The prestigious Rogers Cup gets underway in Toronto on Saturday with 19 of the world’s top 20 players in attendance. The likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be amongst those eager to hit the ground running as the march towards the US Open gets underway.
Fed Express not stopping in Toronto
The only big name missing from this year’s Rogers Cup will be the competition’s namesake, Roger Federer delaying his return following Wimbledon as he continues to carefully pick and choose his events.
The absence of the 20-time Grand Slam champion (7/2 US Open Outright) hardly opens things up for the rest of the field though given that along with the majority of the field being ranked competitors, three-time champion Andy Murray and home favourite Milos Raonic have also been handed wildcards.
German Alexander Zverev is the defending champion having got the better of Federer in last year’s final but he is unlikely to open up proceedings as the favourite.
Djokovic seems returning to hard-court form
Djokovic, who is currently the 13/5 favourite for the US Open, will likely get top billing having won Wimbledon last month, while he is a regular collector of the main prize at the Rogers Cup.
The Serb has won this event no less than four times and had been the dominant force on the hard courts before his injury issues. In the past seven years, the world No.10 has won 89 per cent of his matches on this surface and it is tough to look beyond him in Toronto.
Reigning US Open champion and three-time Rogers Cup winner Nadal will hope he gets a shot at revenge against Djokovic after their epic Wimbledon semi-final. He is one player who will be glad to see Federer not in Canada given he has lost his last four meetings with the Swiss.
Shapovalov to fly the flag for Canada
Nadal’s campaign last year was ended by home hero Denis Shapovalov in the quarter-finals, a victory which kick-started the young Canuck’s ascent up the rankings. He was a wildcard when he defeated the Spaniard but has since risen to 26th in the world and is 40/1 to win the US Open.
He revelled in playing in front of a partisan crowd and with a year of tour experience under his belt could be a threat.
The big servers normally tend to do well at the Rogers Cup, which is played on a quicker hard-court surface, Andy Roddick reaching three consecutive finals between 2002 and 2004, while, more recently, Raonic has made the showpiece game.
With Kevin Anderson, Marin Cilic and John Isner having shown decent form of late, they will be a trio to be avoided.
However, a look back at previous winners tells you the cream normally rises to the top at the Rogers Cup and so backing a more established name, such as Djokovic, Nadal or, dare I say it, Murray, is unlikely to leave you out of pocket.
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