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Ricky’s Tennis Preview And Picks For The Rogers Cup Masters 1000 in Montreal

By Ricky Dimon

Roger Federer is once again skipping the Rogers Cup and Novak Djokovic is doing the same this time around, leaving Rafael Nadal as the No. 1 seed and odds-on favorite. Nadal, who triumphed last summer in Toronto, is joined in Montreal by the likes of Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, and the Canadian contingent of Milos Raonic, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Denis Shapovalov.

Rogers Cup

Where: Montreal, Canada
Prize money: $5,701,945
Top seed: Rafael Nadal
Defending champion: Rafael Nadal

As the only member of the Big 3 in action this week, Nadal is sure to make plenty of headlines this week–either for getting upset or for capturing a fifth Rogers Cup title. But it is the other side of the draw that is more interesting and much more up for grabs. No seeded player on that side looks like a lock to make a deep run in Montreal. Thiem is coming off a title at home in Austria, but he will be making a quick transition from his preferred clay-court surface to a trickier test on the hard stuff. Zverev, who won in Montreal two years ago, has done nothing in 2019 to suggest that will lift the trophy for a second time. Karen Khachanov has cooled off since his quarterfinal showing at Roland Garros and Medvedev may be fatigued on the heels of his Washington, D.C. success.

Moreover, the crop of unseeded threats is more than capable of throwing the bottom half into chaos. Kyrgios is there along with Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov, Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and Jan-Lennard Struff. A rematch of the Washington final between Medvedev and Kyrgios could take place in round two.

Nadal, on the other hand, will likely make light work of things at the top of the bracket–at least until the business end of the tournament. The second-ranked Spaniard’s opener will come against Alex de Minaur, who triumphed in Atlanta last month but obviously did not face anyone like Nadal. Also is the top section are Fabio Fognini, David Goffin, Los Cabos semifinalists Guido Pella and Radu Albot, and Washington, D.C. semifinalist Peter Gojowyczk. Fognini has often been a problem for Nadal, but can the Italian take care of business for two matches in order to get another shot at the top seed?

Tsitsipas, who lost to Kyrgios in a Washington semifinal thriller, is the favorite on paper to be Nadal’s semifinal foe. But the sixth-ranked Greek has to go up against either Hubert Hurkacz or a red-hot Taylor Fritz right off the bat. Kei Nishikori, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Los Cabos champion Diego Schwartzman could potentially meet Tsitsipas in the QFs. That is not easy, to say the least.

First-round upset possibility: Guido Pella over (15) David Goffin. Perennially underrated on faster surfaces simply because he is from Argentina, Pella is coming off a quarterfinal run at Wimbledon and a semifinal finish in Los Cabos. Goffin also reached the Wimbledon quarters but lost his Washington, D.C. opener to Yoshihito Nishioka. Although the Belgian leads this head-to-head series 3-0, both of their previous hard-court encounters have gone the distance (including a five-setter at the 2017 U.S. Open).

Quarterfinal picks: Rafael Nadal over Mikhail Kukushkin, Roberto Bautista Agut over Hubert Hurkacz, Felix Auger-Aliassime over Alexander Zverev, and Marin Cilic over John Isner

Semifinals: Nadal over Bautista Agut and Cilic over Auger-Aliassime

Final: Nadal over Cilic

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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