Can Rafael Nadal, in the absence of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic bag his 5th Rogers Cup title?

Rogers Cup Toronto 2018 - Rafael Nadal
Rogers Cup Toronto 2018 - Rafael Nadal

Following a slump in form at the beginning of the clay season, Rafael Nadal rediscovered himself brilliantly to end his season on the red dirt on a magnificent high as he bagged his 9th title in Rome, and a victory at Roland Garros for an unprecedented 12th time in his career was like a tip of an iceberg.

In spite of being handed a tough draw at Wimbledon, the Spaniard cruised into his 7th semi-final at the All England Club after having dropped just a set en route his clash against Roger Federer in the semis. Nadal might have succumbed to the Swiss maestro in their semi-final tussle, but he played incredible tennis in the lead up to his clash against Federer.

In the semi-final too, the Spaniard bowed out only after putting a stellar show against one of the best players on grass ever and one can expect the Spaniard as hungry as ever as he prepares himself to feature in Rogers Cup, ATP Masters 1000 event, in the build-up to the upcoming final Grand Slam Major of the year.

After having withdrawn from Miami Masters and being forced to retire before his semi-final clash against Federer at Indian Wells Masters earlier this year due to a recurring knee injury, Nadal is all set to embrace the hard court season yet again and enters the 2019 Rogers Cup as the defending champion, having won the title at Toronto in 2018.

Since his resurgence at the start of 2017, while Nadal has played breathtaking tennis against everybody else, the Spaniard has struggled against his biggest rivals Federer and Novak Djokovic, especially on non-clay surfaces.

However, with Federer and Djokovic opting not to play at Montreal, Nadal surely starts as one of the firm favourites to win the Rogers Cup.

Analyzing Nadal’s schedule over the last three years, the Spaniard meticulously picks and chooses the tournament as a part of injury management. Also, he plans to play the tournaments in such a way as to ensure that he peaks at the Grand Slam Majors.

With the Western and Southern Open at Cincinnati immediately following the Rogers Cup, one can expect the Spaniard to opt out of the Cincinnati Masters in a bid to kickoff his US Open campaign fresh, well-rested and healthy.

But, at the Rogers Cup, can Nadal, in the absence of his biggest threats Federer and Djokovic, cash in to defend his Canadian Masters title?

Well, with the dangerous players like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Kei Nishikori, Fabio Fognini to a name a few in his side of the draw, the Spaniard would be wary of his challengers, but at the same time optimistic about his prospects of winning the Canadian Masters 1000 event for 5th time in his career.

With US Open just around the corner, Nadal would sense Rogers Cup as an opportunity not only to kickstart his north American hard court season to the best possible start but also to bag a hard court title which have been very few of late for the Spaniard.

Coincidentally, Nadal’s last title on hard courts came at Rogers Cup as well when he defeated Tsitsipas in the finals at Toronto last year.

Can Nadal replicate last year’s magic at Montreal this year to successfully defend his Rogers Cup title? Or will someone else deny the Spaniard his golden opportunity to get off to a flying start before he can fancy his chances at the upcoming US Open?

It would be fascinating to follow Rafael Nadal’s journey at the Rogers Cup in the lead up to the final Slam of the year, US Open!

Edited by Prasen Moudgal
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