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Ricky’s preview and picks for the Toronto Masters 1000

For a third straight, neither Novak Djokovic nor Rafael Nadal is taking the court at the National Bank Open. Given that this event was cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, that means neither GOAT candidate has played it since 2019 (and Djokovic hasn’t been there since 2018).
Nonetheless, the field remains an impressive one for the first of back-to-back Masters 1000 tournaments on North American hard courts in the buildup to the U.S. Open.

Here is my preview and picks for the National Bank Open.

National Bank Open Presented by Rogers 
Where: Toronto, Canada 
Prize money: $6,600,000 
Top seed: Carlos Alcaraz 
2022 champion: Pablo Carreno Busta (not playing) 

In a compilation of players being asked to make their predictions for the hard-court summer, one of Daniil Medvedev’s answers was “a lot of Alcaraz-Sinner matches. I think we all want it.” 

We all want it, and we might get it right away at the Toronto Masters. Jannik Sinner landed in the top half of the draw along with Alcaraz, so the two friendly rivals could collide in the semis.

However, it won’t be easy for either one to make it happen. Alcaraz’s path to the last four could include Hubert Hurkacz in the third round and Holger Rune in the QFs. Sinner may have to go up against fellow Italian Matteo Berrettini in round two and Andy Murray is a possible third-round foe. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov are also in Sinner’s quarter. 
The bottom half of the bracket is a bit softer, although Medvedev vs. Taylor Fritz and Andrey Rublev vs. Alexander Zverev would be blockbuster quarterfinal matchups. Medvedev and Fritz landed in arguably the weakest quarter, while Rublev and Zverev may have more difficulty progressing through the draw with Casper Ruud, Frances Tiafoe, and Washington, D.C. runner-up Tallon Griekspoor lurking as potential roadblocks.

Quarterfinal picks: Carlos Alcaraz over Francisco Cerundolo, Jannik Sinner over Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev over Frances Tiafoe, and Daniil Medvedev over Alex de Minaur 

Semifinals: Sinner over Alcaraz and Medvedev over Zverev 

Final: Medvedev over Sinner

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