Montreal Day 2 Wrap-up: Chaos.
By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin and Maxime Labrecque | August 5th, 2014
Here are a few notes from what was a chaotic but memorable, crazy but entertaining day of tennis at the Montreal Rogers Cup.
The Party is (Already) Over…
Montreal is known for its bagels, but no one expected Eugenie Bouchard to be on the receiving end of two of them last night. In her first match since the Wimbledon final, the local favorite was rusty and couldn’t play her game, losing 6-0, 2-6, 6-0 against American qualifier Shelby Rogers. The pressure on Bouchard this week probably was just too much: everywhere in the streets, in every single interview with players, only one name was on everyone’s lips: Genie. While Bouchard seems to enjoy playing such a role and enjoys the spotlight, she concluded herself in her post-match press conference that this week would serve as a learning experience for her as to how to deal with all the off-court attention and media duties. While the Wimbledon finalist never could really find her game, except for a few glimpses in the second set, Rogers was solid throughout and wasn’t dazzled by the loud, raucous and patriotic crowd. This is certainly not what neither the tournament organizers nor the Montreal crowd wanted, but serves as a notice of the risk of over-exposure.
Let there be light!
What does a tournament do when there is a power outage for more than eight hours during the day? Panic, yes. And find ways to get through the day. When the scoreboard went blank in the middle of the Williams/Pavlyuchenkova match at around 1.30pm, people just thought it was a mere unplugged wire, or technical bug. But when the tournament crew realized that over 200 000 homes on Montreal Island were without electricity, and that it would most likely take hours to get resolved, they had to get in resolution mode, and fast. While playing daytime tennis without electricity is somewhat fun, with no scoreboard, umpires yelling the score and pre-2004-no-challenge line calling, a night session obviously needs lights. Especially a night session an entire city has been waiting for, and more than 10 000 people on the way to the site. Hydro-Quebec, the local utility company, came to the rescue: they brought out one of the largest generators they had to power the lights of both Center Court and Court Banque Nationale. But that was it: no lights in corridors, in bathrooms, no food stands. And when the real electricity got back at around 9pm, the entire venue went dark for about a minute, right in the middle of a rally in the Dubois/Muguruza match. It ended up to be quite a memorable moment, with the crowd lighting up their phones in the stands, and turning the stadium into a mini-rock concert.
Here are the best quotes of the day on the power outage:
- ”I felt like I was playing juniors in Southern California all over again!”, Venus Williams.
- ”It was so dark in the locker room, we had to use our cellphones for light! And the water was cold!”, Caroline Wozniacki.
- ”It never happened in my entire career! It gave me a chance to go back home and take a small nap. It’s something you have to deal with, it’s part of the game.”
- And last, but not least, poor Eugene Lapierre, tournament director, who probably had the worst day of his career: ”I wish no one would have to experience this. I wish this to no one.” Gotta feel for him.
In the twenty (impressive) years of her career, Venus Williams had never played the Rogers Cup in Montreal, and never won a match in four tries in Toronto. She had a good test in the first round against Russian Pavlyuchenkova, who had won two of her previous four meetings. A large crowd showed up for her first appearance, almost filling up the 11 000 seats Center Court and participating loudly in the match, despite most being a bit lost by the lack of a scoreboard. The American had a close to perfect start, hitting deep, dominant shots and creating the Pavlyuchenkova error, winning the first set 6-1. A few errors then started creeping in her game in the second set, and the Russian started being more aggressive, leveling the match by winning the second set 6-3. In the third set, Venus opened up the court by using more angles, finishing off with flawless swing volleys. Reeling off the last four games, Venus set up a second round match against Putintseva, surprising winner yesterday against Pennetta.
It’s good to be back!
Former winners Caroline Wozniacki (2010) and Ana Ivanovic (2006) both won easily today in their first round matches. Caroline Wozniacki prevailed 6-1 6-1 against Daniela Hantuchova, managing to turn defense into offense incredibly well. A vintage performance for the 2010 winner, who, after the loss of Genie Bouchard, has an open draw to meet good friend Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. During her late afternoon match, Ana Ivanovic, the 2006 winner, showed the form that saw her barely upset Serena Williams last week in Stanford against Swiss Timea Bacsinszky, only losing three games. Despite some spirited fight from her opponent late in the match, the Serb accumulated forehand winners and looked like a real contender to reach the final weekend. Certainly two players to watch over the week.
The Return of the Swiss Miss
Montreal and Martina Hingis have a love affair. The Swiss Miss, with her French speeches, constant grin and classic game, always was a crowd favorite in the city and always performed well at the Rogers Cup. It was therefore surprising when tournament directors decided to schedule her doubles return on Court 5, one of the smallest match courts of the venue. Without a surprise, the stands were packed from warm up to match point, when Hingis and partner Pennetta faced the tough team of Rodionova/Kudryatseva. Despite a strong start and 3-0 lead, Hingis/Pennetta lost the first set 6-4, with numerous errors from Pennetta. In the second, Rodionova started being her usual self: complaining about calls, holding her hand up when her opponents were about to serve, etc. This seemed to fuel Hingis and Pennetta, who took the second set 6-2, pretty comfortably. Without much of a surprise, Rodionova/Kudryatseva decided to take a bathroom break right before the super tiebreak: during those 10 minutes, Hingis and Pennetta actually had time to rally and practice serves. The strategy to break off the rhythm didn’t pay off, as the crowd favorites led the tiebreak from beginning to end to win it 10-6, proving once more that sometimes, the bad don’t always win. Asked whether she came back for fun, Hingis’ answer was straightforward: ”I don’t come to play one or two matches. I’m here to win the tournament”. Years might go by, but some things don’t change.
 Victoria Azarenka (BLR) def. Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-4 2-6 6-4
 Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) def. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 6-4 6-4
Samantha Stosur (AUS) def. [Q] Monica Puig (PUR) 6-2 6-2
Garbine Muguruza (SPA) def. [Q] Stéphanie Dubois (CAN) 6-1 6-7(4) 6-2
[LL] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) def. [Q] Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 6-2 6-1
 Carla Suarez Navarro (SPA) def. Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) 6-4 6-3
Caroline Garcia (FRA) def. [Q] Karin Knapp (ITA) 6-2 6-7(5) 6-1
Madison Keys (USA) def. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-1 3-2 ret.
[Q] Coco Vandeweghe (USA) def. Shuai Zhang (CHN) 6-2 6-4
[LL] Elena Vesnina (RUS) def. Camila Giorgi (ITA) 6-4 1-6 7-6(1)
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) def. Romina Oprandi (SUI) 6-4 6-0
Casey Dellacqua (AUS) def. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 6-0 4-6 6-2
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