Rogers Cup Day 01: Kvitova, Stosur Overcome the Rain in Montreal Opener
By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin | Montreal
(July 25, 2016) MONTREAL – In a day interrupted by numerous rain showers, former 2012 winner Petra Kvitova and 2011 finalist Samantha Stosur have advanced to the second round of the Montreal Rogers Cup.
Kvitova, seeded 12th, has been coming off a difficult 2016: the two-time Wimbledon champion, who usually excels on grass, failed to win two matches in a row in any of her three grass tournaments. For her first match on North American hardcourt, she was facing difficult humid and heavy conditions, which have proved difficult for her in the past. Also, her opponent, qualifier Magda Linette, was coming off an impressive win against Sabine Lisicki this weekend and had pushed Venus Williams to a third set last week in Stanford. On paper, the upset looked possible.
But that was underestimating Kvitova, who is known for coming out with dominant performances when they are least expected. Right from the get-go, she looked like the player who won this same event in 2012: incredibly powerful in every aspect of the game. Her serve was especially on point today, not allowing one single break point to Linette in the 6-1 6-2 win. There was just nothing the Pole could do in, and Alizé Cornet or Andrea Petkovic will have a lot on their plate in the second round if Kvitova keeps that consistent level of play.
Samantha Stosur, who reached the final at the Rogers Cup in 2011 right before her US Open win, was also facing tough competition in Heather Watson. The Brit, who was just coming from her inspiring mixed doubles title in her home slam at Wimbledon, has had success on hard court this year, including her third WTA title in Monterey. Stosur, the 13th seed, drew first blood taking an early 5-3 lead, before feisty Watson leveled the match at 5-all. The Australian, who relies on her heavy forehand and trademarked kick serve, upped her aggression which proved to be too much for the more defensive Watson. After closing the first set 7-5, she broke three times in the second set to wrap up this first round in two sets.
“I thought it was pretty good (performance) considering we had to wait a long time to play,” said Stosur. “Sometimes it’s hard to kind of find some rhythm, you know, get really good energy out on the court after you’ve been sitting around for a long time.
“I was quite pleased overall with how I played. There’s obviously things you want to do better. But to get through that in straight sets, I’m pretty happy.”
Stosur noted the keys to her win:”I feel like when I was able to go back behind her to her backhand, that worked well. Overall I thought I served pretty well, so there wasn’t, like, a lot of points on serve where she could really dictate off the first shot. If I could get a good strike, I was in good shape to win those points. I think I was able to attack her second serve pretty well.”
Other notable matches on Monday saw Daria Gavrilova beat Annika Beck 6-4,6-3 to set up a mouth-watering night match on Tuesday against Simon Halep, while Madison Brengle and Barbora Strycova respectively fought past Ekaterina Makarova and Caroline Garcia in high-quality three set battles.
Tuesday marks the entrance of local star Eugenie Bouchard in a battle of Grand Slam finalists against Lucie Safarova; also on court will be 3rd seed and French Open champion Garbine Muguruza, 10th seed Madison Keys, Stanford winner Johanna Konta and Dominika Cibulkova.
RESULTS – JULY 25, 2016
Women’s Singles – First Round
 P. Kvitova (CZE) d [Q] M. Linette (POL) 61 62
 S. Stosur (AUS) d H. Watson (GBR) 75 63
 E. Svitolina (UKR) d [Q] J. Brady (USA) 62 64
[Q] N. Broady (GBR) d M. Puig (PUR) 36 64 62
M. Brengle (USA) d E. Makarova (RUS) 64 16 64
B. Strycova (CZE) d [WC] C. Garcia (FRA) 26 63 63
D. Gavrilova (AUS) d A. Beck (GER) 64 63
[Q] C. Giorgi (ITA) d S. Stephens (USA) 76(2) 76(4)
M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) d [Q] N. Hibino (JPN) 62 60
Women’s Doubles – First Round
K. Bondarenko (UKR) / O. Savchuk (UKR) d  T. Babos (HUN) / L. Safarova (CZE) 62 62
[WC] S. Halep (ROU) / M. Niculescu (ROU) d G. Dabrowski (CAN) / A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) 63 62
(July 25, 2016) Coming off the Junior Boys’ singles title at Wimbledon, 17-year-old Denis Shapovalov received a wildcard into the Rogers Cup in Toronto, his home tournament. The youngest player in the tournament made good use of his entry by upsetting 11th seed Australia’s Nick Kyrgios 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3 in the first round on Monday night.
The winner could hardly believe that he won the match when he spoke to media.
“Nick is an incredible tennis player,” he said. “He’s top 20 in the world. Maybe even future No. 1 in the world.
“So obviously I didn’t expect to win. But like I said before, I’m just going to go fight for every point. That’s what I did. The outcome was very good today.”
“My whole family was there, my whole team, my sponsor, my physio. Couple of very close friends to me were there.”
“On the on-court interview, this girl, she was interviewing me and she asked me, Do you want me to pinch you?”
“I said, Yeah. Frankly I actually didn’t feel the pinch. I might be dreaming still. Yeah, it’s still hitting me. It’s going to be crazy, but there’s a next match and I have got to get ready for tomorrow.”
“I just didn’t play great,” Kyrgios said.
“He played well. You know, obviously he was excited playing in front of his home crowd. I know what it feels like obviously to come off one of your biggest junior results and then play in one of your home tournaments. I know that feeling. It’s great. I hope he enjoys it and rests up and does well.
“Yeah, I’m not going to tell you what I did or didn’t do to prepare for this match,” the eleventh seed said to reporters. “I just played pretty bad, but he played great and he earned it.”
Shapovalov said that he made the request to play on Centre Court.
“I thought it would be fun with all the fans,” he said. “I love playing on a big stage. I love, you know, impressing people. So, yeah, it was very fun for me.”
“So, you know, they really helped me a lot. And I think just the atmosphere really carried me forward today.”
Shapovalov will face former Top Ten player Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in the second round. “Tournament is not over,” Shapovalov commented. “I could celebrate my win from Nick after the tournament but now I’m going to focus for Dimitrov.”
RESULTS – MONDAY, 25 JULY 2016
Singles – First Round
 J. Isner (USA) d D. Sela (ISR) 46 63 62
[WC] D. Shapovalov (CAN) d  N. Kyrgios (AUS) 76(2) 36 63
 B. Tomic (AUS) d [Q] A. Gonzalez (COL) 64 76(1)
 J. Sock (USA) d D. Kudla (USA) 62 62
G. Muller (LUX) d [PR] D. Tursunov (RUS) 76(5) 61
[WC] P. Polansky (CAN) d [Q] T. Smyczek (USA) 46 63 60
[Q] R. Harrison (USA) d A. Kuznetsov (RUS) 63 61
B. Coric (CRO) d I. Dodig (CRO) 57 64 62
S. Querrey (USA) d [WC] F. Dancevic (CAN) 76(5) 64
G. Dimitrov (BUL) d Y. Sugita (JPN) 57 76(5) 64
K. Anderson (RSA) d V. Troicki (SRB) 76(4) 63
[WC] S. Diez (CAN) d K. Edmund (GBR) 36 63 62
M. Youzhny (RUS) d S. Robert (FRA) 63 76(6)
Doubles – First Round
G. Dimitrov (BUL) / S. Wawrinka (SUI) d L. Pouille (FRA) / D. Thiem (AUT) 46 76(2) 12-10
T. Berdych (CZE) / R. Stepanek (CZE) d F. Martin (FRA) / J. Sousa (POR) 61 36 11-9
All photos by Nida Alibhai
By Curt Janka
(July 24, 2016) STANFORD, California – British No. 1 Johanna Konta earned her first WTA title by battling past top seed Venus Williams 7-5, 5-7, 6-2. This match was Konta’s first final while Williams was playing her 80th final. That said, Konta played with poise and control. She hit her spots and capitalized on opportunities.
Williams put up a valiant fight. Despite going down a set and two breaks in the second set, she never gave up. “Just because it’s 4-1 doesn’t mean the match is over” Williams said. She couldn’t quite come back in the third set, however, and gave lots of credit to her opponent. “She had a lot of great shots. She came up with a lot of winners. She just played a great match.”
After her semifinal, Konta said controlling her breathing helped her win. She was asked if it helped again today. “Breathing! Revolutionary, guys” she laughed, then explained further, “It helps with my train of thought. The more simple you keep things, the more clarity you have and the less dumb you play.“
So, how was her breathing near the end of the second set when Venus came back from two breaks? More laughs, “Yeah I probably did forget to breath there.”
In the third set, Konta said she went back to keeping things simple. “Coming into that third set it was about just putting things behind you and really breaking it down. Every single point was a battle and you try to win as many battles as possible.”
Along the way, Konta said she found herself wanting to learn from Williams. “I was thinking a lot in that third set,” she explained “about how many times Venus has been in this position. And just really appreciating that and understanding the magnitude of that. How lucky am I to play against one of the best players in the sport that I’m a part of. Just being grateful of that just makes things lighter and puts things in perspective. Hopefully one day I’ll be as experienced as she is.”
She is indeed learning from one of the best and climbing up the rankings along the way. Both Konta and Williams will be moving up – as of Monday Konta will be No. 14 in the world with Williams up a notch to No. 6.
Rogers Cup, Montréal, July 24, 2016 – On Sunday, Tennis Canada announced that Serena Williams is withdrawing from Rogers Cup.
The world no.1 holds three Rogers Cup titles and reached the semifinals at the last two editions of the event.
“Due to inflammation in my shoulder, I unfortunately must withdraw from the Rogers Cup. I was looking forward to competing in Montreal and I look forward to returning soon,” said Serena Williams.
“Of course, we are disappointed that Serena will not play in the tournament this year. The fans really enjoyed the time she spent in the city in 2014,” said Eugène Lapierre, tournament director of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank. “Because this is an Olympic year, the players have very full schedules. Sometimes your body needs rest. We hope that Serena will recover quickly and wish her much success for the rest of the season.”
(July 23, 2016) After a dominating first set, top seed Venus Williams survived some serving problems near the end of the second set, including saving two set points, to beat U.S. countrywoman, No. 78 in the world, Alison Riske 6-1, 7-6(2) to reach the Stanford final on Saturday night.
For Venus Williams, who is playing the main draw of the Bank of the West Classic for the thirteenth time, this will be her eighth final. The world No. 7 last reached the Stanford final in 2009, falling to Marion Bartoli. Williams captured the title in 2000 and 2002.
Williams breezed through the first set, winning 76% of first serve points, winning 30 of 47 points in the set, going 2 for 2 on break points.
In the second set Williams and Riske exchanged breaks in the fifth and sixth games, with the seven-time major champion getting another break in the ninth game to try and serve out the match at 5-4 in the second. Williams’ serve vanished in the tenth game, when she hit three straight double faults to give Riske the break. Riske held for 6-5, but in the next game Williams was still having problems with her first serve. She fought off two set points against her to reach the second set tiebreak which she won easily 7-2.
The 36-year-old Williams will take on 25-year-old British No. 1 and world No. 18 Johanna Konta for the title. Williams and Konta are tied 1-1 in head-to-head play, with Konta upsetting Williams, the last time they faced off in the first round of the most recent Australian Open where Konta won in straight sets. Williams defeated Konta in three sets in final eight of Wuhan in 2015.
— WTA (@WTA) July 24, 2016
Williams will be attempting to win her 50th title in her 80th final on Sunday. She’s hoping to tie her sister Serena, who has three Bank of the West trophies.
“It would be nice to get three. Who doesn’t wanna be like Serena?”
Venus who has played of her matches this week at night, will be playing her first day match in Sunday’s final. She said near the end of her news conference that she was going to prep for the final by getting some rest.
“Right after this question I’m going to go to bed and get some rest,” she said.
How about that rally!
— WTA (@WTA) July 24, 2016
By Curt Janka
(July 23, 2016) STANFORD, California – Johanna Konta lost just six points on her serve as she toppled Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-2 in the first semifinal of the Bank of the West Classic. The win earns Konta her first WTA final and it’s the first time a British player has played for the trophy here since Virginia Wade in 1981.
The third seed Konta served a total of nine games and held at love for six of them. Cibulkova, the second seed and 2013 champion, is arguably one of the better returners on tour, so what made Konta’s serve so tough today? “She was placing the serve so well and it was hard for me to do something with it,” the Slovak Cibulkova answered. “She was changing the directions of the serve, so that was the main thing. Today she was just serving too well.“
The 25-year-old British woman, currently ranked No. 18, backed up her serve with solid ground strokes and returns, breaking her higher-seeded opponent three times. After the match, she was pleased with her performance. “I’m really happy to have come through that and to be into my first final,” Konta said. “I thought I served well and did a good job in the end of staying in the present. She [Cibulkova] is an incredible competitor, so I knew going into the match that I was going to have to be there for every single point. I achieved that, so I’m feeling very grateful and looking forward to my next match tomorrow.”
Konta was also playing in the doubles semifinal with her partner, Maria Sanchez, against Darija Jurak and Anastasia Rodionova. Konta will play Venus Williams in the final. The two-time Stanford winner beat Alison Riske in the night session.
“I’m really happy to have come through that and to be into my first final,” Konta said after her win.
By Curt Janka
(July 22, 2016) STANFORD, California – A relaxed Venus Williams played composed tennis as she breezed to a 6-4, 6-1 win over 17-year-old wildcard Catherine Bellis at the Bank of the West Classic on Friday night. While it may have taken three sets for Williams to get by her previous opponent, there was no sign of tension in her play on Friday night. Experience may have been the key against her younger opponent.
When asked why she looked so at ease on the court she said, “I just felt like I had a lot of experience and as a young person she has to go for a lot more than I ever have to go for because I understand the game more. So I felt just comfortable that I could control the match.”
“After Wimbledon I was really pumped,” the 36-year-old Williams said. “I was like, ‘I can’t wait to play.’ That felt good. It felt good to be eager.”
When asked what else she is looking forward to this summer, the two-time Stanford winner replied, “There’s so much to look forward to! The semifinals tomorrow is like my main focus. The Olympics I’ve been waiting for four years. As soon as the last one was over I was ready to go again. It’s getting closer and it feels surreal but when I get there it’s gonna be real. And after that you just turn right back around and play the Open.”
Despite a quick second set, Bellis did make the first set very competitive. “I learned a lot,” she said. “I think mainly I just have to focus on the key points. There are a couple points in the first set that I think if I played a little bit more aggressive I could have won them. But, you know, she’s obviously the number one seed here, so it’s unbelievable to be on the court with someone like her.“
Asked about her short-term goals, Bellis smiled and said, “Yesterday, actually, I committed to Stanford. I’m just going to see how the next year goes in my pro career.” She explained that after another year on tour, she would start her college career at Stanford.
Top seed Williams will face Alison Riske in the semifinals on Saturday. Riske advanced when her quarterfinal opponent fourth seed Coco Vandeweghe suffered an ankle injury and had to retire.
In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Dominika Cibulkova came back from two early breaks to win 7-5, 6-0 over Misaki Doi. Cibulkova will next face third seed Johanna Konta, who beat her quarterfinal opponent, Zheng Saiai 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.