Tennis Update Report and Preview
Professional tennis continues to prove that age is no barrier to achieving success at the highest level. After veteran Ivo Karlovic (aged 37) became the oldest winner of an ATP title since Marty Riessen in 1979 at Newport a fortnight ago, fourth seed Paulo Lorenzi (aged 34) continued this trend by landing his first ever ATP title at Kitzbuhel on Saturday, beating surprise package Nikoloz Basilashvili, ranked 123 in the world.
Top seed Feliciano Lopez (aged 34) also proved age is no barrier by reaching the final at Gstaad on Saturday and will attempt to win his first ATP title since 2014 today against 29 year old Robin Haase, who has not won a title on the ATP Tour since 2012. Elsewhere on the ATP Tour last week fourth seed Fabio Fognini bounced back to form reaching the final at Umag and will attempt to win his first ATP title since 2014 against surprise package and world number 126 Andrej Martin today.
At the time of writing 13th seed Ivo Karlovic had reached back-to-back finals at Washington and will attempt to win his first ever ATP 500 title against either second seed Gael Monfils or teenage sensation and seventh seed Alexander Zverev tonight.
On to this week’s action and the ATP Tour visits Canada for the only time of the season for the Rogers Cup Masters 1000 series, which is held in Toronto this year. The tournament switches between Montreal and Toronto each year and has been dominated by the world’s elite players over the last decade. Djokovic (3), Murray (3), Federer (1) and Nadal (2) have dominated the title over the last decade and the only player to break that domination in this period was Tsonga (seeded 13) in 2014.
The top seed has won three of the last ten titles (last time Djokovic 2012) and was a losing finalist twice in this period (last time Djokovic 2015). The second seed has won two of the last ten titles (last time Murray 2015) and they were a losing finalist once in this period (last time Federer 2014). Andy Murray does not return to defend his title this year preferring to focus on defending his Olympic title next month and, with Federer and Nadal also missing due to injury, top seed Novak Djokovic won’t get a better chance to win his fourth Rogers Cup and improve on his record of 29 Master Series title wins.
However, even with the likes of Murray, Federer and Nadal missing, Djokovic is going to need to be at his best to win this week as the top half of the draw is loaded with players who are more than capable of beating him if he has an off day such as fourth seed Raonic, fifth seed Berdych, seventh seed Goffin, ninth seed Isner and tenth seed Monfils.
From this group of players, 2013 Rogers Cup finalist Raonic (10/1) has to be respected after a superb year on tour, which culminated on his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon earlier this month. He’s already reached three Masters 1000 Series finals during his career and, with Murray, Federer and Nadal all absent, and Djokovic looking vulnerable after his shock Wimbledon exit, this could be the time Raonic finally breaks his Masters 1000 Series duck.
The bottom half of the draw looks wide open and, with second seed Stan Wawrinka out of form, Nishikori returning from injury and doubts surrounding Marin Cilic’s mental state after his capitulation from 2 sets to love up against Federer at Wimbledon, this could be the time that sixth seed Dominic Thiem (16/1) reaches his first major final. French players usually perform well at the Rogers Cup due to the support from the big French populations in Toronto and Montreal and 13th seed Lucas Pouille (100/1) is one of the hottest young properties on the ATP Tour at present. He’s verging on the world’s top 20, reached his first ATP final at Bucharest this year and is more than capable of progressing to the final if he produces his best tennis.