Report from the ATP Rogers Cup Draw Ceremony Featuring Stan Wawrinka
Leich Sinha for Tennis Atlantic
The draw ceremony for the 2015 Rogers Cup was held early Friday evening at the 4 star Queen Elizabeth Hotel. World number 4 Stanislas Wawrinka was on hand to inaugurate the proceedings, which was followed by a brief Q&A with the reigning French Open Champion. The draw took place following the previous week’s news of the withdrawals of World number 2 Roger Federer, who cited scheduling issues as the prevailing cause of his absence, as well as top 10 stalwart David Ferrer, who is still hindered by an elbow injury.
The news bumped Japanese star Kei Nishikori to 4th seed, avoiding potentially dangerous quarterfinal matchups against former winners at this event Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. The latter pair, as top two seeds, were drawn in separate halves where they may respectively face Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals. Murray in particular will be looking to amend his hard court season after a shocking opening match loss to Teymuraz Gabashvili at the Citi Open.
Notes on the draw
A very intriguing matchup awaits three time champion Rafael Nadal, who is set to face Nishikori in the quarters. The two have not played each other since the Madrid Masters final in 2014 and this matchup may very well provide the clearest gauge as to where either of them stand amidst the very upper echelon of the game. A win for either would cement (or in Nadal’s case) reaffirm their status amongst the very elite and may fuel a deep run at the US open. In the last quarter, Milos Raonic is on a collision course with Stan Wawrinka. Raonic is coming off an injury plagued grass campaign and is looking to regain lost ground in the top 10.
Some interesting early round matchups should also take place, defending champion and 12th seed Jo Wilfried Tsonga will have a tough task ahead of him if he wants to repeat last year’s run in Toronto. He will face rising star Borna Coric in the first round and will potentially play against Marin Cilic in the round of 16, Murray in the quarters, Nadal/Nishikori and Djokovic in the final, he has his work cut out for him for sure.
Milos Raonic and Ivo Karlovic may just about club each other to death with serves should the Croatian prevail in his opening round match against Jerzy Janowicz. A potential 2nd round encounter between Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka, who has a poor record at this event, could finally be the right setup for the young Aussie to break through at the masters level.
The draw composition consisted of 64 players, of whom the top 8 seeds received first round byes while 44 others received direct acceptances on account of their ATP ranking. 4 Wild cards were given to Canadians Philip Bester, finalist at last week’s Granby Challenger, Canadian Davis cup mainstay Frank Dancevic, Vasek Popisil and two time junior grand slam champion Filip Peliwo. In addition, the tournament will feature 7 qualifiers who will be selected amongst the winners of the qualifying draw.
Stan Wawrinka Q&A
The draw ceremony featured a short Q&A session with a relaxed Stan Wawrinka in which he discussed his health, Roger Federer and the big four. Wawrinka revealed that he had spent 10 days treating a shoulder problem following his quarterfinal exit at Wimbledon. He followed that statement up by asserting that the problem was cleared up and that he had spent the last 3 weeks preparing for the hard court season with his coach Magnus Norman. He furthermore lamented Federer’s decision to withdraw from the event but understood that the Swiss great needed to pace himself in order to be fresh for the US open.
Wawrinka was adamant in squashing any comparisons to the big four, saying that the reality is “they’ve been dominant for the last 10 years, I’m just trying to improve and compete with them”. When asked of his potential 2nd round matchup against Kyrgios, he praised the youngster’s game and conceded that sometimes the nature of the draw is such that “sometimes you have to play good players in the early rounds.” As the only ATP player present at the ceremony, Wawrinka appeared unburdened and at ease throughout the session, taking pictures and warmly greeting tournament organizers.
Look for my reports on the qualifying rounds this weekend!