The 2013 Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada is underway, and the stock watch for the top men's tennis players has begun.
Altogether, it should be a productive week for five of the six players at the top of the game. They will all be there in the first such meeting since Wimbledon. Only missing from the competition is No. 5 Roger Federer, who withdrew days before the event started.
As reported by the Associated Press and FOX Sports, Federer gave no reason for skipping the tournament.
The action should be a fantastic preview of what fans can expect from the U.S. Open at the end of the summer. After a grand slam season with three different champions, it will be hard to imagine anything but a bullish fight for one player to emerge with two trophies in hand.
As a result, the importance of the Rogers Cup cannot be underestimated. Neither can the players themselves. Expect fortunes and stocks to rise for the key combatants.
Tomas Berdych celebrates a win, Wimbledon 2013
Tomas Berdych is coming off of a difficult result in his last tournament.
He lost to world No. 104 Thiemo de Bakker 5-7, 5-7 in Bastad, Sweden, so that cannot give him a tremendous boost of confidence going into this week's Rogers Cup.
However, the Czech's stock should still be considered a buy. Bastad is a clay-court tournament, and the Dutchman de Bakker is more comfortable on that surface. Therefore, he was much more of a threat to Berdych than his ranking indicated.
Berdych has had solid results on the hard courts this year. He made it to the quarters in Miami, losing to Richard Gasquet, the semis at Indian Wells, where he lost to Rafael Nadal and he was runner-up in Dubai much earlier this year, where Novak Djokovic managed to take him out.
In addition to all of this, Berdych lost in the round of 16 in last year's Rogers Cup. He only has to win two matches to defend his points, and none of the above who vanquished him stands in the path of a couple match wins.
The hard courts favor a rise in Berdych's stock.
***UPDATE*** No. 12 seed Nicolas Almagro and No. 14 seed Gilles Simon are both out of Berdych's quarter of the draw in the Rogers Cup.
Rafael Nadal is ready for Rogers Cup 2013
Buy Rafael Nadal's stock right now.
The Mallorcan has a tremendous amount to gain going into the Rogers Cup. Despite a shocking loss to Steve Darcis at Wimbledon, Nadal should be ready to roll again.
Apparently, he is more than ready to get going. Pat Hickey of The Montreal Gazette reported on August 2 that Nadal had arrived early for the tournament. According to Nadal himself, he is "working hard."
His only hard-court action this year took place at Indian Wells. He won that tournament, beating Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the final. As Sports Illustrated noted, that was Nadal's first tournament win on hard courts since 2010. Even better, he didn't play at the Rogers Cup last year. This means that any points are good points, because he has nothing to defend.
Currently, Nadal has 6,860 ranking points, and is only 260 points behind David Ferrer. Any sniff of a solid run in Canada will launch him back up the chart.
It is a great situation for a great player.
David Ferrer is having his most successful year as a tennis professional.
Currently, he is ranked a career-best No. 3 in the world, and he is poised to solidify that, or even improve upon it this week. He has claimed two titles and gotten to the finals at four other tournaments.
The Spaniard has been a threat on the hard courts this year, winning Auckland, getting to the semifinals in Qatar and the Australian Open and reaching the finals at Miami, where Andy Murray managed to knock him off.
His only poor performance on the concrete was a tough three-setter against Kevin Anderson at Indian Wells. In retrospect, though, that wasn't such a disappointment. The South African has had quite a good year himself.
Ferrer must be salivating at his chances in Canada. He did not play there last year and has the chance to gain ground in his quest for a world No. 2 ranking. He is only 1,490 points behind Murray with literally nothing to lose.
The Spanish player's stock will rise this week. Bet on it.
***UPDATE*** Kevin Anderson just lost in the first round of Rogers Cup. Ferrer will not have to face him in his quarter any longer.
Andy Murray looks to continue winning ways at Rogers Cup 2013
The excitement surrounding Andy Murray will continue this week in Canada.
He is a sure bet.
With a Wimbledon championship under his belt for his last appearance on the tour, and only 90 points to defend from last year's Rogers Cup, all is well for the Scot.
History favors Murray, too. He won this tournament in 2009 and 2010. The elusive concept of mojo from his Wimbledon triumph will be in his corner. Momentum will be turning his engine all week long. Expect the Canadian fans to claim the Brit for their very own in a wave of Commonwealth fervor.
Only the No. 13 seeded Fabio Fognini stands in Murray's path of defending his necessary points. Even that should be no more than a formality, as Fognini struggled in his opener against a fading Marcos Baghdatis. If Juan Martin del Potro advances to meet him, it could be a nice clash, but by then, one thing will remain true.
Andy Murray's stock will only continue rising.
Questions are looming for Novak Djokovic at Rogers Cup 2013
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is in a tight spot.
It is not as if he can lose his place atop the rankings, due to a 3,430-point lead over No. 2 Andy Murray. Even if Djokovic lost in his first match and Murray won the tournament, all would still be well (statistically speaking) with the Serb.
What makes Djokovic's stock a hold instead of a buy is his last result against Murray. It is not only that the Brit won Wimbledon and finally broke the curse. More importantly, Murray won a grand slam, and he beat the best player in the world in doing so. This is trouble for Djokovic.
The 1,000 points that he has to defend must be weighing on him a bit, too. He knows he has to win just to keep his stock on an even keel. As David Cox of livetennis.com writes, this will make for a "stern test."
Djokovic should make it to the final. That is only half the story, though.
It isn't enough to make him a hot buy.