Sunday, 7 August 2011

ATP Montreal - The big names return...

While the women take to Toronto, the men are back in Montreal as the top four all return to action following a well deserved break after London. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray are joined by Gael Monfils, Mardy Fish, Tomas Berdych and Nicolas Almagro as the top eight seeds. They all have byes into Round 2.

The top seed and world number one, Novak Djokovic has a potentially difficult draw to open up his post-Wimbledon campaign. In the second round he could face Nikolay Davydenko; yes Davydenko is not the player he was but he can still be a challenging to get past on the hard courts. In round 3, Djokovic could take on Juan Martin Del Potro. I have tipped Del Potro to make some big ground over the next few weeks but I was disappointed by his early loss in Washington to Ernests Gulbis. I hope that the loss to Gulbis was just a blip however at this moment in time, I would have to back Djokovic to beat Del Potro.

Djokovic could play Del Potro in round 3; they last played in the third round of Roland Garros where Djokovic won in 4 sets

Djokovic is scheduled to meet Gael Monfils in the Quarters. Monfils will look to the third round where he could meet either Viktor Troicki, Marcos Baghdatis or John Isner. Isner and Baghdatis will square off in the first round and I would back Isner to progress. Isner has really come back to form following his impressive showing at Roland Garros to Rafael Nadal. I am predicting he will have a chance of revenge in the third round against Monfils, who he narrowly lost to in the Washington Semis.

In the second section of the top half, Roger Federer opens his campaign against either Juan Ignacio Chela or Jaroslav Pospisil. Federer could be set for a rematch with Jo-Wilfred Tsonga who famously came from two sets down to defeat Federer in the Wimbledon Quarters. Tsonga himself may have to get past the youngster, Bernard Tomic in Round 2. I would expect this time round that Federer will have enough to get past Tsonga in three sets.

Roger Federer will want revenge if he faces Tsonga again in the third round at Montreal

Federer is predicted to meet Nicolas Almagro in the Quarters. Almagro has had some good results on the clay this year but his form never quite translates to the hard courts. A potential third round meeting with the talented, Richard Gasquet is where I see his tournament ending. Almagro has won their last two encounters but both of them were on the clay. Gasquet has been extremely consistent this year and notched up a few big wins including a victory over Roger Federer in Rome. He could get another chance in the Quarters here...

In the third quarter, Andy Murray will open his campaign against either Kevin Anderson or Pablo Andujar. I would predict it will be the big serving Anderson, which should be routine for Murray. He should then meet the winner of an enticing first round clash between Stan Wawrinka and David Nalbandian. Both players have been patchy of late but I would back Nalbandian to come through that one.

Murray is seeded to meet Nadal in the Quarters

Murray is scheduled to meet Mardy Fish in the Quarters. Fish has a difficult opener against the tricky, Radek Stepanek who has progressed to the final in Washington. He also holds a 4-0 head-to-head record including a demolition earlier this year in Brisbane. I would therefore give the edge to Stepanek. Mikhail Youzhny is also in this section as is Gulbis. Gulbis signalled a return to form in Washington but i'm still wary of his consistency and would predict a third round match between Stepanek and Youzhny.

In the bottom half, Rafael Nadal will return against either Jeremy Chardy or Ivan Dodig. He has a pretty straightforward draw and will most likely play Fernando Verdasco in the 3rd round who he has a superior record over. His projected quarter-final opponent is Tomas Berdych who has been consistent and but shown no evidence of pushing on from his first grand slam final appearance at Wimbledon last year. Berydch could face the unorthodox, Alexander Dolgopolov in round 2 who I believe will be victorious. Giles Simon is also in this section of the draw and should reach at least the third round.

Rafael Nadal has the best draw of the top four seeds

This week for ATP Montreal, i'm backing Andy Murray for the title. Murray has played really well in his last visits to Canada and always shows his best form in the Masters 1000 events. I expect him to beat Djokovic in the final who he pushed all the way on the clay earlier this year in Rome.

Predicted Winner - Andy Murray

Predicted Quarter-final lineup:

Round 1 punts - Stepanek to beat Lopez (evens with most bookmakers) and Stakhovsky to beat Kohlschreiber (11/8 with most bookmakers)

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