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Montreal Preview: Rafael Nadal returns to friendly hard-court confines

Montreal Preview: Rafael Nadal returns to friendly hard-court confines

On paper, with Djokovic and Federer not in the field, Rafa is a solid favorite to win the tournament for a fifth time.

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Did you think the Wimbledon men’s final was too long? I actually know someone who did. If, like him, you’ve also had your fill of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer for the moment, the Rogers Cup is the tournament for you. Neither the Serb or the Swiss will be in Montreal this week. But defending champion Rafael Nadal极速赛车双面盘 will, along with a slew of younger pursuers. Here’s a look ahead at the first ATP Masters 1000 event of the North American summer swing.

Complete Montreal Draw

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First Quarter

Nadal has had success at this event going back to his earliest days on tour, when he beat Andre Agassi in the Montreal final in 2005. On paper, with Djokovic and Federer not in the field, Rafa is a solid favorite to win it for a fifth time. He could start with a fun match, against either Alex De Minaur or Dan Evans in the second round, and if he wins that, he could get a tougher one: a quarterfinal against his semi-nemesis Fabio Fognini, who won their last meeting, in Monte Carlo this spring, in straight sets.

Also here: David Goffin, Borna Coric

First-round border war to watch: U.S. qualifier Tommy Paul vs. Canadian wild card Brayden Schnur

Semifinalist: Nadal

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Second Quarter

Some may wonder when Stefanos Tsitsipas is going to win a Slam, but the next logical step would be for him to win his first Masters event. And the logical place for him to do that could be Canada; last summer he had his breakout event in Toronto, where he beat Djokovic on his way to the final. This year Tsitsipas returns as a Top 10 player, but also with a few more miles on his wheels—he’s played a lot this year. And while he’s the top seed in this section, there could be significant challenges from either Hubert Hurkacz or Taylor Fritz in the second round, and either Robert Bautista Agut, Kei Nishikori or Diego Schwartzman in the quarters.

Player of interest: Bautista Agut. He’s coming off a trip to the Wimbledon semifinals. He’s also coming off a bachelor week and a honeymoon.

New names: Soonwoo Kwon, Ilya Ivashka. The Korean and Bulgarian qualifiers play each in the first round.

Semifinalist: Tsitsipas


Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the final of last year's Rogers Cup, where he lost to Rafael Nadal, and is coming off of a semifinal showing last week in Washington, D.C. (Getty Images)

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Third Quarter

Karen Khachanov and Alexander Zverev headline this section, and both could use a big week. While the Russian and the German-Russian have hung around the Top 10 for most of 2019, they’ve done it on the strength of their 2018 seasons. Zverev admitted this weekend that his year has been “horrible,” and he recently split with the coach who was supposed to take him to the next level, Ivan Lendl. But every week is a new one, and this is a chance for these two hard-hitters to get back on hard courts.

Zverev will start against either Cam Norrie or Martin Fucsovics. Khachanov, a semifinalist in Toronto last year, will open against either Stan Wawrinka or Grigor Dimitrov.

First-round matches to watch: Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Vasek Pospisil; Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Jan-Lennard Struff; Wawrinka vs. Dimitrov

Semifinalist: Khachanov

*****

Fourth Quarter

Remember when Dominic Thiem beat Federer in the Indian Wells final? It seems so long ago, but it’s worth recalling as he heads into the US Open swing. We know Thiem is a threat on clay; did winning Indian Wells prove he’s also one on hard courts, too? The more relevant question for the moment may be this: Will Thiem’s title run this past week on clay in Austria give him momentum for Montreal, or leave him tired? He’ll play either Denis Shapovalov or Pierre-Hugues Herbert in his opener.

Also here: John Isner, Marin Cilic and Citi Open finalist Daniil Medvedev

First-round match to watch: Citi Open champ Nick Kyrgios vs. Kyle Edmund. How will Nick react to success?

Semifinalist: Thiem

*****

Semifinals: Nadal d. Tsitsipas; Thiem d. Khachanov

Final: Nadal d. Thiem


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