By Marc-Andre Gauthier
(August 3, 2013) MONTREAL, Canada – As we await the beginning of main draw matches in Montreal, tennis fanatics are warming up with some very exciting qualification matches and top player practices.
Let’s Get Started
First to hit Centre Court, on Saturday were Erik Chvojka from Canada and Lukasz Kubot of Poland. Sitting at the 456th in the world rankings, the Canadian wasn’t really expected to win. In fact, Kubot, ranked 67th, played clinical tennis and hardly made any major mistakes, especially in his service games, making it even harder for Chvojka to break through. The highlight of this match happened on the very last point when Kubot lobbed Chvojka. The ball was called out. The umpire decided to overrule it leaving the crowd and Chvojka in disbelief. Looked fairly out actually. Otherwise it was simply a good, close tennis match with a great atmosphere. In the meantime, on National Bank Court, Peter Polansky dismissed the 8th seed Lukas Lacko 6-4 6-4 ! He’s the only Canadian who made it through the first qualification round.
I Can Be Your Hero
Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray followed on Center, shortly after, for a casual and crowd pleasing practice. Given that the first weekend at the Rogers Cup is Family Weekend (Free entrance to the grounds and most courts), having star players practice on a big stage provides the kids with the opportunity to watch some of the players they look up to for free. Parents love it, kids love it.
The match between American players Jack Sock and Tim Smyczek had everything in it. Good stuff and bad stuff. Just like a good old hotdog! From Smyczek’s incapacity to sustain a five shot rally in the first set to Sock’s apparent fatigue in the second set, you just never could have predicted the outcome. But, live, the thrill and uncertainty made it enjoyable for fans. Sock won 6-2 3-6 6-3.
I’ve had the chance to travel a bit and attend tournaments like Wimbledon, Roland Garros, Toronto, and Brisbane. But, for me, there’s nothing like Montreal. It’s as though the whole city is breathing tennis for a week. Centre Court is usually full attendance within the first two days when Canucks hit the court, it feels like a Davis Cup match. It’s thunderous and vibrant. There has to be a reason why Wozniak, Dancevic, Dubois and Raonic have been doing so well, here, in Montreal. Okay, I’m getting very subjective now. If you’re considering travelling to attend a tennis tournament, Montreal shall not disappoint you.
Marc-Andre Gauthier is in Montreal this week photographing the Rogers Cup for Tennis Panorama News.