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Ricky’s Tennis Preview and Picks for the National Bank Open, Toronto Masters – Medvedev, Nadal top two seeds

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates defeating Jack Sock of the USA during their round two mens singles match of the the Citi Open ATP tennis tournament at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in Washington, DC, USA, 04 August 2021. EPA-EFE/SHAWN THEW

By Ricky Dimon

One of the busiest stretches on the annual tennis calendar is the U.S. Open Series. The 2021 installment has already featured three stops on the ATP Tour and now it picks up the pace with back-to-back Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati.

The Canadian festivities are missing seven of the top 20 players in the world due to either injuries or an especially grueling summer schedule because of the Tokyo Olympics. Gold medal winner Alexander Zverev and bronze medalist Pablo Carreno Busta are among those on the sidelines, for example. Novak Djokovic, who lost to Zverev in the semifinals and to Carreno Busta in the bronze-medal match, is also out. Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem are two of Toronto’s injury casualties.

Nonetheless, the field remains strong enough thanks to the likes of Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, and Canadian stars Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

National Bank Open

Where: Toronto, Canada
Prize money: $2,850,975
Top seed: Daniil Medvedev
Defending champion: Rafael Nadal

Nadal will be looking to bounce back from a Washington, D.C. third-round loss to Lloyd Harris. Most importantly, though, the 35-year-old Spaniard has to hope that his lingering foot injury improves. Nadal will likely kick off his Toronto campaign against none other than Harris, who first has to beat qualifier Brayden Schnur. The second seed could run into either Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios, or Reilly Opelka in the round of 16. Diego Schwartzman and then Tsitsipas are potential opponents in the quarterfinals and semis, respectively.Tsitsipas certainly won’t be looking past his first two matches, however. The fourth-ranked Greek awaits either Ugo Humbert or Lorenzo Sonego before possibly meeting singles silver medalist Karen Khachanov, mixed doubles silver medalist Aslan Karatsev, or Los Cabos champion Cameron Norrie.

Daniil Medvedev of Russia in action during the 4th round match against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland at the Wimbledon Championships, Wimbledon, Britain 05 July 2021. EPA-EFE/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Thanks to Djokovic’s absence, Medvedev is the top seed at a Masters 1000 tournament for the first time in his career. Dan Evans or Alexander Bublik is up first for the Russian, and that is no easy task. Wimbledon semifinalist Hubert Hurkacz is the other top-eight seed in Medvedev’s section, while a semifinal showdown against compatriot and mixed doubles gold medalist Rublev is possible.

WASHINGTON, USA – August 6: Jannik Sinner of Italy at the Citi Open Tennis Tournament at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center on August 6, 2021 in Washington, USA (Photo by Peter Staples)

Quarterfinal picks: Jannik Sinner over Kei Nishikori, Sebastian Korda over John Isner, Stefanos Tsitsipas over Marin Cilic, and Diego Schwartzman over Rafael Nadal

Semifinals: Sinner over Korda and Tsitsipas over Schwartzman

Final: Tsitsipas over Sinner

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in action against Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. during the Men’s Singles Second Round Tennis events of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, Japan, 27 July 2021. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.