The Rogers Cup is the latest Masters 1000 series event (one step below a Slam), and although some big names have pulled out through injury, it still boasts a star-studded field. Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic are all absent, which leaves Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as the top two seeds.
Star quality is never far away though, with local favourite Milos Raonic in action alongside rising stars such as Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem as well as recent tournament winners Sam Querrey and John Isner. With the US Open just a few weeks away, this is a good chance to see which players are in form as the season’s final major looms into view.
Form and pointers
When it comes to form over the season, there is only one man to talk about, and that is Federer. He has only lost twice all year and was last in action when he romped to his 18th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. His 31-2 record makes him a clear favourite – with the bookmakers, the fans, and tennis experts.
Nadal has a 46-7 season record and as expected, dominated the clay court season. This is the start of his build-up to the US Open, and while he is more vulnerable here than on the red stuff, he will not be easy to dispatch. Watch his early matches to see how quickly he adapts to the hard court again.
Zverev wrapped up his fourth title of the season last week in Washington and boasts a 40-12 season record while Isner comes into the event on the back of winning titles in both Newport and Atlanta. Isner has a brutal first-round draw in Juan Martin del Potro, however. Querrey took his second title of the season when he won in Los Cabos last week and is on course for an early meeting with previous winner and easy to oppose Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
This tournament has a history of throwing up a mix of winners, partly because it alternates between Montreal and Toronto. Unlike some tournaments, you have to go back to 2010 for a repeat winner, when Andy Murray managed it. Tsonga, who won the event in 2014, is the most recent winner in the field, while Federer last won in Canada in 2006 (although he reached the final when Tsonga won). Nadal beat Raonic in 2013 for his third success, so he certainly knows how to win it. Those in form tend to well in Canada.
Looking at the draw, it is clear that Federer at the bottom has what looks like an easier route ahead of him. He plays either Peter Polansky or Vasek Pospisil in the second round, and the seeds in his half (Roberto Bautista Agut, Jack Sock, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori) are not in great form.
Nadal, on the other hand, could meet Isner or del Potro in the third round, Raonic in the quarters and then Zverev in the semis. That is almost as tough as it could get. Roared on by a home crowd, Raonic has a kind draw until the quarters while Zverev could face an early rematch of the Washington final if Kevin Anderson gets through to the quarter-finals in their section.
Thiem or Tomas Berdych should progress from the third section of the draw, but neither will likely threaten Federer. We therefore expect the quarter-finalists to be Nadal, Raonic/Isner, Zverev, Anderson/Querrey, Berdych, Thiem, Nishikori and Federer.
Betting and markets
Federer is the clear favourite in the outright market with Nadal, Zverev, Raonic, Nishikori and Thiem following behind. Federer is available at a best price of 33/20 with Bet Stars while several bookmakers have Nadal at 7/2. These two are so far ahead of the rest that third favourite Zverev is as long as 12/1 with Bet Victor.
Some bookmakers, such as Ladbrokes, have other markets available, allowing you to bet on, for example, which players will reach the final, which players will go furthest (match betting) and at what stage individual players will drop out. They make a Roger/Rafa final a 10/3 chance while a Federer/Zverev final is 13/2. It is worth a look if you think you have an idea of who will progress from each side of the draw.
There are the usual markets on every match throughout the tournament, allowing you to bet on the match-winner, correct scoreline bet, number of sets, the number of games, winner of the first set, and so on. We will be picking some of these in our daily Lucky 15 selections.
Federer has the benefit of a draw that looks easier to navigate, and he is in the form of his life. It would be a brave person to back against him at this point, so we are happy to tip him to win the tournament at odds of around 11/8.
While many may expect Nadal to come through and meet him in the final, I think his loaded half of the draw may just offer him more resistance than he can handle. I think he has been underpriced at around 100/30 and would avoid betting on him before he has hit a ball in anger.
We therefore recommend an each-way punt on Zverev at 12/1 with Skybet or taking the 13/2 Ladbrokes offer for a Federer/Zverev final.