7 Things I Think I Thought About Zverev’s Montreal Title, Federer’s Withdrawal From Cincy And No. 1
by Sean Randall | August 14th, 2017, 10:56 pm

Just two weeks from the start of the US Open, what a different landscape men’s tennis is today compared to a year ago. And it continues to change, almost daily. A day after falling in the final of the Canadian Open to wunderkind Alexander Zverev, Roger Federer withdrew from Cincinnati, a tournament he’s won seven times and an eighth would have returned him to the No. 1 ranking.

Instead, the top spot next Monday goes to Rafael Nadal who, of all the top guys this year, has…surprise…been the healthiest!

Some thoughts:

1. Alex The Great
It’s not news anymore, Alex is already great. And it’s not a question of if, but when, when he’ll win his first Grand Slam and when he becomes No. 1 in the world.

The 20-year-old has firepower all over the court. He still needs to get quicker, get smarter and also become more nimble at the net. He reminds me a lot of Juan Martin Del Potro just with a better backhand and better movement – though Delpo had the bigger forehand.

He’s now equalled Federer with five titles on the season taking the last two Masters events. And he’s not done yet. There will be more.

2. The Federer Back
A smart move for Roger to not play Cincinnati – I don’t know if he would have played had he been healthy and won Montreal.

Sure, the No. 1 ranking is in play, but it’s not going to be won in Cincinnati. Roger knows if he wins the US Open that should do it when you consider the Swiss will have a huge edge anyway over Nadal down the stretch at the indoor events and the ATP Finals.

Again, Federer’s still playing at this age because he’s been smart about his schedule through the years. He’s the “GOAT of Scheduling” and not to push himself when injured.

It’s tempting to take an extra swing at No. 1, but long term taking this week off will pay off.

That said, we just don’t know how bad this injury is. But he’s got two weeks to get ready, and that worked out back in 2012 when he hurt his back in Doha just before reaching the semifinals at the Australian Open. But he is 36 now.

3. The Injured
Unfortunately, this is going to be a story for the rest of the year.

The Federer back, Novak Djokovic done for the year with an elbow, Stan Wawrinka done for year with a knee, Andy Murray a hip. There’s also Marin Cilic with an adductor and Kei Nishikori has a wrist.

So what’s happening? Well, guys are older than ever and bigger than ever. Federer, Djokovic and Murray are all in their 30s.

Today’s Top 5 is all 30-plus, and that’s never happened before until this past May. So naturally, the older you are the more likely you are to be injured. Add to that the physical, punishing nature of the sport and the bigger, stronger players which is much different than it was 25 years ago, and it’s no wonder we see this many wounded and wobbly.

But tennis is going to younger, a lot younger led by Zverev, the Russian kids and even the new Canadian star…

4. Denis Shapovalov Shocker
After his spirited semifinal run in Canadian, you have to put 18-year-old Denis Shapovalov in the mix of future Grand Slam contenders, maybe even a champion.

The Canadian has a wicked lefty serve, a huge forehand and a serviceable backhand. And in the mold of a Lleyton Hewitt, he’s a true warrior. He digs in and doesn’t let go. Fights until the end as we saw in the semifinal against Zverev.

His win over Rafael Nadal Thursday night was incredible. Saving break points in the third, then coming from 3-0 down in the breaker to win 6 of the last 7 points was a breathtaking treat. And then somehow he backed it up beating Adrian Mannarino also from a set down.

His countryman Milos Raonic possesses far more firepower and weaponry, but Shapovalov has the “it” factor and brings real energy and excitement to the game.

He’s gonna be a good one.

5. Rafa’s Second Half Swoon?
It’s not always the case, but more often than not Rafael Nadal’s results tend to wane after Wimbledon. It’s no coincidence either, the tour goes hard. And Nadal hasn’t won a title on the hard stuff since 2014 Doha. A long time ago.

But with the injuries to his peers, that should help his cause these last three months. However, in that loss to Shapovalov we saw some of the old Rafa. Poor misses. Doubts in his game. Short balls.

And after a very strong start to 2017, his last two events have been a fourth round at Wimbledon and third round in Canada.

With all the withdrawals, this is a prime chance for Nadal to finally get another hardcourt win. Will he take advantage?

6. Cincy No Cinch
With just 4 of the Top 10 in Cincinnati, the event is Nadal’s to lose. But he opens against Richard Gasquet, then a potential Wimbledon rematch with Muller before a possible JW Tsonga in the quarters. Then maybe Sam Querrey in the semifinals.

On the other side of the draw, the third quarter is loaded with Raonic, Zverev and John Isner. If Zverev still has gas left in the tank, I think he could run through that section, otherwise maybe Isner emerges.

Unfortunately, in the Federer-vacated bottom quarter Del Potro has to battle Berdych in the first. Otherwise, with Dimitrov the lone Top 9 seed it’s a really open section.

So Rafa has a really tough draw. He’s got No. 1. He sees everyone injured. Does he worry ahead of the US Open or does he go for it?

7. Two Weeks From The US Open
Rafael Nadal will be the top seed. But will Murray return? And if he does, how fit will he be after missing the entire summer hard courts?

Federer is a question mark. Nishikori has a wrist and former champion Cilic is also in doubt.

If Murray plays, he’ll be the two seed, then Federer and probably Zverev. And who knows, if Zverev runs the summer table – like Patrick Rafter, Andy Roddick and I think Del Potro did – maybe he gets in the No. 1 mix.

It sounds crazy, but it’s already been a crazy year.

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34 Comments for 7 Things I Think I Thought About Zverev’s Montreal Title, Federer’s Withdrawal From Cincy And No. 1

Andrew Miller Says:

Mr. Randall a lot of good stuff here. I’ll put out a few too. I’m not sure about Zverev Alex and best of five matches. Conditions in Montreal seemed even less harsh than Toronto for the ladies, more or less ideal tennis weather. For best of two sets. New York is a different venue, and I don’t recall Zverev Alex having fantastic results in slams – yet. So he’s going to have to prove himself there. For now he’s becoming a king of best of three set matches, and doing a very fine job scaring the heck out of his peers and the big five alike.

Adding to this – Shapovalov. He was truly brilliant, wielding a backhand that recalled very few lefties. Laver? Leconte? Feliciano Lopez in his dreams? But he was also in front of a partisan crowd, a dream come true, and Davis Cup conditions. Now we know he loves a crowd, but not every tournament is in Canada. He’s had some wins in the States, even great wins after winning Wimbledon Juniors in the UK, but most big tournaments aren’t in Canada. And outside of Canada, only one Canadian rules. And that’s Monaco resident Milos Raonic.

That said…great game. Most control I’ve seen for a lefty since never – Verdasco at the 2009 Australian? Lopez at Queens club? Not Nadal – Nadal is a converted lefty who writes with his right hand, so he has the equivalent of two forehands.

As for Nadal, we already know he felt he lost his chance at Wimbledon, and he entered his first hard court tournament at a venue he won in Montreal, playing pretty well. He’s a guy who remembers his losses, and not unlike Federer he figures out every player after a loss. So i cant write off this newly minted number one again. I cant believe it, but here he is again. And at Wimbledon i could hardly believe how well he was playing. He’ll be fine, even if he may lose again in Cincy.

As to generation now as i think tennis magazine referred to them as, i think it’s more like a new world of players making themselves known on the summer circuit. I doubt they know how to manage a slam venue yet, but they are here to stay.

One group that hasn’t been mentioned, the USA contingent. The men have had quite a summer so far, locking up two tournaments and doing some damage in DC before Zverev Alex won yet another title. They should do much better in Cincinatti, with Sock, Querrey, Isner, Harrison Ryan and many others from Tommy Paul to Donaldson to rising college senior Chris Eubanks doing well. Same too Steve Johnson and Donald Young, who aren’t going as far in tournaments as they want to yet this summer, but who are hitting a fine ball nonetheless. This is as good a year as any to find yourself in the second week of the us open or later rounds in Cincy. And given these boys are like Shapovalov with a partisan crowd behind them, we’ll have to believe they feel they have a good shot to put in a few epic matches

Daniel Says:

Agree, for Zverev next big steep is a deep run in a Slam. He should get the $4 seed for USO and a semis is possible. He bnever went beyond R16 in any Slam. If he wants to contend for Slams and be #1 some day (2019 or beyond) he will have to find a way to go deep in Slams.

As for Nadal, can´t see him losing to Gasquet (which he neve did) nor Muller again. On grass Muller games wa smuch more effectvive. So Nadal is sure in QF. From there on in a fast HC as Cincy anything can happen best of three. He sure is the favourite, but not a shoe in for the title.

t4t Says:

I don’t think Cincy is faster than Toronto/Montreal. In fact according to ATP, Canada is a tiny bit faster.

Daniel Says:

t4t, Cincy was always highlithed as the fastest court on tour. At least that’s what I heard by commentors since ealry 2000. Don’t know if the balls and summer conditons makes it faster then “court speed” only, but sure is low boucing as well.

DelPo seems to don´t have a break with draws, Berdych if first round. All year he did´t get a soft 2 rounds to get himself grooved. But hoping he can beat Berdy. if he passes that his draw may open up. The winner of this match could be in semis (QF versus Dimitrov, if Dimi recahes that far)

skeezer Says:

Correct. Cinci is the fastest on tour:


10:25 post. Fake news….again.

James Says:

Federer was a bit stiff right from the beginning of the montreal final – not bending down for some easy slices, not going after some balls he would normally go for, serve just so-so. Then, of course, the second set run around tweaked what was there.

It didn’t seem horrible, though there is no way for me or anyone else here to really know. I feel he was just being cautious in the beginning too. He thought if Zverev comes out flat, he could make a move. Zverev came out the opposite – on fire. So he just hung in there, didn’t exert much, still managed to get a bit injured. Most likely a few days of rest and rehab should do it. After all, he has at least 15 days till his next match – and then its a rest day between matches.

I think these daily matches are tougher on the old man. Best of 5 – his experience matters, opponents have to win 3 sets, rest day in between – I am still hopeful he will be fit for the USO. the smile on his face at trophy presentation was genuine, he didn’t seem in pain.

Pamela Says:

James – very good post. I agree. It seemed like Roger was more like the roger from 2014 when he was hurt and not telling anyone. His usual graceful ballet like movement was gone… My heart broke for him, but you’re right. He has 2 weeks to recuperate and hopefully, he will be back at the US Open.. It’s sad that he’s missing Cinci for the 2nd year in a row. this was a great tournament for him and I heard the family was there on Sunday waiting for him. They do have one of the best clinics there (Cleveland Clinic??) not sure if I am remembering the name correctly. Also, maybe (if there is a cup half filled) better it’s his back and not the knee… it would be AMAZING to see Roger back at #1…. regardless, this has been a great 2017 for him so far. He had an excellent chance of being young Zverev had he been healthy….. oh well…. we must look to the US Open. And yes, he had a smile on his face accepting the award, but remember…. Federer is the king of poker faces…. everyone did get a good laugh when Sasha told Roger he would have many good years left. Even Roger had a chuckle over that one…. we can always hope from Zverev’s mouth to God’e ears…. Zverev, is definitely a future #1

SG1 Says:

Shapovalov is going to be very good but I think Aliassime is going to be even better. In about 3-5 years Canada may have the best Davis Cup team in the world. Exciting to think about being a Canadian.

SG1 Says:

Zverev is an excellent player and I also believe he’ll win slams. But, his win over Federer wasn’t an accurate reflection of where he stands next to Federer. I watched the highlights of the final. Federer was not in a good place physically. A completely healthy Federer still beats Zverev. Zverev barely scraped by Shapovalov. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.

Daniel Says:

Agree James, in 2012 Fed hurt his back in Wimbleodn firts rounds and with the days in between and navigating throught the draw he was in shape by the end. Off course, back than he was 30-31.

But still think the format favors him. AO/IW/Miami/Wimbedlon he won and are the tourney he played with longer strecthes. IW and Miami have same ealry roudns day rest before final 3 days in a row.

He probably will get at least 2 easy matches in early rounds (as #3 or #2 seed if Murray doesn´t play). Unless he gest bad luck and draw a grinder ealry on (Verdasco, Ferrer..), so he will have more time to fine tune his game. 5 matches in Montreal was already good practice on HC and even losing the final, the score was not a washout, so he klnows where his game stands with Zverev.
He also knows where his game stands with Nadal, although he did not play after RG victory Nadal, and if Nadal wins cincy his confidence will be sky high for USO (letting the ghost of no HC title in 3,5 years behind him).

So, unless his injury is really bad (as it doesn’t seems the case now), he should be fine for a deep run in USO.

Daniel Says:

In the meantime, Delpo about to Bagel Berdych on third set, hope he gets a deep run here, he can actually play finals if Zverev falters, as that side of the draw is pretty open now.

Humble Rafa Says:

After “No” from Wimbledon and the FO, it’s not surprising that the US open will give Shriekapova a wild card. She pulls in fans. Cheatopova or not. Money wins.

Giles Says:

Raonic withdraws with wrist injury.

skeezer Says:

Ok. So I count Fed, Murray, Novak, Cilic, Nishikori, and Roanic out. Anyone else?

Willow Says:

Humble Rafa i agree with you on that one about Sharapova ….

Willow Says:

Feds not out is he, or Murray ?….

skeezer Says:

Oops forgot Wawa.
So Rafa is playing in a Tournament where 7 out of the top 10 are NOT playing.
Cupcake……with a candle?

Willow Says:

Oh i was thinking too far ahead with the USO, anyway i hope they are all fit for the USO, i know some of them wont be though obviously ….

Truth Says:

Give Fed a new 20-year sportsmanship award trophy.
This “special man” said Djoker was a joke that deserved ridicule from his lapdog Roddick.
Poor Swiss shouldn’t have showed up to play when not 100%… After all, everyone loves the honest idol.
Fed lectured about being authentic, indirectly on ESPN to only GOAT Djoker, but was too scared to say that to Djoker. Then he said he, himself, played when he was injured.

Only Fed fans applaud when Fed fakes sincerit, lucks out in cupcake draws and tanks matches. I wonder why.

J-Kath Says:

Oh dear. Judy MurrAY HAS SAID THAT SHE DOES NOT BELIEVE aNDY will not play tournaments much longer. (Apologies for the capital letters – not intended – re-positioned my computer and having to sort out hiccups. Goodbye Andy — Even if it is a few months from now – I will miss you tremendously. Oh dear, I’m not a happy bunny.

J-Kath Says:

Apolgies for the double negative. However, it feels that way for me.

rognadfan Says:

At Montrael Rafa had a cupcake draw (ok without the handle there). Unfortunately, the paper at the bottom of the cake was very stuck hard with the cake making him choke.
So, cupcake or not, it’s still a challange for rafa to fully swallow that cake. At least that’s been the cake (I mean case..) on hard courts since 2014.

Truth Says:

Fraud swallowed cupcake draws and grabbed fake sportsmanship awards.
Nothing about Fed is real.
Nadal is not the kind I love the most but he knows Fed acted fake and arrogant when the weak era idiots drooled & coddled Fed.
Fed tried to distract people when he was called fake and smug but Wawrinka & Djoker know the truth. You can’t trust moron Roddick for judging character. He tried to beat the GOAT Djoker. LMAO✌️👅

t4t Says:

@skeezer specializes in misleading others. Even as per the link he posted, Toronto is faster with index of 35.2 against Cincy with 35.1. Cincy in any case is not the fastest. Shanghai is 44.1 ( as per the update in that article). I think skeezer is counting on nobody reading that article and by confidently declaring that Cincy is the fastest, he expects people will not call his bluff.
tut tut skeezer, I expected better from you!

t4t Says:

J-Kath, from what I read, Judy thinks Andy is not likely to be playing for long.
But I remember reading long ago, Venus’ father saying that Venus would stop playing at 25 and here she is at 37 still playing.
So cheer up and hope Judy is as wrong as Richard Williams was.

skeezer Says:


J-Kath Says:


Thank you for trying to cheer me up. Very kind of you. I’d like to be convinced. But not sure Andy is ever going to recover sufficiently to make it worthwhile coming back.

madmax Says:

J-Kath Says:
Oh dear. Judy MurrAY HAS SAID THAT SHE DOES NOT BELIEVE aNDY will not play tournaments much longer. (Apologies for the capital letters – not intended – re-positioned my computer and having to sort out hiccups. Goodbye Andy — Even if it is a few months from now – I will miss you tremendously. Oh dear, I’m not a happy bunny.

August 15th, 2017 at 6:08 pm

J-Kath, stop this please. It is Andy who will give out the facts, not an opinion of his mother. I understand you are feeling sad, but I think it is way too premature to start shedding tears and being negative.

Wait until you hear something officially. I have not heard anything official, just gossip and opinion. You are far too intuitive to let this guide you.

J-Kath Says:

Madmax: Thank you for u’re response.

Alas, Judy’s comments will be a reflection of what is being discussed at chez-Murray’s.

I’m discussing with myself which player will next gain my allegiance…..I like the “tortured soul” types – maybe Nole is closest to my needs.

t4t Says:

skeezer, no apologies from you for misleading the public?

Markus Says:

Court speed is not the only factor to consider. It is not as simple as that. There are other variables to consider including altitude, drag, Magnum force, etc.

Truth Says:

Skeezer disappears when facts hit him like “Fed Express train”, and his idol Fed gets humiliated by strong opponents 5+ times. (GOAT Fed, you know).
He & his few Murray fan “friends” even avoid any mention of weak era Hall of Fame inductees.
Strange, those young legends in 2003-2006 would’ve been so proud of losing to Fed.👀
They were so “gifted and talented”, after all.

Skeezer tried to excuse Fed losses in Montreal by complaining about slower speed & darkness. Was Fed upset about Roddick beating him after Fed led 4-2 in the third set in 2003??
Have you seen Djoker whining so much about players, court speed and weather in the strong 2011-2017 era?
Of course not. He isn’t in the weak era like Fed & Roddick was.

Andrew Miller Says:

Every tournament is different, courts weather balls etc. Part of the charm of the sport. And part of what makes the rule of the big four, five atp stars so amazing.

Andrew Miller Says:

I’ll give Alex Zverev this, he’s enjoying the sport more and the crowds more, which is only going to help him more and can get him a fan following. That’s going to come in handy against players in the early rounds of slams with nothing to lose and help him get to the second week of slams more often.

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