Roger Federer will try to repeat as Rogers Cup champion in Montreal. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)
2007 Rogers Cup
Last Updated Fri., Aug. 3, 2007
After a bit of a layoff, Roger Federer will return to action when the 2007 Rogers Cup kicks off this weekend in Montreal.
The world No. 1 has been on sabbatical since winning his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title in early July, but now Federer, who won last year's Rogers Cup in Toronto, is looking to prepare for the U.S. Open.
A strong showing in Montreal would allow the Swiss star to build some momentum and work out the rust ahead of the U.S. Open, the final Grand Slam tournament of the season scheduled for Aug. 27 to Sept. 9 in New York.
It won't be easy, though, as the Rogers Cup has produced a slew of major upsets over the years.
Here's a look at the top players to keep an eye on, along with analysis from CBC Sports tennis analyst Peter Burwash.
Tournament seed: Wild card
Dancevic, 22, jumped 17 places in the recent ATP rankings, to No. 92, after reaching the final of the Indianapolis Tennis Championships in late July. The native of Niagara Falls, Ont., upset world No. 5 Andy Roddick in the semifinal before losing to Russian Dmitry Tursunov. Previously, Dancevic had never reached an ATP quarter-final, and in Montreal the young Canadian will be looking to build on his strong performance at the Indianapolis tournament.
Burwash's take: "Playing in front of the home crowds for Canadians has been tough. Generally, there's a self-induced pressure. I think what is great for someone like Dancevic is that his showing in Indianapolis takes him to another level of self-confidence that traditionally the Canadian players have not had."
Roger Federer — Switzerland
Tournament seed: No. 1
The world No. 1 and reigning Rogers Cup champion has been inactive since Wimbledon, so he's bound to be a bit rusty. Still, he's the best tennis player on the planet and Federer, who's won this tournament two of the last three times and sports a 36-5 record this year, has to be considered the favourite.
Burwash's take: "Roger is a muti-surface guy. He brings so much to the table, especially his tremendous diversity. He is the most versatile player on the tour. Federer has been upset in Canada before, but he has this knack for digging out of holes."
Rafael Nadal — Spain
Tournament seed: No. 2
After losing to Federer in the Wimbledon final, Nadal quickly rebounded by winning the Mercedes Cup clay tournament in Stuttgart, Germany. The Spaniard is a clay-court specialist, so it will be interesting to see how his ailing left foot, which has bothered him since 2004, will hold up to the pounding on North American hard courts — in Montreal and in New York at the U.S. Open.
Burwash's take: "Nadal has, by far, the best defensive game on the tour and when you go into windy conditions [like in Montreal] and you look at the fact a lot of guys are coming into this tournament a bit rusty, you very seldom see Nadal look rusty for more than a game. He has this phenomenal ability to play a really tough game when things are not going well."
ON THE RISE
John McEnroe calls Novak Djokovic "the real deal". (Hrvoje Polan/Getty Images)Novak Djokovic — Serbia
Tournament seed: No. 3
The talented Serb reached the semifinals of Wimbledon, has climbed to No. 3 in the ATP rankings and is considered one of the hottest young players on the men's tour. He plays with a confidence and maturity well beyond his 20 years, leading no less of an authority than John McEnroe to refer to him as "the real deal" in a recent conference call with Canadian reporters.
Burwash's take: "I think Djokovic is the one player on the tour that has the most confidence. Djokovic is oozing with confidence. He's 20 years old, he's very sound and he isn't easily intimidated — he's beaten both Federer and Nadal — so facing the top seeds doesn't bother him. He's someone who, when players look at the draw they say to themselves, 'that's not a fun match.' He's very consistent."
ON THE SLIDE
Fernando Gonzalez — Chile
Tournament seed: No. 6
It's been an up-and-down 2007 season for the Chilean. Gonzalez reached the finals of the Australian Open and the Masters Series in Rome, but he was also upset in the early rounds of the French Open, Wimbledon and last month's Los Angeles Classic, suffering losses to opponents that he should have easily defeated.
Burwash's take: "I'm surprised he hasn't done as well, as of late. I've been surprised by some of the losses he's had recently."
Tomas Berdych — Czech Republic
Tournament seed: No. 10
The Czech star has played some solid tennis this season — including winning a grass tournament in Germany in June — and reached the quarter-final of Wimbledon. Berdych has climbed to No. 10 in the recent ATP rankings.
Burwash's take: "Berdych is another guy who players don't like to face."
PETER BURWASH'S TAKE ON THE ROGERS CUP
"The Canadian tournaments have always been upset-ridden as there have been victories achieved by players who have come out of the blue to win it, and there are a couple of reasons why.
"For one, the tour is dominated by Europeans now, so for a lot of them, coming off clay to play on hard courts can be a difficult transition, because the ball is going to come at them so much faster and there are a lot of miss-hits. So, they treat [the Rogers Cup] as the beginning of their warm-up for the U.S. Open later in August.
"The second reason is you have players like Federer, who take some time off after Wimbledon [in July] and they emerge in Montreal after a bit of a layoff, so they're a bit rusty.
"Third, by the time players get to Montreal, a lot of the hard court players will have played three tournaments in a row, so when you get into your fourth straight tournament at this level, the fatigue factor comes into play and the start of a potential burnout in a lot of players.
"Montreal presents a certain challenge because Jarry Park has a lot of wind. The wind is a big factor and players really struggle with it because it's an open park and there's no real buffer around it, even on centre court. The majority of players today are not what I call good wind players; they get agitated by it rather than use it to their advantage.
"To me, anyone who bets on who is going to win is taking a chance because you see a lot of upsets in Montreal. I don't know that there's been a tournament where there have been, consistently for the last 15 years, so many major upsets."
- Roger Federer
- Rafael Nadal
- Novak Djokovic
- Nikolay Davydenko
- Andy Roddick
- Fernando Gonzalez
- Tommy Robredo
- Richard Gasquet
- James Blake
- Tomas Berdych
CBC Sports broadcast schedule
- Saturday, Aug. 11 — Semifinal #1 (1 p.m. ET)
- Saturday, Aug. 11 — Semifinal #2 (7 p.m. ET)
- Sunday, Aug. 12 — Final (2 p.m. ET)
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