Friday, August 04, 2017

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal top 2 seeds at Rogers Cup Montreal

In a sight that many tennis fans wouldn’t have expected at the start of the season, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are once again the top seeds at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event as the Coupe Rogers kicks off next week in Montreal. It marks the first time since 2009 that Federer and Nadal have held the top two spots in Canada.

Federer and Nadal have won four of the five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events held this year. The Swiss star won both hard-court events in Indian Wells and Miami, while Nadal prevailed in Monte-Carlo and Madrid.

Should Nadal reach the semi-finals in Montreal, he will unseat Andy Murray for the top spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Winning the title on Sunday would also have the Spaniard break a tie with Novak Djokovic and set a new record for most ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles won (31). Federer won't be able to take No. 1 this week, but he could take it later during this American hard-court swing as he and Nadal are in a hot two-way battle for year-end No. 1 honours.

Second seed Federer looks to build on his second Grand Slam title of the year at Wimbledon by winning his first title in Canada since 2006. Federer, who has a first-round bye, is guaranteed to open his week against a Canadian when he plays the winner between wild cards Vasek Pospisil and Peter Polansky. Looming ahead is a possible third-round clash with 15th seed Jack Sock and quarter-final battle with fifth seed and 2016 runner-up Kei Nishikori.

Federer leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Nishikori 5-2 and has won their past four matches, including a five-set win this year in the fourth round of the Australian Open. He also leads the rivalry with Sock 3-0 and has yet to drop a set to the American, including in their most recent match this March at the BNP Paribas Open.

Meanwhile, top seed Nadal has a bye in the opening round and will start his campaign against Borna Coric or a qualifier/lucky loser. His draw doesn’t get easier from there, with other potential roadblacks including red-hot 14th seed John Isner or Juan Martin del Potro in the third round and home favourite Milos Raonic, seeded sixth, in the quarter-finals.

If Federer and Nadal make it to the final, it would be their first meeting in Canada. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 23-14, but Federer has won their past four matches and all three encounters in 2017. Nadal leads 12-6 in their ATP World Tour Masters 1000 matches.

Third seed Thiem is in the same half of the draw as Federer and kicks off his Montreal quest against Diego Schwartzman or a qualifier/lucky loser. The Austrian will be eager to rebound after squandering a match point this week in his third-round loss to Kevin Anderson at the Citi Open.

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev is in the same half of the draw as Nadal and starts out against local wild card Brayden Schnur or Richard Gasquet. The 20-year-old German clinched his maiden ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown this May in Rome (d. Djokovic).

The most intriguing first-round match will be between Isner and del Potro, with the American riding an eight-match win streak after back-to-back titles this past month in Newport and Atlanta. Other notable first-round matches include Gilles Muller taking on Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson facing Gael Monfils.

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