It has been a strong start for Canadian tennis players Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ontario and Denis Shapovalov of Toronto, Ontario at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Both Raonic and Shapovalov are in the second round of the last ATP Masters 1000 Series event this summer after convincing first round wins.
Raonic defeated Dusan Lajovic of Serbia quite handily 6-3, 6-3 in straight sets on Tuesday, while Shapovalov beat American Frances Tiafoe 7-6, 3-6, 7-5 in three gruelling sets on Monday. The draw was expected to be difficult for Raonic because his next opponent was to be French Open and Rogers Cup champion Rafael Nadal of Spain. However, it ended up getting easier because Nadal decided to pull out of Cincinnati to rest for the U.S. Open at the end of the month.
Raonic’s second round opponent will now be Malek Jaziri of Tunisia, who as a lucky loser, gets a huge break as he gets to go directly to the second round as Nadal’s replacement in the draw. But why should a 60th ranked player in the world be given that opportunity when the first round byes are initially given to the top eight seeds?
In my opinion, if tennis events continue to give byes to the top eight players in the draw, then if a top eight player pulls out before his or her second round match, they should not be replaced by anyone in the draw. Players such as Raonic this week in Cincinnati and Robin Haase of the Netherlands last week in Toronto should have gone directly from the first to the third round after their first round victory. Instead, Jaziri and Mikhail Youzhny of Russia (last week on the Rogers Cup) get a significantly unfair advantage by going from not qualifying at all to the second round.