Rafael Nadal is the favourite to lift the 2018 Rogers Cup with great rival Roger Federer having withdrawn from the tournament.
Veteran Federer is seeking to protect his body ahead of the US Open, with the returning Andy Murray also opting not to play after three grueling encounters at the Citi Open.
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Murray came through the trio of three-set clashes unhurt, but the length of the matches has left the Scot unwilling to push himself into another week of intense action right away.
The absence of Murray and Federer from the Rogers Cup draw leaves Nadal clear at the top of the betting, with the world number one priced at around the 3/1 mark to lift the trophy.
Alexander Zverev is the second seed and the talented young German is out to defend the title he won a year ago by impressively beating Federer in the final.
Zverev heads to Toronto on a high having triumphed at last week’s Citi Open in Washington and a price of 8/1 will be very tempting for a lot of tennis fans here. But who else offers the best value odds in the competition? Let’s take a look.
Nadal Hoping for Fourth Rogers Cup Crown
Spanish superstar Nadal has an unusual record at the Canadian Masters – he has won the event three times but since the last of those triumphs in 2013 he has never made it past the quarter-finals of the tournament.
The top seed has been handed a draw that should ensure that odd record is put to bed, however, with either Jared Donaldson or Benoit Paire awaiting in the second round.
Nadal will have to come through an early test if he is to win the competition for the fourth time, though, as he is due to book a third-round clash with either Stan Wawrinka or Nick Kyrgios.
Australian maverick Kyrgios has been struggling with a hip injury and his participation is in doubt as a result, while Wawrinka does not have much form behind him after returning to the tour.
Sixth seed Marin Cilic is scheduled to meet Nadal in the quarter-finals, but the big Croatian has been out of sorts in the last few months and could be vulnerable to being knocked out by Borna Coric in the second round. He also has the likes of Kyle Edmund and Sam Querrey in his section too.
It all points to Nadal reaching the semi-finals without too much drama and once he has some momentum behind him, the world number one is a very difficult opponent to beat.
Djokovic a Dangerous Floater
The top bookmakers have opted to make Djokovic the second favourite for the Rogers Cup title and the Wimbledon champion is available at around the 4/1 for this tournament.
Making his return to the tour for the first time since triumphing at SW19, Djokovic has a tricky first-round match against Hyeon Chung, who dumped him out of the Australian Open earlier in the year. Djokovic will be out for revenge and his path thereafter does seem clearer.
Seeded ninth in the draw, potential second-round opponent Matthew Ebden is unlikely to be able to stop the Serb, who is then scheduled to meet Dominic Thiem for a place in the last eight.
Thiem is a talent, that is not in doubt, but his consistency and mental strength do not appear up to the mark and Djokovic would be expected to come through that match as well. Thiem has also been struggling with a shoulder injury that could stop him producing his best tennis here.
Djokovic’s low seeding means he will likely have to beat Zverev if he is to make it into the semi-finals, where he could play Kevin Anderson. Should Djokovic produce a similar performance to his form at Wimbledon, he will have a great chance of adding to his haul of four previous Rogers Cup titles.
Third Quarter Offers Opportunity for Anderson and Dimitrov
Perhaps the weakest section in this week’s Rogers Cup is the third quarter of the draw, which is headlined by Wimbledon finalist Anderson (28/1) and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov (33/1)
The latter player has not produced any form of note in the last six months and the fifth seed might well face Fernando Verdasco in his first match in Toronto. The experienced Spaniard has already knocked Dimitrov out of the French Open and Indian Wells in 2018.
Milos Raonic will want to impress his home crowd, but injuries have held him back over the last couple of years. He also faces a tough first-round match against tenth seed David Goffin.
French Open semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato is another contender in this section of the draw and the Italian could cut through a useful path and make his odds of 500/1 look vast.
But the preferred name from this quarter is Anderson, making his comeback after reaching the Wimbledon final earlier in the year. The giant South African had to come through an epic semi-final with John Isner and was roundly beaten by Djokovic afterwards, but has shown signs in 2018 of being able to kick on and reach a new level in his game.
The world number five looks, on paper, to have a fairly straightforward draw and his odds of 28/1 seem to offer some of the best value in the draw.
Rogers Cup Best Bets
The absence of Federer from the Rogers Cup draw makes Nadal the obvious favourite and if he produces anything like his best game, he should get through to the final quite easily.
But 3/1 is such a short price it is tempting to take a pass on this one, especially when defending champion Zverev is on offer at 8/1 and he has a title under his belt from just last week.
The German will likely have to beat Djokovic in the semi-final but that is not beyond him at all and, building up to the US Open, these are the sort of events he needs to win regularly.
At odds of 28/1 Anderson represents an interesting each-way option from the bottom half of the draw. If he plays as well as he did at Wimbledon, he should justify his number four seeding and reach the semi-finals at least.
Contenders in the top half are few and far between, but if anyone can get through instead of Nadal perhaps it could be Juan Martin del Potro. The likable Argentinian is offered at 9/1.