing another player full of confidence.
The Austrian’s victory on home soil in Kitzbuehel was his third title of the season after his hardcourt triumph at Indian Wells in March and a win in Barcelona -- where he beat Nadal in the semi-finals. “It was such an emotional week, four matches in front of a sold-out Austrian crowd with my first title on home soil,” Thiem said of his Kitzbuehel run. “It was not the biggest title of my career, but probably the most beautiful one.
“I couldn’t come here with more confidence,” Thiem added. “It’s not going to be easy with the switch from clay to hard court in only three days and with a very tough first opponent. “I really like the way I’m playing right now, so we’ll see.” Canada’s Milos Raonic joined compatriot Shapovalov in the second round with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over France’s Lucas Pouille -- who beat Raonic in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open before falling in the semis.
Raonic fired 16 aces compared to two for Pouille. “In these kind of matches, it’s only about return and serve,” Pouille said. “When he’s serving like this, something like 70 percent first serve -- he’s really tough to read and to return. “It was difficult, but I knew it would be like this against Milos.”