Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev, and Juan Martin Del Potro Vie for 2018 Rogers Cup Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2018 Rogers Cup in Toronto is the first of two ATP Masters 1000 tournaments on North American Hard Courts this Summer. Here is your look at all the action.
Rafael Nadal hasn’t played on a hard court for months but he’s put together a great season overall and has to be one of the favorites in Toronto. Nadal should ease past Jared Donaldson or a struggling Benoit Paire. The section just below Rafa is interesting. Marton Fucsovics faces Joao Sousa, Stan Wawrinka will face Nick Kyrgios. Every player in the section is struggling, and Kyrgios hasn’t been fit. This seems like a good opportunity for Wawrinka or Kyrgios to find a run of form, but Nadal will be favored to prevail in the section.
Marin Cilic will have an interesting matchup with countryman Borna Coric in the second round. Coric will have to beat home favorite Vasek Pospisil in round 1, while Cilic will be favored into the third round. Sam Querrey will be favored against Adrian Mannarino while I have Kyle Edmund reaching round 3, with Edmund defeating Diego Schwartzman, and Querrey before falling to Cilic.
Juan Martin Del Potro gets a brutal round 2 matchup against Kei Nisihkori, presuming Nishikori defeats Robin Haase. With Del Potro having reached the final in Los Cabos he will probably edge Nishikori before facing either home favorite Denis Shapovalov or Fabio Fognini, who defeated him in Los Cabos. Shapovalov opens with Jeremy Chardy, while Fognini faces Steve Johnson. Fatigue could impact this section as I have Shapovalov upsetting Fognini before falling to Del Potro.
John Isner played a poor match in Washington but he looks set to rebound in Toronto. Isner will face Albert Ramos or Pierre Hugues-Herbert. Isner should reach the third round to face off with Pablo Carreno Busta. PCB opens with Yoshihito Nishioka, then an interesting match with Karen Khachanov (or Filip Krajinovic) awaits. A surprise could emerge from the section but Isner over pCB seems sensible.
Kevin Anderson returns to tour after a great run at Wimbledon. Anderson could be challenged by Washington semifinalist Andrey Rublev, presuming Rublev defeats countryman Evgeny Donskoy in round 1. Anderson will be favored against Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, presuming Bautista Agut can get past a tricky match against Ryan Harrison, and then defeats Yuichi Sugita/Ilya Ivashka.
Milos Raonic will be the favorite as he returns to Canada to face David Goffin in the opening round. Goffin has not been consistent lately. Raonic should also ease past Marco Cecchinato/Frances Tiafoe. Fernando Verdasco should beat Peter Gojowczyk before falling to Grigor Dimitrov. Raonic over Dimitrov, who has been poor lately, is a good third round projection.
Washington champ Alexander Zverev should dominate David Ferrer or Bradley Klahn if he’s fit. I’ll back another Canadian in the draw, young gun Felix Auger Aliassime to upset Lucas Pouille before facing off with either Daniil Medvedev or a struggling Jack Sock. Zverev over Medvedev is my pick for the third round, though Auger Aliassime should surprise.
Novak Djokovic will face off with Hyeon Chung, Matthew Ebden should defeat Peter Polansky before falling to Djokovic in round 2. Dominic Thiem will take on Washington semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas , as Tsitsipas should defeat Damir Dzumhur. Djokovic over Thiem is the wise third round projection.
2017 ATP Montreal Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The Rogers Cup is underway in Montreal, it’s part of the US Open Series, and of course one of the ATP Masters 1000 events. The event is top caliber, but many of the ATP’s best are out due to injury including Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka (for the season), and Marin Cilic.
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
August 7-13, 2017
Prize Money: $4,662,300
Rafael Nadal has won the Rogers Cup three times and faces Borna Coric in round 2. Coric has two previous wins against Rafa and easily beat Mikhail Youzhny to start the tournament, but unless he catches Nadal with a bit of rust Nadal should prevail into round 3. Young Canadian Denis Shapovalov will face off with Juan Martin Del Potro, Shapovalov is a big talent, and plays well under pressure, but Del Potro should hit him off the court after the Argentine beat John Isner in round 1. Nadal should be too good for Del Potro with his defensive skills.
David Goffin dropped a set in round 1 but looks set to face off with Milos Raonic in round 3, he only needs to defeat Hyeon Chung, who found form in an upset win against Feliciano Lopez in round 1, Raonic is a worthy favorite against Adrian Mannarino in round 2, playing at home he should reach at least the quarterfinals as this is one of the biggest events of his season.
Given that Richard Gasquet barely got past local Canadian Brayden Schnur in round 1, Washington champion Alexander Zverev should keep up his winning streak and defeat Gasquet. Nick Kyrgios broke a four match losing streak with a win against Viktor Troicki round 1, he’s a heavy favorite against dirtballer Paolo Lorenzi. Kyrgios has all the talent to reach the quarters, but fellow young gun Zverev is a clear favorite.
Pablo Carreno Busta faces Washington finalist Kevin Anderson, Los Cabos champion Sam Querrey is opposite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Querrey has had a great summer and just beat Tsonga at Wimbledon, presuming he’s not too worn out, Querrey should reach the third round and beat the former Rogers Cup champion, with Anderson serving his way into the quarterfinals, he really enjoys the hard court summer even though Querrey beat him at Wimbledon.
Roger Federer has won three Rogers Cup titles, Federer should earn his 13th straight victory and defeat wild card Peter Polansky in round 2. Polansky beat his countryman Vasek Pospisil in round 1. David Ferrer beat Kyle Edmund in a long round 1 battle, but against Jack Sock with his lethal forehand he should be outmatched. Sock has four wins in five matches and should make it five out of six. Federer will be the favorite against Sock in round 3, Sock would love to grab that upset though.
With Gael Monfils struggling despite a round 1 comeback win against Steve Johnson, Kei Nishikori will be the favorite in round 2. Nishikori played well enough in Washington to suggest he’ll beat Monfils and either Ryan Harrison or Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round. Both players can peak, but Nishikori is the strongest player in this section.
One of the rising young American stars on the US Open Series this summer, Jared Donaldson faces Diego Schwartzman with a shot at the quarterfinals. Donaldson upset Lucas Pouille, while Schwartzman knocked off Dominic Thiem in the opening round. Despite Schwartzman’s massive win, Donaldson will be the favorite. Donaldson beat Benoit Paire in round 2, while Schwartzman beat Reilly Opelka in the opening round.
Robin Haase faces lucky loser Ernesto Escobedo in round 2 after Escobedo upset Nikoloz Basilashvili in round 1. Escobedo has a great shot at the third round with Grigor Dimitrov the strongest player in the section. He faces Mischa Zverev in round 2, Zverev is struggling, thus Dimitrov should reach the quarters.
Quarters Nadal d. Raonic
Zverev d. Anderson
Dimitrov d. Donaldson
Federer d. Nishikori
With a decimated Rogers Cup field, only Raonic or Nishikori appear likely to upset the apple cart. There may be a surprise semifinalist though if Zverev or Dimitrov struggle.
Semis Nadal d. Zverev
Federer d. Dimitrov
It should be a Rafa vs. Roger final at the Rogers Cup, with Federer the favorite to take the title.
2016 ATP Rogers Cup Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The summer hard court season will kick into high gear with the 2016 Rogers Cup ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Toronto, as many ATP players make their final preparations for the Olympic games in Rio that are coming up in August. Here is a preview and predictions.
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
July 25-July 31, 2016
Prize Money: $4,089,740
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Stan Wawrinka (5)
3: Kei Nishikori (6)
4: Milos Raonic (7)
5: Tomas Berdych (8)
6: Dominic Thiem (9)
7: David Goffin (11)
8: Marin Cilic (12)
Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Ferrer, and a host of other top 30 players are skipping Toronto this year, making this one of the weaker Masters 1000 fields, while also creating more opportunities for those in the top 50 who are playing.
A first time meeting between this fan favorite pairing. Paire should prevail, but Stepanek is a difficult opponent to defeat when he rushes the net well, and Paire is dependent on his backhand clicking to win matches.
Ivo Karlovic vs. Taylor Fritz
Fritz looked a bit overwhelmed and overmatched in D.C., it won’t get any easier against the big serving Karlovic in Toronto. Ivo is the heavy favorite, but it will be interesting to see if the young Fritz can fight hard and show some bounce back in this match.
(11)Nick Kyrgios vs. (WC)Denis Shapovalov
Kyrgios is far and above better than the young Wimbledon junior champ Shapovalov in this one, but the Canadian will have home support, and both guys play aggressive battlers tennis. If Kyrgios loses the plot, Shapovalov has the strokes, especially with his one handed backhand, to notch an upset, however Kyrgios serve should dominate play. Expect to see more of Denis in the years to come.
Both players are veterans in poor form who badly need a win, and with Anderson’s penchant for playing (and as of recently losing..) tiebreaks, expect a close battle that is likely to go to three sets. Anderson gets a lot of points this time of year, but if his poor play continues he’s going to drop out of the top 50 sooner than you’d expect. The h2h is tied 1-1.
Donald Young vs. Alex Dolgopolov
Young found some decent form as of late and he hasn’t lost his opening match at a tournament since Roland Garros. Dolgopolov is a tricky shotmaker who could dominate Young in this one, or show signs of weakness and give the American an opening. At a very minimum these two will battle and hit some great shots from the baseline.
Novak Djokovic hasn’t won the Rogers Cup since 2012, but with all of the recent champions absent this year he’s the favorite to improve on his 46-4 record on the season and take home the title. He should ease past Newport finalist Gilles Muller (who opens with a struggling Dmitry Tursunov), then defeat most likely Washington quarterfinalist Benoit Paire in round 3. Paire opens with Stepanek with either Peter Polansky or Tim Smyczek to follow. He’s unpredictable, but he’s likely to win a pair of matches, then bow out meekly to Djokovic.
John Isner and Tomas Berdych look set to meet in the third round for the right to face Djokovic in the quarters, Isner fell in the quarterfinals of Washington, but his form should still be good enough to dispatch Dudi Sela and either Andrey Kuznetsov or in-form qualifier Ryan Harrison to reach round 3. Wimbledon semifinalist Berdych will face either Borna Coric or Ivan Dodig in his second round match, Coric is a solid young player, but didn’t play well enough in D.C. to suggest he will upset Berdych. Berdych over Isner is my pick, given Berdych’s power game should edge Isner matchup wise, although it will be close and could go either way.
Milos Raonic is set for a tricky second round match against Washington semifinalist Alexander Zverev, who is rising quickly up the ranks on all surfaces. Zverev needs only to defeat Rendy Lu in round 1. The home hero Canadian should be bailed out by crowd support and his big serve to prevail however, and likewise Steve Johnson is a difficult opponent in the third round, but Raonic is the favorite to prevail. Johnson knocked off John Isner in Washington and reached the semifinals, showing he can deal with big servers. He’s in great form and should defeat Umag champion Fabio Fognini, and either Jared Donaldson or John Millman to reach round 3. A spot in the quarterfinals would earn Raonic his 20th hard court win of the season.
The fates of Gael Monfils and Sam Querrey are somewhat up in the air, while David Goffin is the player that gets a bye. Goffin has a pair of semifinals in the hard court Masters this year and would face the Wimbledon and Washington quarterfinalist Querrey in round 2, presuming Sam dispatches Frank Dancevic. Querrey is playing some of the best tennis he’s ever played, and his power could be too much for Goffin. They met in Montreal last year and Goffin advanced in a close straight setter. Goffin is my pick though, as he’s proven his mettle in Masters tournaments this season, and likely has the clutch factor.
The Washington champion Monfils should defeat Joao Sousa and then Jeremy Chardy or Vasek Pospisil, both of whom are struggling in recent months. Fatigue could play a factor for Monfils, but he’s playing so well right now I have to pick him over Goffin for the quarterfinals. His movement and serve were exceptional in Washington, while Goffin hasn’t played a match in weeks.
Kei Nishikori and young Frenchman Lucas Pouille look set to do battle in round 3 as Kei would be bidding for 40 match wins on the season. Federico Delbonis or Dennis Novikov should provide little resistance for the efficient Nishikori while the Wimbledon quarterfinalist Pouille faces qualifier Emilio Gomez with Ernests Gulbis or serve and volleyer Rajeev Ram to follow. This smooth path for Pouille will abruptly end against Nishikori, and although the Frenchman is a great young player, on hard court Nishikori should have the shots he needs to advance.
The Kyrgios/Shapovalov winner will face either Yuichi Sugita or a continually struggling Grigor Dimitrov in round 2, for the right to face most likely Marin Cilic in round 3, although Washington finalist Ivo Karlovic, or Fritz are also possible opponents. Karlovic has been dominant on serve in recent weeks, but fatigue will likely catch up to him at his age, while Cilic was a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and has a great opportunity in this Masters tournament with some of the big names absent. Cilic’s power should get him past Karlovic, and Kyrgios, who is good enough to defeat Dimitrov, but likely below Cilic’s level, despite Kyrgios win in Marseille this year indoors.
Stan Wawrinka looks set to face Jack Sock in the third round, presuming Sock defeats struggling fellow American Denis Kudla and the Young/Dolgopolov winner, a tricky but favorable prospect. Wawrinka is 14-3 on the season on hard court, and either Mikhail Youzhny or Stephane Robert are unlikely to provide much resistance in round 2, although a match with Youzhny would treat fans to a battle of great one handed backhanders. Sock was a quarterfinalist in Washington, and I wouldn’t put an upset of Wawrinka past him, but Stan is the favorite in his section with Dolgopolov serving as a bit of a dark horse. Sock’s great forehand will clash with Wawrinka’s great backhand.
Dominic Thiem crashed out of Kitzbuhel, a home tournament for him, in singles, and he has a tough round 2 match on tap with Troicki/Anderson with the winner set to face Bernard Tomic, presuming a streaky Bernie beats qualifier Alejandro Gonzalez, and either Kyle Edmund or wild card Steve Diez. Thiem is 14-5 on hard courts on the season, and he’s played a brutal schedule that may have left him a bit winded recently. With neither Troicki nor Anderson playing well, Thiem over Troicki is my pick, and then Thiem over Tomic, although Bernie could really use a confidence boosting upset on hard court such as that. Thiem beat Tomic earlier this season in Acapulco.
Querrey will need to upset Goffin, and Monfils to reach the quarters, but if he does, even Milos Raonic should be on alert. The American is playing freely right now, and that serious but relaxed attitude is doing his game wonders. Karlovic is unbreakable on serve right now, fatigue likely catches up with him but he could defeat anyone in the draw right now if he can win tiebreaks, and he could reach the quarters.
Quarters: Djokovic d. Berdych
Raonic d. Monfils
Cilic d. Nishikori
Thiem d. Wawrinka
Djokovic, despite his shock loss at Wimbledon, is far and above better than Berdych, Raonic vs. Monfils is a tough match to predict, but given the fatigue factor, Raonic likely edges Monfils in a close one. Nishikori could have a better tournament than the quarterfinals, but Cilic should be hungry, and his power likely gives him the edge. Thiem vs. Wawrinka is a battle of one-handers, Wawrinka hasn’t been super impressive this year, and Thiem will look to continue to make his move into the ATP’s elite with some of the other big names absent this tournament.
Semis: Djokovic d. Raonic
Thiem d. Cilic
It’s a bold and gutsy move to go with Thiem in the final, but the Rogers Cup looks likely to produce a few surprises. Djokovic should break Canadian hearts and defeat Raonic with his superior return game given their result this year in the IW final.
Final: Djokovic d. Thiem
In ATP Masters 1000’s right now I can’t go against Djokovic, he’s simply the best player in the game right now, and in best of 3 there is little margin of error for his opponents to defeat him unless he has a bad day, and that’s rare for him.
2015 ATP Draw Challenge Week 30 (Montreal) Staff, Tennis Atlantic
2015 Rogers Cup Predictions
Steen Kirby’s picks
Round 2 matches: Djokovic vs. Bellucci, Sock vs. Dolgopolov, Anderson vs. Gulbis, Kudla vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Kyrgios, Pospisil vs. Isner, Gasquet vs. Chung, Karlovic vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Stakhovsky, Troicki vs. Simon, Johnson vs. Querrey, Andujar vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Sousa, Bautista Agut vs. Tsonga, Monfils vs. Muller, Lopez vs. Murray Round 3 matches: Djokovic vs. Dolgopolov, Anderson vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Isner, Gasquet vs. Karlovic, Nadal vs. Simon, Johnson vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Tsonga, Muller vs. Murray Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Gasquet, Nadal vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Murray Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Gasquet, Nadal vs. Murray Final: Djokovic vs. Murray Champion: Djokovic
Niall Clarke’s picks
Round 2 matches: Djokovic vs. Bellucci, Sock vs. Dimitrov, Anderson vs. Thiem, Young vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Verdasco, Pospisil vs. Isner, Gasquet vs. Mayer, Karlovic vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Stakhovsky, Troicki vs. Simon, Johnson vs. Klizan, Andujar vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Tomic, Bautista Agut vs. Tsonga, Monfils vs. Muller, Lopez vs. Murray Round 3 matches: Djokovic vs. Sock, Thiem vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Isner, Gasquet vs. Karlovic, Nadal vs. Simon, Johnson vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Tsonga, Monfils vs. Murray Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Gasquet, Nadal vs. Nishikori, Tsonga vs. Murray Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Wawrinka, Nishikori vs. Murray Final: Djokovic vs. Nishikori Champion: Djokovic
Joe Craven’s picks
Round 2 matches: Djokovic vs. Bellucci, Sock vs. Dimitrov, Anderson vs. Gulbis, Young vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Kyrgios, Pospisil vs. Isner, Gasquet vs. Mayer, Karlovic vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Stakhovsky, Troicki vs. Simon, Goffin vs. Querrey, Dancevic vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Tomic, Bautista Agut vs. Tsonga, Monfils vs. Muller, Lopez vs. Murray Round 3 matches: Djokovic vs. Sock, Anderson vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Isner, Gasquet vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Simon, Goffin vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Tsonga, Monfils vs. Murray Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Raonic, Simon vs. Nishikori, Tsonga vs. Murray Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Wawrinka, Nishikori vs. Murray Final: Djokovic vs. Nishikori Champion: Djokovic
Chris de Waard’s picks
Round 2 matches: Djokovic vs. Cuevas, Sock vs. Dimitrov, Anderson vs. Thiem, Young vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Kyrgios, Pospisil vs. Isner, Gasquet vs. Mayer, Karlovic vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Stakhovsky, Troicki vs. Simon, Johnson vs. Querrey, Dancevic vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Sousa, Bautista Agut vs. Tsonga, Monfils vs. Muller, Robredo vs. Murray Round 3 matches: Djokovic vs. Sock, Anderson vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Pospisil, Gasquet vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Simon, Johnson vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Tsonga, Monfils vs. Murray Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Murray Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Wawrinka, Nishikori vs. Murray Final: Djokovic vs. Murray Champion: Djokovic
Jeff McMillan’s picks
Round 2 matches: Djokovic vs. Bellucci, Sock vs. Dolgopolov, Anderson vs. Thiem, Young vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Kyrgios, Pospisil vs. Isner, Gasquet vs. Chung, Karlovic vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Stakhovsky, Troicki vs. Simon, Goffin vs. Querrey, Dancevic vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Tomic, Bautista Agut vs. Tsonga, Monfils vs. Muller, Lopez vs. Murray Round 3 matches: Djokovic vs. Sock, Anderson vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Isner, Gasquet vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Troicki, Goffin vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Tsonga, Monfils vs. Murray Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Berdych, Wawrinka vs. Raonic, Nadal vs. Nishikori, Cilic vs. Murray Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Raonic, Nishikori vs. Cilic Final: Djokovic vs. Cilic Champion: Djokovic
Novak Djokovic a strong favorite this week with opinions mixed on Kei Nishikori and Andy Murray
2015 ATP Montreal Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
2015 ATP Montreal Preview
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
August 10-August 16, 2015
Prize Money: $3,587,490
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Andy Murray (3)
3: Stan Wawrinka (5)
4: Kei Nishikori (4)
5: Tomas Berdych (6)
6: Marin Cilic (8)
7: Rafael Nadal (9)
8: Milos Raonic (10)
Roger Federer is skipping Montreal this year, while David Ferrer is out with an elbow injury. Otherwise the rest of the ATP top 25 is taking part.
Sock has a solid track record on hard courts this year and has played both of the North American stops this Summer in Atlanta and Washington, reaching the quarters in Washington. The young American continues to rise up the rankings and this match represents a good opportunity for him. Mannarino, a finalist in Bogota, has also had a good record on hard courts this year and took a week off after an early exit in Atlanta. His solid play all season has earned him a career high ranking and this should be a competitive match. Presuming Sock is fit, he should have the edge, though Mannarino is streaky. Sock has a 2-1 h2h edge on hard courts.
(14)Grigor Dimitrov vs. (Q)Alexandr Dolgopolov
Dimitrov has a h2h edge on Dolgopolov but his poor form since splitting with coach Roger Rasheed is evident, as the Bulgarian has failed to progress his game in any manner this season. Grigor had a poor week in Washington, losing round 2, and now he’ll have to face a dangerous shotmaker as he hopes to avoid a round 1 exit in Montreal. Dolgopolov qualified and is 4-1 in his last five matches, thus his form seems better than it was when he plunged down the rankings. This matchup should feature some great ball striking and winner creation, and I not only give Dolgo a chance to advance, I have him winning this one in an upset, as Dimitrov seems lost at the moment.
Fernando Verdasco vs. Nick Kyrgios
The veteran Spanish lefty has had some tough draws in recent tournaments and he returns to hard court tennis with a 7-5 record in 2015. Kyrgios is returning from a poor showing in Davis Cup duty and his consistency and focus has been lacking at times this year outside of Grand Slams. This matchup should feature big hitting and big forehands, and it’s hard to tell the form of ether player, that said I give Kyrgios, if focused, the edge to advance in what should be an exciting match.
(13)David Goffin vs. Steve Johnson
Goffin, who is just 6-5 on hard courts in 2015, is ranked higher than Johnson, but the hard court surface should balance this matchup, and the h2h is split 1-1. Johnson comes into Montreal with a 15-9 hard court record this year, and a semifinal in Washington where he played excellent tennis, as the American continues to improve. This is another matchup where the seed could suffer an early exit, Goffin’s form was good on clay (reached Gstaad final), but Johnson won’t have to switch surfaces and he’s playing great right now, I have Stevie pulling of the upset.
Tsonga is the defending champion of the Rogers Cup, but he could well bow out in round 1 the next year as the young gun Coric is a dangerous opponent. The teenager is 9-8 on outdoor hard in 2015, and upset Andy Murray in Dubai this year. Tsonga struggled in Davis Cup and has barely played on hard courts this year, I still have Jo winning this but it should be close, and he is another seed who could bow out early.
Three time Rogers Cup champion and undisputed world #1 Novak Djokovic will look to improve on his 25-2 outdoor hard court record in 2015, and he should have a clear path to the quarterfinals. Thomaz Bellucci is likely his first opponent, presuming Bellucci gets past dirtballer Pablo Cuevas like he did in Miami this year, Bellucci took a set off of Novak in Rome on clay this year, but I don’t see that repeating himself. After Bellucci it will be Dolgopolov/Dimitrov or Sock/Mannarino, in an interesting section. I have Dolgopolov beating Dimitrov and Sock before falling to Djokovic like he did in a great Miami match this year (lost in 3 sets).
Tomas Berdych could have a tough time, with Denis Kudla likely to be his first opponent. Kudla, a semifinalist in Atlanta, faces fellow qualifier Donald Young in round 1, and has been in fantastic form over the past couple of months. Dynamite Denis is playing the tennis of his life right now and I wouldn’t put an upset of Berdych past him, that said Berdych is 19-5 on outdoor hard this year and is still the favorite. In round 3 we should see Berdych/Kudla against Kevin Anderson, as Anderson and Berdych tend to find each other in draws.
Anderson suffered a shock loss in Washington early on, but given this is a surface he likes he should recover and beat Lukas Rosol, who simply isn’t as good as him on hard courts, and then the winner of Dominic Thiem/Ernests Gulbis. Gulbis qualified after seeing his ranking drop, and Thiem is one of his best friends on tour, coming off a fantastic run on clay. Thiem is 3-0 against Gulbis since their first meeting, though he may struggle to adjust surface after great results on clay, and I have Gulbis pulling a minor upset before falling to Anderson. Berdych dominates Anderson in the h2h, and thus look for Tomas in the quarters.
Stan the man Wawrinka could bow out to Kyrgios/Verdasco right off the bat, though he handled Kyrgios well on grass when they met earlier this year. Wawrinka struggles with consistency compared to the other top 5 players, but so do Kyrgios and Verdasco and it’s a hard section to predict. That said Wawrinka is 10-3 on hard this year and I don’t trust Kyrgios to keep his cool thus I have it Wawrinka vs. John Isner round 3.
Isner, the champion in Atlanta and a finalist in Washington, may be fatigued but he’s playing fantastic on the US Open series and his booming serve should push him bast Benjamin Becker, who hasn’t been healthy recently, and the winner of Rendy Lu/Vasek Pospisil. Big John is now 16-5 on hard courts in 2015 and he just beat Pospisil, his likely round 2 opponent, at the Citi Open. A fresher Wawrinka likely has the edge on Isner in round 3, but with the American serving so well right now, he could be a dark horse. I have Wawrinka in the quarters myself. Isner is 2-1 against Wawrinka in the h2h but they haven’t played in multiple seasons.
Milos Raonic, the home hero, has a tough opening match ahead against either Jerzy Janowicz or Ivo Karlovic, likely Karlovic who has been in great form in recent tournaments. Big servers will collide, and this is another matchup where the seed could go out. I have Karlovic reaching round 3 where he is likely to face Richard Gasquet. Gasquet opens with Jeremy Chardy, his countryman (2-0 h2h) and then will face the Hyeon Chung/Leo Mayer winner. Gasquet, who lost round 2 in Washington, is a better hard court player than Mayer, and the qualifier Chung is still an inexperienced young gun. Chung is in good form so I have him upsetting Mayer before falling to Gasquet. Gasquet has won his last three meetings against Karlovic, and I also see him beating Raonic if Raonic blazes the same path, so I have Gasquet reaching the quarters. Both Raonic and Gasquet are former finalists at the Rogers Cup.
Washington champ Kei Nishikori is in excellent form and has an easy early draw that should allow him to conserve his energy a bit. He should roll past Pablo Andujar/Frank Dancevic and do the same to Goffin/Johnson unless he’s fatigued, as I don’t feel either player is up to his caliber, though both are quality ballstrikers and could trouble him. The winner of Goffin/Johnson faces Martin Klizan/Sam Querrey round 2, both of whom are inconsistent big hitters. I have Johnson beating Querrey before falling to Nishikori. Nishikori beat Johnson this year in Brisbane.
Three time Rogers Cup champion Rafael Nadal is also in this section, but he’s a rather pedestrian 8-4 on hard courts in 2015, he last played on clay where he took the title in Hamburg. Rafa should be able to defeat Sergiy Stakhovsky or young Canadian Filip Peliwo, a wild card, but Gilles Simon could prove trouble in the third round. Simon has been competitive on hard courts this year and he faces a possibly injured Andreas Seppi round 1, and then likely Viktor Troicki, who he dominates the h2h with in round 2. Troicki will face qualifier Mikhail Youzhny, who found some form this weekend after a bad slump, in round 1. Nadal would have the edge against Troicki, and also should beat Simon who he is 7-1 against in the h2h. As long as Rafa has himself healthy and together look for him in the quarterfinals.
Andy Murray suffered a shock loss to journeyman Teymuraz Gabashvili in Washington but he’s still won the Rogers Cup title twice and had an excellent season, hard courts included. In his first Montreal match he’ll face either Feliciano Lopez or Tommy Robredo, Robredo has barely played on hard courts this year, but Lopez isn’t in great form and has a poor h2h record. I have Murray beating Lopez in round 2 and pushing his h2h to 11-0 before beating either Gilles Muller or Gael Monfils in round 3. Tbe big serving Atlanta semifinalist Muller is in good form and should defeat Canadian wild card Philip Bester to setup a meeting with Monfils. Monfils faces Fabio Fognini, who hasn’t won a hard court match this year, round 1, before Muller. It’s tough to predict a winner there, but I have Muller pulling it out, before falling to Murray, who beat him on hard courts and grass this year. Murray vs. Monfils, if it were to happen, would be highly entertaining though with speed on showcase. It has to be mentioned Monfils and Fognini are both entertainers on court, and it should be a fun, though possibly clownish round 1 match.
Look for Washington semifinalist Marin Cilic to continue his good form as he preps to defend the US Open title, and defeat either Bernard Tomic, who is inconsistent and lost right now on court, or Joao Sousa in his first match. After that it should be Cilic against Tsonga/Coric unless Roberto Bautista Agut interrupts proceedings in round 2. RBA has a poor hard court record this year, but should build confidence with a win over the struggling Janko Tipsarevic round 1. I see Cilic over Tsonga in the third round after Tsonga beats RBA. Cilic is in better form and has won his last three meetings against the Frenchman.
Dark Horses: Denis Kudla, Ivo Karlovic, Steve Johnson, Gilles Muller
A crop of hard court players should serve as dark horses for the Rogers Cup. Kudla is in the form of his life and if he can upset Berdych he could reach the quarters. Karlovic with his tricky and powerful serve could upset Raonic and Gasquet to reach the quarters, and perhaps Wawrinka as well to the reach the semis.
Kudla’s fellow American Johnson would need to get past Goffin and Nishikori, but if Kei is fatigued he could also reach the quarters. The same goes for Gilles Muller, who would need to upset Monfils and Murray. He’s a big server like Ivo and when he’s on, tiebreaks tend to decide matches, a those are always risky propositions, even for top players.
Quarterfinals: Djokovic d. Berdych
Gasquet d. Wawrinka
Nadal d. Nishikori
Murray d. Cilic
Novak dominates the h2h with Berdych, including this season, Gasquet vs. Wawrinka is probably the most competitive quarterfinal if it takes place, and it should feature fantastic backhands. I have Gasquet pulling off an upset because Wawrinka may be a bit rusty and Gasquet won their Wimbledon meeting not long ago.
Nadal is 7-0 against Nishikori, and Kei is likely fatigued, Nadal is great at returning and chasing balls around, thus I give him the edge in what could be a good hard court tournament for him. Murray has the h2h edge pretty consistently over Cilic, and I don’t feel the poor match in D.C. was a genuine concern for him, so I have him sorting things out and reaching the semis.
Semifinals: Djokovic d. Gasquet Murray d. Nadal
Djokovic could avenge his loss to Wawrinka in the Roland Garros final, but I have him beating Gasquet instead, as he’s simply the better player and it’s shown in their meetings. Murray should be superior to Nadal on hard courts.
Final: Djokovic d. Murray
Djokovic is the clear favorite for this title, especially with Federer absent. Murray fights hard against Novak and could win, but he’s a heavy underdog if this is the final, and I have Novak taking the 2015 Rogers Cup.