The ATP hard court season has kicked off in Montreal where the world’s best players are all in the run to make an impact and take home a trophy. We’ll outline the favourites and dark horses, and even look at who might take an early exit! The Rogers Cup is the tournament that is the official start of the men’s US Open Series. This means the top men’s players will fight it out in Masters events; first in Montreal and then in Cincinnati, before preparing for New York which starts August 31st. The players are battling it out for vital ranking points and will want to create momentum in a period that is strewn with matches on the hard courts. Take a look at the who we think are the top seeds and best bets, the players likely to get far and even win.
Favourite: Novak Djokovic
Djokovic is currently the world’s number one and he is having an spectacular season. He’s won both Wimbledon and the Australian Open, and has gone to a few finals outside of his first in Doha. The Serbian is way ahead of the rest in ATP rankings, and he’s the first to qualify for the World Tour Finals. Last year at the same tournament he lost to the champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga early in the third round. But we shouldn’t exepct that this year. Novak is one of the most consistent players at the Masters events, and he loves the hard courts. He arrived in Montreal on a high and in probably the best form of his career, so is most definitely the favourite. But that doens’t mean he will win it all. Stan Wawrinka did beat him in the French Open final. But we can expect him to at least make it to the final again, as it’s his to lose.
Defending Champion: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga comes back to Montreal to defend his title, which is his second Masters overall. The Frenchman shocked everyone by defeating Djokovic in the third round, Andy Murray in the semi-final, and Roger Federer in the final. It was probably his best tournament ever in regards to his level of play and the players that he beat. His season so far has not been stellar as he had to withdraw from the Australian Open due to a forearm injury. At Roland Garros, he got to the second semifinal but he hasn’t played since his third round loss at Wimbledon, so he probably won’t have any momentum. Repeating what he did last year will very difficult in Montreal.
Favourite: Andy Murray
Murray;s been having a fabulous season, and has played well on all surfaces, most notably on clay. He currently the second seed, and he has won three titles so far this year, reaching the final of the Australian Open and the Miami Open. He’s in top form but was upset in his first match at the Citi Open, losing to an unknoan, Teymuraz Gabashvili. He’ll probably bounce back very strongly and make a good effort in Montreal. It looks like he’ll have a good draw, as he is in a quarter with Marin Cilic and doesn’t come face to face with a top five seed until the semifinal. He’ll probably be in the final.
Early Exit: Stan Wawrinka
The champion of the French Open, Stan Wawrinka got a horrible draw in Montreal this year. He’s going to be up againt Verdasco or Kyrgios in his second round, and if he gets through, he’ll meet either of two big servers Raonic, Isner and Karlovic in his quarter. The Swiss man has been noted to be quite inconsistent, with a lot of potential. He peaks when it matters the most, but halts at others. Despite victory at Roland Garros, he’s suffered multiple early exits at Masters tournaments and is the best bet to bow out shortly from this tournament. Last year in Toronto he lost in the third round to Kevin Anderson, another big server. This year he has the three biggest servers of the ATP in his quarter so he’s a safe bet.
Dark Horse: Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal has fallen quite far in the rankings having had his worst year in a decade. But despite all that he looks like to getting his grove back in recent months. He won a title in Stuttgart just before Wimbledon, and Hamburg last week, which was his biggest win since Roland Garros 2014. He looks to have his game on track and his minset has improved vastly since January, all which has raised his confidence. The Spaniard missed the entire North American hard court season last year due to an injury to his wrist, but has won both Masters and the US Open back in 2013. His draw is going to be good to him: He’s set to meet Nishikori in the quarterfinals and Murray in the semifinal, but until those opponents, his path looks smooth. If he can focus he can definitely make it to the semi-final.
Outside Bets: Kei Nishikori & Dominic Thiem
Thiem is a 21-year-old Austrian who has won two titles in two weeks. He reached the semi-final in Kitzbuhel. He’s a promising young talent who may be the next big thing, and today he’s 17th in the ATP rankings. On a roll having won ten straight matches before falling in the semifinal to eventual champion Kohlschreiber. The only problem is that his draw isn’t taht good. He’s in a quarter with Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych, Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov. Even if he doesn’t get far he is one to watch.
Nishikori is also on a roll, he has won his eighth and ninth ATP titles this season, one in the Memphis Open and Barcelona Open. He was out for a while due to a calf injury during the grass court season, but it looks like he is back to his winning ways as he reached the final of the Citi Open, beating US Open champion Marin Cilic. That should be a huge confidence boost and points for him, and he should be raring to go in Montreal. Last year, Nishikori had an infected toe, so he missed both Masters in Toronto and Cincinnati, but soon after he rebounded and reached the final of the US Open, which was his first Grand Slam final. So there is a lot of promise here.