Montreal final preview and prediction: Federer vs. Zverev

Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev will be facing each other for the fourth time in their careers and for the second time this season when they battle for the Rogers Cup title on Sunday.

Federer is leading the head-to-head series 2-0, including 1-0 in ATP finals. They most recently faced each other in the Halle championship match a few months ago, when the veteran Swiss got the job done 6-1, 6-3. A pair of 2016 encounters were split, with Federer prevailing 6-3, 7-5 on the red clay of Rome before Zverev scored a 7-6(4), 5-7, 7-3 upset in Halle.

On the heels of up-and-down 2016 campaigns for both men, they have shot up the charts this season. In fact, this is a potential preview of a World Tour Finals showdown–and at this rate perhaps even the final match of 2017. Federer has a beat on the year-end No. 1 ranking with two Grand Slam titles (Australian Open and Wimbledon) already under his belt, while Zverev will be third in the race to London on Monday.

The 20-year-old German has looked strong the whole way in 2017 and he is especially fine form at the moment. He boasts a 45-13 record and has won nine in a row dating back to the beginning of his run to the Washington, D.C. winner’s trophy last week. Making a quick turnaround in Montreal, Zverev’s campaign at this Masters 1000 tournament almost never got off the ground. He faced a match point against Richard Gasquet in his opener, saved it with an amazing 49-ball rally, and eventually survived 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(3). The world No. 8 has since made more routine work of Nick Kyrgios, Kevin Anderson, and Denis Shapovalov.

Speaking of match points, Federer has held them in all 37 of his matches this year. He is 35-2 with losses only to Evgeny Donskoy and Tommy Haas in a pair of respective thrillers (Dubai and Stuttgart). There has been no such competition to speak of dating back to Wimbledon. Federer rolled to the title there without dropping a single set and so far this week only David Ferrer has managed to snag one. The No. 2 seed recovered to win that contest in three, with additional victories over Peter Polansky, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Robin Haase to propel him into his sixth final of 2017.

“I think he’s definitely the favorite,” Zverev said of Federer. “He’s been playing amazing tennis. He pretty much won every single big tournament he played this year. I feel like I’m playing well. I know that I have to serve a lot better tomorrow than I did today. That was I think the thing that I struggled the most with today.

“I (have) played in five finals this year. I won four; the one that I lost was against Roger. There’s a reason for it.”

And there is a reason Federer should triumph once again. Zverev may finally be running on fumes and he is running into an opponent who will play aggressive, take the ball early, and put the youngster on the run. Just as Shapovalov’s amazing hot streak came to an end on Saturday, so too should Zverev’s in this one.

Pick: Federer in 2

50 Comments on Montreal final preview and prediction: Federer vs. Zverev

  1. Experience will triumph over hope. Again. Way too many UEs from Zeverev in the SF and, as he himself admits, he needs to serve a lot better if to be competitive against RF.

    Federer in 3

  2. Federer upped his game a level today against Haase, who kept it close in second set by serving really well. Zverev is right that he has to improve his serve, because Roger’s ROS will be better than Shapovalov’s.

    Federer is probably going to try to play hyper-aggressive tennis. At times in the last few matches I’ve thought he’s almost experimenting with how aggressively he can play, because there have definitely been times I didn’t think it was working and he’d be better off staying back and rallying a bit. However, I have a feeling Roger is going to bring his A game tomorrow, and all this aggressive practice will pay off. Federer in 2.

    • You may be right, Fg. It’s also surprising that Fed has gone the entire tournament without playing a night match, which I think he definitely prefers. So far it’s been ok, though I thought tomorrow would be at night. Of course, being earlier means its a very short recovery period for Zverev. Ricky may be right that he’ll be running on fumes. Luckily for him, he’s 20 years old.

    • No chance, Ali! Handsome has, with the help of Andy’s trainer become too strong now, (his ankles are a bit vulnerable), to be burnt toast but I am a semi-reasonable person tho having a bias for him and don’t think he will win – I think it’s a bridge too far for him – yep, that’s the metaphor, I’d guess. Fed in 2.

      But if Sascha somehow wins, I’ll definitely change my avatar to Handsome!

  3. Fed is in amazing shape, extremely relaxed and explosive in the same time.
    His vertical jump has to be best ever, measure of explosive power. He is also quicker than ever moving forward.
    Also his upper body seems wider and fuller, which also helps generate easy power on forehand.

    It has to be a lot of fun, for low ranked players without much ambition to win, experience this kind of performance actually.
    For the rest it’s it very challenging.

  4. Fed’s not been too good this week and nobody has presented a big enough challenge either to push him to a higher gear perhaps. The first two sets of the Ferrer match were quite tight though. If Zverev plays his best, it will be a good contest but nothing to suggest Fed can’t raise his level for this final.

    Zverev needs help from Fed to get the win. He can steal a set though!!

    • I agree with you VR; I don’t see Fed as formidable as during the early HC season, but he has just done enough to win his matches, though not too comfortably but still in straight sets except for one match (against Ferrer).

      There’s really a gulf between Fed and most of the rest of the players, that he playing at <100% of his best level could still beat all his opppnents despite his opponents playing the best they could.

      I was thinking to myself, that other than Djoko at his best, there's simply no one who could beat him when he's playing his best tennis, on HCs and on grass. Rafa's HC game has regressed in the past two years and even though he has improved this year over the last two years, he's still no where near to his 2013/2014 level on the HCs, so I feel Rafa can't stop Fed on the HCs, if Fed is playing his best tennis.

      I think Fed will beat Zverev in the final, being more experienced and still has some more gears to go to when needed. Zverev may win a set at best imo.

      • I think Zverev has a chance to get a set if he plays at a high enough level. But that’s about it. I expect Fed to win.

  5. I’m tempted to go out on a limb and predict an upset, but I don’t think I can bring myself to do it… If an upset were to happen, it would certainly be in montreal where the court is lightning fast and windy. I think it comes down to one thing- whoever plays the most aggressive while having more winner than UE should win. Given how top-notch Federer’s net game has been this tournament, I am going to have to lean toward him. I hope we get an epic three-setter. Fed in 3.

        • Nice touch with the volley at net from Zverev!
          5-2 Zverev up a break.

          Can he keep it up or will Fed use his experience and savvy to get the better of him?

        • Nny,

          He’s playing so well. fingers crossed – serving for the set.
          I think it was crazy for Federer to play Montreal but it’s a trophy he’s never won. Now he goes to win Cincy? Seems like

          • seems like a bit much is what I’m saying, for Federer. Winning back to back Montreal and Cincy but….he did it in IW and Miami.

            • That is what I’m thinking. But I also think if someone can do it it’s him given the success he’s had at Cincy and where he’s at today. I think he will in Cincy no matter the result of today so if he comes back here I think he wiill pull off the US Open Series masters double and honestly could win all three. I actually think if he loses at a tournament this is the one but he’s still in right now of course. Zverev really earning this lead though. Even though Roger wasn’t serving well Zverev took it to him.

            • In terms of history, every time he has lost Canada final, he has gone on to win Cinci. And as you said, he’s never won both, so maybe it would be in his best interest if he loses today? 🙂

          • rc,

            Our Sascha has come out playing great tennis! Well done to this young man as he takes the first set!

            The ESPN commies said the he has hit second serves at 113 mph! Wow!

            Can Sascha keep it up?

            • We’ll see, Nny.

              Federer changed on the changeover — he’s positioning himself more aggressively – pushing Sascha back.

  6. Roger will use his experience and the crowd to take the next set. But Zverev is playing well and I did predict we would have a good one on our hands. I highly doubt Roger will lose in straights because I think he will up his serving next set and hang in there as he has done so well this year.

  7. It is interesting how Federer just kinda stuggles in Canada finals. He lost in tight straight sets to Jo-Willy in 2014, and not many people saw that coming. Just to throw it out there, every time Federer has lost in the Canada final, he has won Cincinnati…

  8. At least one of my favs is winning. Or I should say won. Muller over Harrison 6-4 5-7 7-6(3) in Cincinnati round one. Clutch play from Gilles as usual

  9. Mark that backhand pass. That could be a bigger miss than you’d think. Not that it was an easy shot but he almost made it lol

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