While the Rogers Cup in Montreal is still very much underway the Cincinnati Masters has also arrived with the Draw Ceremony taking place yesterday evening. This is Federer's first outing on the North American hard courts after he decided to skip playing at the Uniprix Stadium in favour of an extended holiday followed by a training block in Zurich.
Roger comes into Cincinnati as the defending champion and the Number 2 seed. The Swiss has won the event a record 6 times in 05, 07, 09-10, 12 and 14. Not bad going and it's always been one his preferred tournaments due to the surrounding area so I'm looking forward to it. You can see his projected opponents below:
Federer's Projected Opponents
- Round 1: Bye
- Round 2: Roberto Bautista-Agut / Pablo Cuevas
- Round 3: Kevin Anderson
- Quarter Final: Rafael Nadal
- Semi Final: Andy Murray
- Final: Novak Djokovic
Thoughts on the Draw
First up for Fed in his quest for a seventh title is either Bautista-Agut or Cuevas. Neither of whom have a great pedigree on hard courts and are 5-0 combined against Fed in the Head to Head. Should be easy pickings for the Swiss whoever he meets, RBA is probably the favourite to come through.
Into Round 3 and big serving Kevin Anderson could await. Anderson made the Quarters in Cincy last year but he's hit a run of poor form post Wimbledon and I think he tends to prefer the slightly slower style hard courts of Indian Wells and Miami. On his day he can be a handful as Djokovic found out at SW19 but after 2 first round exits the last person he'd want to see on the other side of the net is Federer.
The main talking point of the draw has been Nadal landing in Federer's Quarter which means we could see a Fedal match for the first time since the Aus Open in 2014. I've just watched the highlights of the Spaniard against Nishikori in Montreal and it was a very one sided affair with Nishikori dictating from the baseline and picking off Nadal's second serve with ease.
Considering Nadal's sub par year you'd have to say Fed is the favourite should they meet but considering the history / battle scars between the two it's never straightforward. I'd like to think if 2013 handicapped Federer can take a set off Nadal in Cincy, who clean swept the US Open series, then he should be able to go one better this time around. As for Nadal's opponents prior there isn't too much danger for him – Raonic is really the only threat but perhaps Rajeev Rampras could cause him some trouble if he gets past Chardy.
The Semi Finals is then projected to be against Murray who defeated Tsonga yesterday to make the last 4 in Montreal. Hard to assess his form as he's had it pretty easy in Canada so far and although he's a 2 time winner in Cincy he hasn't been past the Quarter Final stage since 2011. I'm not sure he'll make it that far this year so Cilic is my pick to get to the Semi Finals.
As for the Championship decider should Fed get there the seeded opponent is of course Djokovic. Novak had to save 2 match points against Gulbis in Montreal so looks to be maintaining his confidence from Wimbledon nicely and I'm sure he'll be a factor next week. Looking at his section there's only really Nishikori and Stan that pose a big threat to him. Should Isner be close to 100% fitness then maybe he can do some damage too but if Djokovic is still feeling fresh after playing singles / doubles in Canada then I'd expect him to come through.
- Leonardo Mayer to beat Anderson
- Fedal to happen
- Tomic to take out Nishikori
- Janowicz to take out Monfils
- The winner of Kohlschreiber / Cilic to beat Murray
What do you guys think of the draw? Let me know in the comments.