Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Will Rogers Cup become Roger's Cup?

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TORONTO -- Take your pick: Rafa, Roger, Novak or Andy.

All are former Rogers Cup champions, all appear to be in top form and all have a decent shot of winning the title again.

After years of having one or two players enter as heavy favourites, the 2010 edition of the US$2.43-million tournament boasts an impressive field where seven or eight players could be considered good bets to raise the trophy.

There's world No. 1 and top seed Rafael Nadal of Spain, who won the Rogers Cup in 2005 and 2008. There's third-seeded Roger Federer of Switzerland, the 2004 and '06 champ who's still at the top of his game despite falling from his perch at the top. Sandwiched between them is No. 2 seed and 2007 champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

Defending champion Andy Murray of Britain is back as the No. 4 seed. Fifth-seeded Robin Soderling of Sweden is also in the mix along with veteran Nikolay Davydenko of Russia (No. 6 seed), Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic (No. 7) and veteran American Andy Roddick (No. 8).

In other words, it's anyone's tournament.

"It's great for the sport," Djokovic said Sunday. "It's a bigger group of players who are able to win major events. It makes it more interesting for the crowd and for us. You know, to compete, it is more challenging."

Djokovic has jumped ahead of Federer in the world rankings, but he still pegs the Swiss star and Nadal as the players to beat.

"Of course Rafa and Roger are the two biggest players in our era and the two biggest favourites to win any tournament they play in," Djokovic said. "We respect that. But there are some players that are coming up, like Soderling and Berdych, and of course Roddick is still there."

A betting man would have to like Nadal's chances on the hardcourts at Rexall Centre. The clay-court master has shown over the last few seasons that he can win on other surfaces, notably on the grass at Wimbledon this year and the Australian Open hardcourt last year.

The dream final for organizers would be a Nadal-Federer showdown. They have a chance to renew their rivalry since they're on opposite sides of the 64-man main draw. They have played only once this season, when Nadal defeated Federer in the Madrid Open final last May to improve his head-to-head record against him to 14-7.

The top eight seeds have been given byes to the second round. First-round play begins today.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 9, 2010 C4

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