Roger Federer will go toe-to-toe with 20-year-old hotshot Alexander Zverev in the 2017 final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, with the Swiss looking to add a sixth title to his collection in a stunning comeback year.
After spending six months on the sidelines in the second half of last season, the world No. 3 has returned to his very best to take the tennis world by storm once more.
His opponent is enjoying a fine year of his own, with four titles already to his name, and he will be looking to match Federer’s haul of five successes to become the joint-most trophy-laden star on the ATP Tour thus far in 2017.
Here we take a look at the contest and offer a prediction as to who will come out on top…
What’s on the line?
Federer is defending a simply stunning record in Masters 1000 and Grand Slam events in 2017, having played 29 matches and won them all.
However, he has never won the Rogers Cup when it’s based in Montreal, although he has won the event twice in Toronto.
The Swiss is also on a 16-match winning streak and should he extend that to 17 he will be in control of his own destiny to replace Andy Murray as world No. 1 at the Cincinnati Masters.
Federer & Zverev in 2017
Federer – 3
Zverev – 8
Federer – 5
Zverev – 4
Federer – 35/2
Zverev – 45/13
Fourth seed Zverev is on a nine-match win streak of his own, having won the Citi Open in Washington last week and has secured qualification for the Next Gen Finals in Milan.
The German is up to third in the Race to London and looking to defend his 100% record in Masters 1000 finals, having beaten Novak Djokovic in Rome earlier this year.
How have they reached this stage?
Things haven’t all gone Federer’s way during his time in Canada, with David Ferrer taking a set off him and Robin Haase causing him problems in the semi-finals, but the 36-year-old has still looked relatively assured in reaching the final.
Zverev, meanwhile, has taken out a host of well-known stars on his route to the brink of glory, beating Richard Gasquet in a tight opening match, in which he saved a match point after a 49-shot rally.
Since then, he’s not dropped a set during a run that saw him beat Nick Kyrgios, Kevin Anderson and 18-year-old Canadian sensation Denis Shapovalov.
Routes to Rogers Cup final
R2: 6-2 6-1 Polansky
R3: 4-6 6-4 6-2 Ferrer
QF: 6-4 6-4 Bautista Agut
SF: 6-3 7-6 Haase
R2: 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-3) Gasquet
R3: 6-4 6-3 Kyrgios
QF: 7-5 6-4 Anderson
SF: 6-4 7-5 Shapovalov
What’s their head-to-head like?
The second seed leads the head-to-head 2-1 in official ATP Tour matches, although Zverev did enjoy a win in the Hopman Cup at the start of the year.
Federer won their only previous meeting in a Masters 1000 match (Rome, 2016), while he also beat the German in the only time they’ve met in a Tour-level final (Halle, 2017).
However, this is the first time the pair will meet on a hard court.
Federer v Zverev head-to-head
Federer 2-1 Zverev
Masters 1000 head-to-head
Federer 1-0 Zverev
Federer 6-1 6-3 Zverev, Halle final (2017)
Who is the favourite?
Zverev is the youngest Coupe Rogers finalist since Djokovic lifted the title in 2007 but he is not fancied to deny Federer a 94th career ATP crown.
The Swiss will match Ivan Lendl’s total in second place of trophies won in the Open Era – ranking just behind Jimmy Connors (109) – with a victory in what is his 45th Masters 1000 final.
Federer is the clear favourite to win the title at 1/3, while Zverev’s price is out at 5/2.
Rogers Cup final odds
5/2 – Zverev to win
5/6 – Federer in 2
5/1 – Zverev in 2
11/4 – Federer in 3
11/2 – Zverev in 3
What have they said?
Zverev: ‘I think he’s definitely the favourite. He’s been playing amazing tennis. He pretty much won every single big tournament he played this year. But, you know, I played in five finals this year. I won four. The one that I lost was against Roger. There’s a reason for it. I’m happy to be in the final. I’ll try to enjoy as much as I can.’
Federer: ‘I’m happy – most happy that I’m actually really healthy going into the finals. I haven’t wasted too much energy. I’ve been able to keep points short. I’ve been really clean at net. I think my concentration and just my playing has gone up a notch. I’m just playing better.’
Zverev has enjoyed a great year so far but no man has looked more comfortable at the top of tennis than Federer.
The fear factor surrounding the Swiss is close to an all-time high and it’s virtually impossible to back against right now.
Hopefully the German can put in a better showing than his one-sided defeat to the 19-time Grand Slam champion in Halle earlier this season but it remains likely he’ll end up on the losing side here.
Prediction: Federer in 2