By Brodie Elgin
(August 5, 2013) TORONTO – Toronto represents the first time many top WTA players return to action after Wimbledon, and is one of the largest tournaments in the US Open Series leading up to the final major tournament of the year, the US Open. The overall theme of the All Access Hour at the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank was a sense of a fresh start after the long clay and grass swings.
The most recent Wimbledon champion, Marion Bartoli has had a long month of press and attention, but has thoroughly enjoyed it. “I had the opportunity to do so many things outside of the court, meeting some of the soccer players that I love, from Marseille. [But] it was time to practice, and for hard work.”
She will continue to work with Amelie Mauresmo through the summer and into the US Open, though won’t be able to hire her as a full time coach due to her captaining the French Fed Cup team. “She’s more like my mental coach and someone I can speak to. She really helped me throughout the Championships to release the stress when I was not playing. After that I don’t really need a coach, to be honest with you.” Bartoli also noted that Mauresmo’s talks helped her energy levels and didn’t feel tired even after two weeks of playing at Wimbledon. Marion now has her sights set on the US Open, where she made the quarterfinals in 2012.
It wasn’t just the most recently successful champion who took some time to relax and see some sunshine. Angelique Kerber took a break from tennis, and may have found her new favorite vacation spot. “I went to Mallorca. It was my first time, and it’s not so far from Germany.” She didn’t find the time to hit with Rafael Nadal, however. “No, because it was a vacation without tennis,” she said, laughing. After a successful summer last year, Kerber now finds herself in the top 10, and is the seventh seed in Toronto. “Now I feel the pressure. Last year I had nothing to lose, I just played.”
While some players took the time between tournaments to relax, others were hard at work and making adjustments. Petra Kvitova has made a new commitment to fitness, hiring a new fitness coach in Marek Vseticek. He holds an impressive track record, including working with former Czech and 1998 Australian Open champion Petr Kodra. “We decided after Wimbledon we would like to find a new fitness coach,” said Kvitova. “I think I have a lot of space to improve in my fitness – to try to be quicker.”
The Czech may already be feeling the difference. She played the longest match of her career this past Thursday in Carlsbad, eventually losing in a three and a half hour heartbreaker to Virginie Razznano “I didn’t feel very tired during the match, but the next day when I woke up, it wasn’t too different. [Laughing].” Petra claimed to be feeling back up to full health, and is the defending champion from last year’s version in Montreal. “It’s a great, tough draw every year. It’s always a tough challenge to defend some points here.”
Serena Williams, the top ranked player in the world, took a new approach to her post-Wimbledon schedule. She took to the clay courts of Sweden, and won the WTA International level Collector Swedish Open in Stockholm. “It was a first. I had never done that before. I had never been to Sweden. And after 10 or 15 years you’re like, ‘maybe I’ll try something different’. It felt really good.”
Despite winning Roland Garros, the top ranked American still isn’t thrilled with how the season has gone for her. “I’m not very happy with the way my year has been going. But that’s me.” Williams was upset in the fourth round of Wimbledon by Sabine Lisicki, which followed a trend of surprising big name upsets over the fortnight. Williams was unsure if the trend might continue into the hard court swing. “The one thing about tennis is you never know what can happen. You have to be on every day.” Serena will open her Rogers Cup campaign Wednesday against the first round winner of Chanelle Scheepers and Francesca Schiavone.
Brodie Elgin is the writer of mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News, follow @TennisNewsTPN for updates.