2013 ATP Montreal Rogers Cup Preview
Most of the big names will be back in action this week as they begin the drive towards the US Open. For some, like Murray, Nadal and Djokovic, it is their first time in match play since Wimbledon. The Rogers Cup men’s edition is in Montreal this year, as it alternates between Montreal and Toronto on a yearly basis along with the WTA edition. Tennis East Coast is very pleased to have some coverage of the early part of the week with our own Courtney Massey roving the grounds.
Rogers Cup/Coupe Rogers
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
August 5-August 11, 2013
Prize Money: $2,887,085
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes)
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Andy Murray
3: David Ferrer
4: Rafael Nadal
5: Tomas Berdych
6: Juan Martin Del Potro
7: Richard Gasquet
8: Stanislas Wawrinka
Roger Federer has struggled, and for personal and health reasons chose to skip this event. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is also missing from the field with a knee injury, but 8 of the top 10 are participating. Other notable withdrawals include Gael Monfils and Mardy Fish.
First round matchups to watch:
Jarkko Nieminen vs. (wc)Filip Peliwo
Nieminen comes off a lengthy layoff since Wimbledon, and though he should be happy to return to hard courts, his form has not been the best recently. Peliwo is a 19 year old rising Canadian who has done very well: first at futures and now at the challenger level this year. He is ranked 353 and still has a long way to go, but local organizers gave him a wild card and he will actually have an outsiders shot at an upset here. Peliwo had an amazing 2012 before turning pro, making all 4 junior Grand Slam finals and winning 2 of them (The Junior US Open and Junior Wimbledon). He was also the world #1 junior during that period.
Benoit Paire vs. Phillip Kohlschreiber
Kohli is 2-1 career against Paire with all three of their meetings on hardcourts. They played a memorable five-setter at the US Open last year, while Paire beat Peppo in straights at Indian Wells this year. Paire comes off injury, while Kohli will be adjusting to hard courts off of clay. The quality may be reduced, but expect some drama.
John Isner vs. (wc)Vasek Pospisil
Isner is coming off the DC final, after winning Atlanta the week before and playing Newport before that. Such a whirlwind schedule, paired with his propensity to play deep sets and lots of tiebreaks could very well wear the top ranked American down. He gets Pospisil, who has been on the other side of Canada, in Vancouver, where he is currently in the final and perhaps will also be tired. He will still be on his home turf. The career h2h is 1-all, with both meetings coming on hard courts, and Isner beat Vashy in 3 sets in San Jose this year. I think Isner survives but tiebreaks may be in order again. Perhaps three of them.
(11)Milos Raonic vs. Jeremy Chardy
Raonic has been atrocious as of late, and as the big Canadian hope, he would hate to trip up early against Chardy, who has also been poor recently, both are lanky solid servers, and because Montreal is in French Canada, the Frenchman Chardy should also have a decent cheering section. I expect Raonic to get through, but he could have trouble.
(13)Fabio Fognini vs. Marcos Baghdatis
A tale of two totally different years for Forza and Baggy. Fognini has had a career year and now looks to take that quality play to hardcourts. Baghdatis has had a terrible year but somehow found form in DC, where he beat Lukas Lacko and amazingly upset Kei Nishikori before losing to John Isner in 3 sets (like so many others). Most things point to Fognini here, but if Baghdatis can go against the odds and continue his decent play, he could win this. Fognini won two clay court meetings last year, but Baghdatis won their (indoor) hard court meeting.
Ernests Gulbis vs. Feliciano Lopez
Gulbis is 3-1 against Lopez in his career and routined the Spaniard at Indian Wells this year. That being said, while both are inconsistent, Lopez has been a tad bit better. This could again go either way, and with such unpredictable players, this could be a tremendous match or someone could be served baked goods.
Novak Djokovic looks for his 3rd straight Rogers Cup title, facing the winner of Bernard Tomic/Florian Mayer in his first match. Djoker could meet Nieminen/Peliwo or Denis Istomin/Janko Tipsarevic in Round 3. Istomin has been decent enough recently and expect him to “upset” the way-out-of-form Tipsarevic, who actually gave Djokovic a solid match at the Rogers Cup last year.
Richard Gasquet has final points to defend here, and he will return to hard courts against Martin Klizan/Thomaz Bellucci. If Gasquet wins that he could meet Kei Nishikori, a qualifier, or Andreas Seppi/Lukas Rosol in Round 3. Rosol, with his style of play, would be expected to do well on North American hard courts, but he has been very poor in recent tournaments.
Rafa Nadal is back, facing Jesse Levine or Xaiver Malisse. He could also see Jerzy Janowicz, who is also back on tour this week, if JJ can take out Julien Benneteau and then Frank Dancevic or a qualifier.
Stan Wawrinka will hopefully be recovered from his back troubles. He will play the Kohlischreiber/Paire winner in a much anticipated Round 2 match, and then Tommy Haas, a DC semifinalist, or one of three qualifiers. This is a rough and tumble section.
Andy Murray faces Grigor Dimitrov for the third time this year, if Grisha can beat Marcel Granollers (who is coming off the Kitzbuhel clay court title). Murray won the previous two meetings, both on hardcourts, and should move on to face Fognini/Baghdatis or Gulbis/Lopez. There, he will again face a solid enough opponent, but probably not someone who can beat him.
DC Champ Del Potro will face Ivan Dodig or Grega Zemlja before dueling with Mikhail Youzhny/Jurgen Melzer or Chardy/Raonic. Del Po should be good enough to win his first two matches. Melzer lost in the opening round of the Kitzbuhel clay event.
Ferrer in MTL
David Ferrer gets Michael Llodra or a qualifier before a face-off with a qualifier/Pablo Andujar or Gilles Simon/Nikolay Davydenko. Everyone in Ferrer’s section at the start is in terrible form, meaning the Spaniard should not have trouble.
Tomas Berdych could face Kevin Anderson for sixth time in 2013 alone. Berdych has beaten the South African each and every time they have played, which has been ten times in the last two years. Anderson just has to beat the severely slumping Alex Dolgopolov. After that, Berdych/Anderson should run into John Isner or Nicolas Almagro, with Pospisil and Almagro’s first round opponent Radek Stepanek also options. Isner/Anderson would be an Atlanta final rematch, and Berdych/Almagro, the more likely matchup, would be another big rematch event, as Berdych beat Almagro 5 out of 6 times last year.
Djokovic d. Gasquet
Nadal d. Haas
Berdych d. Ferrer
Murray d. Del Potro
All four players who I predict to win should be heavily favored, assuming everyone is healthy and in good form. Del Potro, Ferrer and Haas could provide trouble, but I don’t expect upsets. Djokovic beat Gasquet twice last year on hardcourts, including in the Toronto final. Nadal is 5-0 career against Haas, with all of their meetings happening on hardcourts. Ferrer has a 3-1 fast courts advantage over Berdych, but I still like Tomas in this one. Murray is 5-2 career against Del Potro, though Del Potro beat him in 3 sets in Indian Wells this year.
Djokovic d. Nadal
Murray d. Berdych
Between the Rogers Cup being a comfortable place for Novak and his generally more consistent hard court form, including winning most of his hard court meetings against Nadal in the past, I like him over Rafa. Murray should be superior to Berdych.
Murray d. Djokovic
In a reprisal of the Wimbledon final, I like Murray again. Djokovic is 4-1 since 2012 on hard courts against Murray, but looking at all of their meetings, it is hard to parse the favorite no matter what. I have to go with gut feeling.