Daniil Medvedev will be the favorite this week to defend his title at the Canadian Open Masters. The stop in Montreal is the first of two Masters hard court events this month as we close in on New York.
The big story coming in are the withdrawals of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
If you are hoping Djokovic can play the US Open, keep dreaming. It’s not happening. He’s not getting in. We’ll see him at the Laver Cup in London and then the fall season when at least he’ll be fully rested.
Nadal, though, should be ready by then. That ab injury from Wimbledon still needs time so hopefully he gets back for Cincinnati if not New York.
Another former champion, Alexander Zverev, is also out still recovering from that tough ankle injury from the French Open.
So with the withdrawals, that leaves a mish-mash of a draw with Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and perhaps Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud as guys to watch out for. Maybe even Nick Kyrgios who’s enjoying the summer of his life.
DANIIL MEDVEDEV QUARTER
History says when Medvedev gets going he’s tough to stop. But his quarter is tricky with Kyrgios likely to start, Grigor Dimitrov in the third and Hubert Hurkacz in the quarters. Stan Wawrinka could face Hurkacz and the struggling Denis Shapovalov could rise up and challenge Dimitrov and then face Medvedev. The big showdown is Medvedev-Kyrgios likely Wednesday night. Both won titles this weekend but I’ll lean to Medvedev.
The Pick: Medvedev
CASPER RUUD QUARTER
Ruud is slowly finding his footing off of clay. But I don’t especially like his draw here with Mackenzie McDonald, then likely Jenson Brooksby (or Alexander Bublik). I think Roberto Bautista Agut emerges out to the quarters where he gets knocked out by Canadian No. 1 Felix Auger-Aliassime. Felix, who turns 23 tomorrow, should get by Cameron Norrie. It’s a tough section with Norrie opening against Brandon Nakashima in a 2021 Los Cabos final rematch.
The Pick: Auger-Aliassime
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS QUARTER
Tsitsipas is a former Canadian finalist but this year has been a mystery man. One week good, next week not so good. Or something like that. Days away from turning 24, I thought by now he’d have a better resume, but there’s still time. And with his game, he could explode at any moment. On the flip side is Jannik Sinner who has been on a slow but steady ascent. The Italian just notched another win over Alcaraz to claim his first clay title last month in Umag. I like Sinner to beat Matteo Berrettini in the third round (with that winner getting to the semifinals), and then topple Maxime Cressy who upsets Tsitsipas. That said, in this draw Berrettini, who is playing his first event on hard courts since Indian Wells, is the real wildcard for me. He could flame out or even win the title. But for now, I’ll take his more reliable countryman.
The Pick: Jannik Sinner
CARLOS ALCARAZ QUARTER
We are now in year two of Carlos Alcaraz who first came into view last summer. He’s now a solid Top 5 player and a strong contender for a future No. 1. But recently he’s cooled a bit, if you can call it that. Some shots have been errant, the drop shots aren’t on line as much and he’s showing some nerves here and there. But the hype is real and it won’t let up. Not anytime soon and not in Canada. In his debut in the north, I like his draw with Marin Cilic and then maybe Andrey Rublev in the quarters. Andy Murray is in there but opens against Taylor Fritz in one of the best first round matches — Taylor should prevail. In the end, I think Alcaraz manages the expectations and comes through.
The Pick: Carlos Alcaraz
Medvedev d Auger-Aliassime: I think Medvedev is just too strong on defense for the Canadian.
Alcaraz d Sinner: Sinner can’t win a third straight against Carlos, and the Spaniard keeps his North American hard court run going.
Medvedev d Alcaraz: What a final it would be. Defense against power but I’ll go defense here.
Again, no Big 3 but there’s a little separation I think with Medvedev and Alcaraz, then the next level maybe with Tsitsipas, Ruud, Sinner and perhaps Berrettini and now Kyrgios.
If Kyrgios, who just swept D.C., can pull of the Medvedev upset, he might be able to run the table. Though I get the feeling all these matches — singles and doubles — are going to catch up to the Australian. But based on the draw, there should be marquee matches each day starting with Fritz-Murray tomorrow.
Heat also won’t be a factor based on the forecast, but the rain could be.
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