Toronto Field Is Bringing The Heat

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Toronto Field Is Bringing The Heat
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Action in the U.S. Open Series begins to heat up this week as most of the top players go to Toronto for the Rogers Cup.
This should be a great tournament, almost like a mini-U.S. open. It's also the first tournament of the summer for the top three seeds: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Andy Murray is the fourth seed and played in L.A. last week losing in the final to Sam Querrey. I think there will be some great match-ups, lots of three-setters and a few upsets.
Here are my predictions:

First quarter
Nadal is scheduled to meet Andy Roddick in the quarters, but Roddick said in D.C. that he hasn't been feeling right. I look for Roddick to withdraw before the tournament begins. That will make the section even easier for Nadal. Marin Cilic is having a great tournament in D.C., but he may be tired after a long week. I think playing back-to-back weeks is tough to do. Stan Wawrinka didn't play well in D.C. and neither did Querrey, who has already played a lot of tennis this summer.

Pick: Nadal

Second quarter
I don't think Murray's section is too complicated either. Xavier Malisse has been playing well as has David Nalbandian. Fifth-seeded Robin Soderling withdrew in D.C. because of personal reasons, so you have to wonder if that will have an affect on his play this week.

Pick: Murray

Third quarter
Federer could face Alejandro Falla (is Lady Gaga his biggest fan?) in the first round. The two went five sets in the first round of Wimbledon. Falla is playing well lately, but you have to like Federer in this match-up. Tomas Berdych looms large in the top part of this section. The Czech bounced Federer from Wimbledon, and you can bet Federer wants a little revenge.

Pick: Federer

Fourth quarter
This is a tough section. I don't think the Djoker will have too much problem making it through the bottom part of the section. Nikolay Davydenko is the favorite in the top part of the section, but Radek Stepanek, Marcos Baghdatis and Fernando Verdasco are all capable of making it through. I think Verdasco, the ninth seed, will face the Djoker in the quarters. The Djoker will be fresh and win in three sets.

Pick: Djokovic

Semifinals
Nadal vs. Murray
Nadal has been on a role since the clay court season began. He usually struggles on hard courts in the summer, but he made some schedule changes this year and I think it will play off.

Pick: Nadal in three sets

Federer vs. Djokovic
Both are playing for the first time this summer and looking to kick things off with a bang. After Wimbledon, I think Federer will be fired up and try to send a message to the rest of the tour.

Pick: Federer in three sets

Final
Nadal vs. Federer
Ok, so I'm not going out on much of a limb, by picking this final. However, given my track record so far this summer, neither of these guys should feel very safe about me picking them. Federer has a new coach in Paul Annacone. I think the new pairing will pay big dividends in the long run, but it will take some time.

Pick: Nadal in three sets

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