Monday, August 10, 2015

Some Thoughts Early In the Week At The Montreal Masters

Roger Federer may be resting, but most everyone else will be trying to get some valuable ranking points and momentum for the US Open at this week's Montreal Masters.  Below are some thoughts as the top players return to action at the biggest tournament since Wimbledon.

Djokovic will be looking to send a message:  Just like in 2014 Novak Djokovic enters Canada as the Wimbledon champion, but he'll be looking to avoid a repeat of the slip up he suffered last year in Canada and Cincinnati.  It's impossible to tell what effect if any his early losses last year had on his US Open semifinals defeat, but it may have given the rest of the field the belief that he was beatable.  Djokovic will be looking to remind the field that he's simply a level above everyone else, and he'll have his guard up after what happened last year.  His 2015 has been nearly flawless, and barring another in the zone performance by Wawrinka it's hard to see anyone stopping him in Montreal

Will any Americans make some noise?  John Isner has been the leading American man so far this summer, but it's not likely he'll have much left in Montreal after deep runs in Atlanta and Washington D.C.  Isner's draw isn't bad if he's able to give it a go, but three weeks in a row is probably too much for the big man.  Jack Sock has had a somewhat disappointing summer, and has a chance to win a few matches before facing Djokovic in the Round of 16.  Donald Young already has beaten Denis Kudla, but has to face Tomas Berdych in his next match.  Sam Querrey also already won his first round match, and could play Steve Johnson next if Johnson is able to upset David Goffin.  Johnson had a nice run in Washington D.C., and could put a scare into the world number 14.  The best bet to make the quarters is probably Johnson or Querrey, on the hope that Nishikori is a bit worn down from winning the title in D.C. last week.     

Can Thiem carry his momentum to North America?  One of the most exciting players of the summer has been 21 year old Dominic Thiem, who won two 250s on the European clay and made the semis of another.  He's up to 18 in the world, and is at 14 in the points race.  He's clearly supremely talented, but the next question is whether he's ready to become a contender at the big events.  Montreal is as good of a place to start as any, and a quarterfinal matchup against Djokovic would be a great test to see where he stands against the world's best. 

If Djokovic slips up, who will be ready to take advantage?  Djokovic is certainly the favorite, but if he doesn't come to Montreal ready to play there are a handful of others who could be ready to step up.  Murray is the second seed, but lost early in Washington D.C.  He should be more prepared for Montreal, and will be looking for momentum to jump start his summer.  Wawrinka and Raonic haven't played since Wimbledon and could be dealing with rust, but are always some of the most dangerous players on tour.  Nadal will be hoping his good form in Hamburg carries over to hard courts, but he's still a bit of a question mark.  If Nishikori has enough left after a tiring week in Washington he'll be a threat as well.  But if Djokovic does somehow fall early like last year, Murray is clearly the next best bet to win the title in Montreal

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