Rafael Nadal is a four-time champion at the Coupe Rogers, the Canadian ATP Masters 1000 tournament. But if the top seed hopes to add a fifth trophy from this event to his collection, he’ll need to battle past a slew of scrappy baseliners in the early rounds.
Nadal will face #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur or a qualifier in the second round. If it is De Minaur, the 20-year-old will take plenty of confidence into his third match against the legendary lefty, having captured his second ATP Tour title last week at the BB&T Atlanta Open.
Nadal has defeated De Minaur by identical 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 scorelines in each of their two previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, which came at 2018 Wimbledon and this year’s Australian Open. But De Minaur is one of the quickest players on the ATP Tour, putting plenty of balls back into the court and typically forcing opponents to rip the match from his hands.
The Aussie also showed his serving prowess in Atlanta, dropping just seven first-serve points in the entire tournament. De Minaur became just the third player (since stats started being kept in 1991) to win a tournament without facing a break point (Haas 2007 Memphis, Isner 2017 Newport), and he lost fewer first-serve points than both of those players.
The first seeded opponent Nadal could face is 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin. The Belgian, seeded 15th, was one of just two players to take a set from Nadal at Roland Garros this year, and he defeated the Spaniard at The O2 in 2017. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 4-1.
Fabio Fognini stunned Nadal in this year’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semi-finals en route to his first ATP Masters 1000 title. And the seventh seed could try to spring the upset again should he face Nadal in the Montreal quarter-finals.
Nadal has won 11 of their 15 FedEx ATP Head2Head clashes, but Fognini has consistently risen to the occasion on the sport’s biggest stages against the Spaniard, beating him on hard courts at the 2015 US Open.
The top seed is also the defending champion, but the last time the tournament was held in Montreal, Alexander Zverev captured his second Masters 1000 crown and his first on hard courts.
The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion, who is the third seed, will play Brit Cameron Norrie or Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in the second round. The first seeded opponent he could face is No. 13 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who upset the German en route to his second consecutive Hamburg title last week.
Second-seeded Dominic Thiem claimed his maiden title at this level earlier this year on the hard courts of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, and he will look to add another Masters 1000 crown to his resume in Montreal. He will open against 2017 Montreal semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov or Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Shapovalov captured the attention of tennis fans everywhere during his magical run that year, beating the likes of Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro en route to the last four. His fellow #NextGenATP Canadian star, Felix Auger-Aliassime, will play countryman Vasek Pospisil in the first round. Auger-Aliassime beat Pospisil in the first round at Indian Wells last year for his first Masters 1000 victory, and also defeated him in the first round at Wimbledon this season.
Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who made the championship match at this event last year when it was held in Toronto, is on Nadal’s half of the draw and he will face a tough test in the second round. He will battle former World No. 3 Milos Raonic, the 2013 Montreal finalist, or American Taylor Fritz, who has made at least the semi-finals in three of his past four tournaments, including his first ATP Tour title in Eastbourne.
Aussie Nick Kyrgios faces a tricky draw, as he will have to battle past Citi Open quarter-finalist Kyle Edmund in the first round. If Kyrgios advances, he will have to play eighth seed Daniil Medvedev, with Thiem also lurking in their quarter.