Rogers Cup 2012: Men’s draw preview and analysis
August 4, 2012 · Print This Article
With no Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal present at the this year’s Rogers Cup, the Toronto event will be left without two of the men responsible for winning this title four out of the last year eight years. Roger is still in London plugging way at his first Gold Medal in singles, while Rafa’s knees aren’t quite where they need to be in order for him to return to competition. His absence—along with the juggernaut that is the Olympic Games—could very leave this year’s champion as an unseeded or unknown player.
Andy Roddick, David Ferrer and Fernando Verdasco are also out of the event because of the Olympics, leaving Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray as the top two seeds. But with Djokovic and Murray still in London competing at the Games, and a quick-fire transition from grass to hard-courts needed—a surface they haven’t competed on since March—Toronto’s draw could be the most open in recent memory.
An under-practiced top two seeds could allow the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic a real chance at the title. Tsonga and Raonic will forever share the distinction of playing the longest set in Olympic history (25-23 for Tsonga), and I’m pretty sure they’ve seen enough of each other until 2015.
Berdych, to me, has been the biggest disappointment thus far this summer. I picked him to do big things at Wimbledon and the Olympics, and both times he was dusted in the first round by unheralded opponents. Do I dare pick him again here?
The towering Czech holds all the cards to win this title as well as a slam, but trying to figure out what type of mood he’s in—or what his form will be from day to day—is truly a challenging feat.
Nevertheless, Berdych shouldn’t be underestimated this week, simply because he’s done well here before and plays well on asphalt.
How about the prospects of Mardy Fish?
The American seems to always flourish during the North American summer, and there’s no reason why this summer should be any different. Fish, who made the finals in Montreal last year, will be eager and motivated to defend his 600 points.
With that being said, let’s now take a look at how Fish and the other 47 men in the field will fare.
Defending a ton of points from last year’s terrific summer will start all over again for Djokovic in Toronto. Fresh off of a full stay in London, Djokovic will begin his campaign on Wednesday against either Bernard Tomic or a qualifier. I saw Tomic warming up with his coach earlier today, and he was quite vocal that the courts are playing gritty like the Aussie Open.
If Djokovic gets by the young Aussie, he’ll likely meet Nishikori in the third-round and either Simon or del Potro in the quarters.
We’re all well aware that most of the guys in this half will be tired and a guy like Florian Mayer, who plays well with no fanfare around him, could turn a few heads and make the semis.
Tsonga, Cilic and Tipsarevic are also here, and both Tsonga and the second ranked Serb have semifinals points to defend from last year.
Taking that all into consideration, I’m going to stay with the unpredictability of this event and go with Djokovic and the slice and dice German to advance.
Best first-round match in this half: Tommy Haas vs. David Nalbandian.
Picks: Djokovic, Mayer
Winning this title two out of the last three years, Murray has a great opportunity to gain on the zero points he was dealt after losing in the second-round last year. Having to regroup after playing the Gold medal match on Sunday, Murray will start off against one of two qualifiers, before having to deal with Raonic in round three.
If there was ever a time for Raonic to win this event—irrespective of the fact that he’s only 21—it would be this year. Playing the winner of Troicki or Bogomolov Jr., Raonic would need to get through Murray for the second time this year, before a potential showdown with Isner in the quarters.
The top part of this half features an inform Monaco, hard-court comfortable Fish, a flaky Gasquet, and an even more flaky Berdych.
By now you know how I feel about Berdych, and even though I respect Monaco’s work ethic tremendously, he lacks the pop off his serve and forehand to win big titles.
However, like Raonic, Monaco has a real chance to do some damage here in a relatively weaker Masters 1000 draw.
But can we expect the Argentine to realistically defeat Fish in the third-round?
I’m not one hundred convinced on Monaco’s chances here, so I’ll stay with last year’s finalist and the hometown hero.
Picks: Fish, Raonic
Champion: Djokovic defeats Raonic