Toronto 2021: Men's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | National Bank Open 

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
Rudra Biswas

The ATP Tour heads to Toronto for the 140th edition of the Canadian Masters, which will commence on August 9. The National Bank Open will be the first of two ATP Masters 1000 events held in the lead-up to the US Open.

The tournament returns to the tennis calendar after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Leading the pack this year will be top seed Daniil Medvedev and five-time winner Rafael Nadal. Nadal will be attempting to defend the title he won in Montreal two years ago by beating Medvedev in the final.

The other big names in the fray are Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Hubert Hurkacz and Denis Shapovalov.

With main draw action set to begin on Monday, here's a look at the prospects of the top names in the mix:

Top half: Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev handed tricky draws

Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev

Top-seeded players: [1] Daniil Medvedev, [4] Andrey Rublev, [5] Denis Shapovalov, [7] Hubert Hurkacz

Expected semifinal: Daniil Medvedev vs Andrey Rublev

Dark horse: Sebastian Korda

Analysis: Daniil Medvedev, who is pursuing a fourth Masters 1000 crown, finds himself in one of the tougher sections of the draw. The top seed will open his Toronto campaign against either Dan Evans or Alexander Bublik, both of whom have had successful seasons.

If Medvedev can overcome that challenge, he will most likely face the talented Jannik Sinner in the Round of 16 in Toronto. Medvedev comfortably beat Sinner earlier this year in Marseille, but he could face a much sterner test this time around.

Medvedev could then face reigning Miami Open champion Hubert Hurkacz for a place in the last four. The World No. 2 wasted a two-sets-to-one lead against Hurkacz not too long ago at Wimbledon, and will be hoping for some good old fashioned revenge if the two meet.

Hurkacz, however, has a tough path himself; the Pole may have to stave off challenges from the likes of Kei Nishikori, Alex de Minaur and Jenson Brooksby just to make it to the quarterfinals.

Andrey Rublev has also been placed in the top half. The Russian will face either Jan-Lennard Struff or Fabio Fognini in his opener, before taking on one of 13th-seeded Cristian Garin, John Isner or Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Rublev will have to work hard to come through his section of the draw. The Russian hasn't had the best of results leading up to the North American hardcourt swing and is currently on a two-match losing streak.

Denis Shapovalov
Denis Shapovalov

Meanwhile, fifth seed Denis Shapovalov will be looking to repeat his heroics from 2017 when he pulled off a shock upset of then-World No. 2 Rafael Nadal. The Canadian is in great form, having reached his first claycourt final in Geneva before making his maiden Major semifinals at Wimbledon.

Shapovalov could face American prodigy Sebastian Korda in his opener. If the Canadian manages to survive that challenge, he should be able to make it to the quarterfinals, where he could come up against Rublev.

Predicted semifinal: [5] Denis Shapovalov def. [7] Hubert Hurkacz

Bottom half: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud look to dethrone Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Top-seeded players: [2] Rafael Nadal, [3] Stefanos Tsitsipas, [6] Casper Ruud, [8] Diego Schwartzman

Expected semifinal: Rafael Nadal vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

Dark horse: Cameron Norrie

Analysis: 2019 champion Rafael Nadal arrives in Toronto hoping to find some form ahead of the US Open. Nadal is one of the top favorites to win the event but a foot injury could hamper his chances.

Nadal was beaten by Lloyd Harris in Washington and could come up against the big-serving South African in the second round in Toronto.

If Nadal comes through his opener, he will face a much more dangerous opponent in the Round of 16; the Spaniard could come up against either Grigor Dimitrov, Nick Kyrgios or Reilly Opelka in the last 16, all of whom have the firepower to trouble the Spaniard.

If Nadal manages to make the last eight, he could face either Roberto Bautista Agut or Diego Schwartzman.

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas has been placed in Nadal's half of the draw. The Greek reached his maiden Major final at Roland Garros, but has struggled of late, losing early at Wimbledon, Hamburg and the Tokyo Olympics.

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas

Tsitsipas has been handed a rather difficult draw in Toronto. He will open his campaign against either Lorenzo Sonego or Ugo Humbert before a potential meeting with Aslan Karatsev. If the Greek can navigate his way into the quarterfinals, he'll most likely face either Casper Ruud or Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Ruud has been seeded as high as sixth in Toronto, but that has not stopped him from getting a difficult draw. He opens against either Marin Cilic or Albert Ramos-Vinolas before a potential meeting with with home favorite Auger-Aliassime.

Predicted semifinal: [2] Rafael Nadal def. [15] Aslan Karatsev

Predicted Champion

Rafael Nadal

Edited by Arvind Sriram


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