It looks like another good schedule today at the Montreal Masters with Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Gael Monfils and Jo Tsonga on the courts.
Of course the big match of the day is the evening encounter between Nadal and David Ferrer. The match will be Nadal’s first singles contest since his loss to Robin Soderling just over two months ago, although Rafa did curiously compete in doubles Monday and Tuesday (he and coach Francisco Roig lost last night).
I said at the start that Nadal could be in for trouble early in this comeback and if Ferrer can play like the Ferrer of old – that is get a lot of balls back, return serve well and attack at the right times – he has a great chance today.
Nadal has won seven of their 10 meetings, but Rafa’s 1-2 on hardcourts vs. Ferrer who has won their most recent cement meetings at the 2007 Masters Cup and the 2007 US Open.
That said, I’m tempted to go out on a limb and take Ferrer, but I’m just not sure he’s playing with the confidence needed to finish the job. So a slight lean to Rafa in this one.
Also today, I think the faster courts in Montreal will propel my man Monfils over Ferrero, Roddick over Igor Andreev and Tsonga blasts Rainer Schuettler.
Juan Martin del Potro debuts today (is this his first match in Canada?) against Jan Hernych and we fans also are treated to another Fernando Gonzalez-Tommy Haas battle.
As for earlier results, not surprisingly, the top guys didn’t look all that great yesterday. Roger Federer went 7-6, 6-4 with 33-year-old Freddy Niemeyer while Novak Djokovic also struggled against a Canadian, getting pushed similarly by Peter Polansky 6-4, 7-6.
However, my pick to win this title, Andy Murray, showed no signs of rust hammering on the talented Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-2.
I also have to mention the women’s event in Cincinnati where Kim Clijsters is making her comeback. Clijsters of course defeated the 13th-ranked Marion Bartoli in her first match back in a couple of years. Credit to Kim, but the result is pretty remarkable when you consider just a few weeks ago Bartoli was beating up on Venus Williams, and now she can’t get over on someone who hasn’t played in two years! Is Kim that tournament tough already, or was Marion just that nervous? I’d lean to the latter, but that’s women’s tennis.
And for Clijsters, while on paper her draw looks scary, perhaps it really isn’t when you consider that she may have the WTA’s finest mental head cases on her path. She just beat Bartoli and now it’s onto Patty Schnyder this afternoon, then Sveta Kuznetsova in the third round followed by Dinara Safina in the quarterfinals. These are all girls who don’t want to play/lose to someone like Clijsters who hasn’t competed in two years and has zero pressure!
That all said, Schnyder could take her out in a few hours but then again I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Belgian in the semifinals. Hell, I could see Dinara simply withdrawing before having to even take the court against Kim in the quarters. Wouldn’t that be fun? Nerves…What a wonderful thing.
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