One of the most unpredictable matches in the first round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto is the ninth encounter between swashbuckling Frenchman Gael Monfils and Czech No. 2 Radek Stepanek. Of their eight previous encounters, Monfils leads the head-to-head series 5-3, but Stepanek was victorious in their most recent encounter in the Citi Open final three years ago.
Gael Monfils has been out of action since his second round loss to Jiri Vesely at the Wimbledon Championships. Prior to that he had reached the quarter-final round of the French Open before losing to British No. 1 and world No. 10 Andy Murray. He was supposed to take part in the Atlanta and Washington tournaments over the past few weeks but was forced to withdraw from a lingering knee injury.
Unlike his French counterpart, Radek Stepanek got to enjoy a few weeks of hard court tournaments following the Wimbledon Championships but they did not reap fruitful results. Stepanek won his first two matches in Bogota before losing to Ivo Karlovic in the quarter-final round. He would then arrive in Washington and lose his first round match to Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri.
This is the ninth time these two athletes will cross paths on the ATP World Tour with Monfils leading the head-to-head series 5-3. He also leads the hard court series 4-2 but they are 1-1 on US soil. Considering Monfils is dealing with a knee injury and has not had the necessary pre-match training, Stepanek should be favoured to win this encounter to reach the second round.
Prediction: Radek Stepanek in Straight Sets