Andy Murray will be on top of the men's ATP rankings on Monday, August 7th in what could be his last week as the World No. 1. It's possible, maybe even probable, that Rafael Nadal will overtake top spot on tour with the August 14th rankings following the 2017 Rogers Cup. With regard to Roger Federer and his candidacy to regain top spot on tour, Montreal could certainly have something to do him getting back to No. 1. However, ultimately tennis fans will have to look at events down the road for Federer to regain that ranking.

Federer opens his tournament on Wednesday

Recent news with the Swiss Maestro has to do with his draw at the 2017 Rogers Cup. According to the website for the tournament, Federer is scheduled to contest his first match in Montreal this year on Wednesday afternoon. At that time Federer will face either Peter Polansky or Vasek Pospisil. From Federer's point of view, the tournament is a five-round event as he has a bye through the preliminary round, the round of sixty-four.

Federer will enter Montreal precisely 1205 ranking points behind Murray for the top spot. With Murray missing the tournament, Federer can only gain ranking points on the Scot over the next week. The battle for No. 1 is certainly complicated right now because it's a three-horse race.

Due to that, all three players in the battle have to be looked in terms of what they have to gain or lose in the weeks ahead.

Looking at the top-three players

At the 2017 Rogers Cup, none of Murray, Nadal, or Federer have any points to defend. Each player missed the tournament last year. At the 2017 Western & Southern Open (the Cincinnati Masters), neither Federer nor Nadal have any ranking points to defend.

They each missed the tournament last season. Murray, on the other hand, was in the 2016 Cincinnati final and he has 600 ranking points to defend there this season.

At the 2017 US Open, Murray has 360 points to defend for making last year's quarterfinal. Nadal has a piddly 180 points to defend for making the round of sixteen last season.

Meanwhile, Federer has no ranking points to defend. The following bullet points compile what the three players have to defend in the next three big tournaments (Montreal, Cincinnati, and New York).

  • Nadal has a total of 180 ranking points to defend
  • Murray has a total of 960 ranking points to defend
  • Federer has a total of 0 points to defend

Federer is in the best position to gain ground on his main adversaries. However, he is also behind them at this point in the race. Murray could be out of the picture as there is a lot of talk with him shutting things down to deal with his hip injury. That largely simplifies matters as between Federer and Nadal. However, there is a chance that Murray might still compete well if the injury buzz is overblown.

Federer needs a good Montreal result

Montreal could have a lot to do with whether Federer gets the World No. 1 ranking back. If for instance, Rafael Nadal won the title he would overtake Murray and grow a lead that is already 920 points on Federer. A title for Nadal would mean that Federer could do no better than 2nd place. That would see Nadal gain 400 points of separation between he and Federer. Heading into Cincinnati, Nadal would then have a 1320-point lead.

The scenarios are numerous as each round of elimination has different ranking points associated with it. However, Federer fans will want him to outscore Nadal in Montreal in order to cut into the deficit. Most of the scenarios where Nadal outscores Federer in Montreal (i.e.,.

lasts longer in the tournament) will make Rafa impossible to catch in Cincinnati.

If Nadal outscores Federer in both Montreal and Cincinnati in terms of ranking points, then there is still the US Open coming up. That event awards 2000 points to a champion and the Grand Slams swing the rankings a lot. However, Nadal's 920-point lead over Federer looms large at this point. Federer may have been smart to miss the clay-court season to prepare for Wimbledon, but the ranking points for that portion of the season are still missing. If Nadal outscores Federer in both Montreal and Cincinnati, then the Spaniard might have a large lead heading into the US Open. Depending on how things go, Nadal could be impossible to overcome at the US Open.

There is a lot riding on Montreal for Federer this upcoming week and then in Cincinnati. He's the one that has to cut into Nadal's lead. If Nadal grows his lead, then things become harder for the Swiss. It's true that Federer has nothing but ranking points to gain for the balance of the season. However, that's almost true of Nadal too as his scheduling was limited this time last year. The Montreal Masters and Cincinnati are key for Federer, more so than Nadal because Rafa already has a bit of a lead on Federer.