- Chris Sobey
The ATP Toronto Masters title will be decided tonight between top seed Novak Djokovic and third seed Kei Nishikori. This will be there 12th meeting on the ATP Tour; Djokovic leads the head-to-head 9-2, has won the last eight in a row and Nishikori’s last win came back in 2014 at the US Open. Djokovic has looked back to his imperious best this week, has not dropped a set on route to the final and will aim to extend his record of 29 Masters 1000 title wins, which he should do as he’s wo all six Masters 1000 Series matches against Nishikori including a straight sets win in this year’s Miami Masters final.
On to next week’s ATP action and there is one ATP 250 tournament in Atlanta, USA, which leads up to the Olympics that commence next Thursday. Atlanta has been running since 2010 and all six titles were won by American players, including the last three by John Isner who is the top-seed this week. The top seed does not have a good record at Atlanta however, winning one of the last six titles and they’ve never been a losing finalist in this period, which does not bode well for Isner’s chances this week.
The second seeds record is little better having won none of the last six titles and they were a losing finalist twice in this period (last time Berdych 2012). Seeded players in general do perform well at Atlanta and a player seeded no higher than nine won the last six titles and they were a losing finalist four times in this period (last time Baghdatis 2015). Unseeded players have never won the title and they were a losing finalist twice in the last six renewals (last time Janowicz 2014).
The top half of the draw is packed full of American players and as a home player’s won all six titles it makes sense to highlight one who can win or at least reach the final this week. Even though Isner has such a good record at Atlanta and won as the top-seed last year, he does not appeal this week given his recent form. Seventh seed Donald Young (18/1) usually plays his best tennis on hard courts on home soil and has played well enough recently to suggest he is capable of reaching the final this week. He’s never won or reached the final of an ATP Tournament during his career, but definitely has the talent to achieve this and it’s just a matter of time before he does make the break through at this level of tournament.
It’s hard to look past second seed Nick Kyrgios in the bottom half of the draw, but his attitude and form has been questionable this year and the way he succumbed to Canadian teenager in the first round at Toronto last week does not inspire confidence. Veterans have been performing well on the ATP Tour the last couple of seasons and fifth seed Verdasco (15/2) has been one of these players. He’s won two ATP hard court tournaments in the USA during his career, so knows what it takes to win in the conditions, has won 6 of his 10 matches on hard courts this year and is clearly motivated to swell his bank balance further before he retires having won an ATP 250 title already in 2016 at Bucharest.