The first of two back to back ATP Masters 1000 events begins in Montreal, Canada. The Rogers Cup event has rotated between Toronto and Montreal, with the WTA event taking place in the other city. The Big Four have held a tight grip on the title the past 10 years, with Andy Roddick the last player outside that group to win in Canada – in 2003. Looking to make it three in a row and four in total, Novak Djokovic leads the field. Roger Federer announced his withdrawal from the tournament recently which pushes Rafael Nadal into the fourth seed spot.
Full Draw Here: ATP Montreal Masters 2013 Draw
We could see a repeat of last year’s final in the top quarter of the draw if both seeds live up their billing. Djokovic will open against either Bernard Tomic or Florian Mayer. It was during his breakout run of 2011 that Tomic made a name for himself at Wimbledon, including taking a set off the almost unstoppable Djokovic in the quarter finals. However, Tomic has failed to push on from that tournament although he managed to make the second week of Wimbledon once more this year. Last week in Montreal, Juan Martin Del Potro had a fairly easy time against the Australian winning 3&3. Tomic does have two exhibition wins over Djokovic, although these should bare little relevance to what will happen should Tomic see off Mayer. The German leads the head to head 3-1, although Tomic won the last in straight sets on his way to the Sydney title.
The highly rated Filip Peliwo makes his ATP Tour debut and has a more than winnable tie against Jarkko Nieminen. Peliwo has pulled off a number of impressive results on the Challenger tour in recent weeks including a semi final in Lexington. Janko Tipsarevic or Denis Istomin awaits the winner and Tipsarevic looks prime once more for an upset after more disappointing losses in Bogota and Gstaad.
Richard Gasquet took advantage of the draw opening up for him last year to make the final but it looks highly unlikely he repeats the trick this time round although he should be fairly confident of advancing to at least the quarters. Martin Klizan is 0-5 on hard courts so far this year while Thomaz Bellucci has found it difficult since his return from injury, going 1-4. Gasquet holds a 2-0 record over likely third round opponent Kei Nishikori who was shocked by an inspired Marcos Baghdatis in Washington D.C. Nishikori begins with a qualifier that could include the likes of Ivo Karlovic, Jack Sock and Yen Hsun-Lu with Andreas Seppi or Lukas Rosol afterwards. Rosol leads the head to head over Seppi 2-1 but the out-of-form Czech will do well to reverse his five match losing streak.
The draw has been kind to Rafael Nadal, with a whole host of wildcards and qualifiers in his section. Jesse Levine plays Xavier Malisse in a match that looks to be wide open. Levine won their only meeting although that was 4 years ago in Indianapolis qualifying, the event which is now Atlanta. Countless injuries have stopped Frank Dancevic‘s charge up the rankings although he comes into this tournament in good Challenger form having taken the Granby title a few weeks back for the loss of just one set. Dancevic will play a qualifier with the winner up against either Julien Benneteau or Jerzy Janowicz. Janowicz had to retire from Hamburg a few weeks back but hopefully is fit enough to compete well here – the prospect of a Janowicz-Nadal third round is very interesting given the Pole’s performances against top 10 players to date in his career.
A semi finalist in Washington, Tommy Haas will be happy to see qualifiers are all that are in his way until the third round. In what looks like one of the ties of the first round Philipp Kohlschreiber takes on Benoit Paire with the winner facing Stanislas Wawrinka. Kohlschreiber and Paire’s first meeting was a memorable affair, with the German coming out on top in a fifth set tiebreak at the US Open last in a topsy turvy encounter. Wawrinka is projected to play Nadal in the quarter final, although given past history it won’t be much of a contest should it happen. Nadal has won 10 matches without losing a single set.
Tomas Berdych will be looking to improve on his third round exit (lost to Gasquet) from last year but it looks likely he will have to deal with at least one big server on his way through the tournament. Kevin Anderson awaits should the South African defeat Alexandr Dolgopolov, who has been terribly out of form and has won just 3 of his last 10. However, Anderson’s record against Berdych doesn’t make good reading with the Wimbledon defeat this year making it 9 defeats in 9 meetings. The last of the wildcard Canadian’s in Vasek Pospisil gets a difficult opener against John Isner, who is always difficult to defeat on North American hard courts in a best of three format. They have split their two matches to date, although both of them were on indoor courts. Nicolas Almagro has found it surprisingly difficult against Radek Stepanek in his career, going 1-3 against the veteran although he did win the only outdoor hard court meeting between the two in 2010. Their last meetings was just one of the heartbreaking losses that are becoming common for Almagro, who wilted under the pressure in the Davis Cup final last year during the decisive fifth rubber.
It was a third successive straight sets loss for Nikolay Davydenko in Washington D.C and he will have a tough task to avoid it becoming a fourth against an opponent with a head to head heavily in their favour. Gilles Simon is 5-2 during his career against the Russian and 2-0 on hard courts. Pablo Andujar will be playing with Rafael Nadal in the doubles but will remain focused on singles too with a qualifier to begin. Similarly, Michael Llodra will be playing a qualifier with third seed David Ferrer in the second round. Ferrer has found it easy in his meetings with the Frenchman, taking all three without the loss of a set.
If Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray wants to continue his 12 match winning run and end the Djokovic dominance in Canada he must fight his way through a tough draw. First up is either Marcel Granollers, who he suffered his last “loss” to, or Grigor Dimitrov. Dimitrov has yet to prove himself on a best of five format but can at least stay tough with top players in best of three. In his best of three matches this year against the Big Four, he has defeated Novak Djokovic once and took a set off Rafael Nadal while getting to a first set tiebreak in the other 3. Fabio Fognini is projected to be a third round opponent for Murray although it will be interesting to see how his excellent form translates to hard courts. Fognini saw 13 match winning streak ended by Tommy Robredo in the Umag final and has looked a completely different player since Wimbledon. He faces Marcos Baghdatis, who saw a totally different streak of his own ended in Washington, with his win over Lukas Lacko ending a 11 match losing streak. The winner will play Ernests Gulbis or Feliciano Lopez in round two. Gulbis leads the head to head 3-1 including a 6-3 6-2 victory at Indian Wells this year.
Milos Raonic is the biggest hope for the home fans although his form is currently not giving them anything to shout about. Raonic was dumped out of Wimbledon early by Igor Sijsling and again looked poor in defeat to Marinko Matosevic, including a second set tiebreak loss from *6-3 up. He may see his way past Jeremy Chardy but could face a tough time against Jurgen Melzer given the Austrian’s ability to deal with big servers. However, Melzer’s performance in Kitzbuhel gives little confidence of him making it past the opening round. Mikhail Youzhny has a 4-2 record over Melzer, with the last four matches all being won by the Russian.
Juan Martin Del Potro continues to improve as he pushes nearer to the form prior to his injuries of a few years back. He is in the Washington semi finals without losing a set and also managed to win a tiebreak against Kevin Anderson 7-0 – an outstanding feat made better by the fact it was against a big server like Anderson. He is the favourite to win the title and will come into the tournament in good form. He should find it fairly comfortable making the quarter finals where he would likely play Murray, in what promises to be one of the matches of the tournament should it happen. Del Potro trails the head to head 2-5 but was impressive in Indian Wells in defeating Murray on his way to the final. He begins against either Ivan Dodig or Grega Zemjla, both of which he has defeated twice without dropping a set.