Montreal Masters: Top players double up to get court time ahead of US Open


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The Independent Online

With the year’s final Grand Slam tournament at the US Open only three weeks away, most of the game’s leading men are pushing hard to get their hard-court games into shape. This week’s Montreal Masters will be the first outing since Wimbledon for a number of the top players, whose need for time on the court is reflected in a remarkable line-up in the doubles competition.

Novak Djokovic (who will partner Janko Tipsarevic), Andy Murray (Leander Paes), Rafael Nadal (Fernando Verdasco), Tomas Berdych (Jack Sock) and Marin Cilic (Robert Lindstedt) are among those who will be playing doubles as well as singles in Montreal.

Murray made his return to competition earlier than most when he played in Washington last week but, after losing his opening match to Teymuraz Gabashvili, the Scot needs matches as much as most of his rivals.

Murray and the  42-year-old Paes play their first match against Kevin Anderson and Jérémy Chardy, with the reward for the winners a second-round meeting with Murray’s brother, Jamie, and his Australian partner, John Peers. The Murrays, who played together in Britain’s Davis Cup victory over France last month, have never played against each other on the main tour.

With Roger Federer not playing in Montreal, Murray is the second seed behind Djokovic in the singles competition. After a first-round bye, the world No 3 will play either Feliciano Lopez or Tommy Robredo. Thereafter he is seeded to meet Gael Monfils in the third round, Cilic in the quarter-finals, Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals and Djokovic in the final.

Murray, who is playing his first tournament since it was revealed that his wife Kim is expecting their first child early next year, will be seeking his third title in Canada, while Djokovic is chasing his fourth.

The world No 1, who has not played since retaining his Wimbledon title last month, is in the same half of the draw as Stan Wawrinka, Berdych and Milos Raonic. Britain’s James Ward failed to earn a place in the main draw when he lost 6-2, 6-4 to Colombia’s Alejandro Falla in qualifying.

Nishikori was facing John Isner in the final in Washington last night. In Saturday’s semi-finals Nishikori beat Cilic 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, reversing the outcome of their US Open final last September, while Isner beat his fellow American, Steve Johnson, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6.

A number of the leading women are competing in Toronto this week, including Serena Williams, who will be hoping to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam in New York next month.

Britain’s Heather Watson qualified for the main draw in Toronto with two wins over the weekend, beating Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-0 in the first round on Saturday and Jarmila Gajdosova 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.