2014/12/21

2014 Rogers Cup Montreal Photo Gallery

MONTREAL – Photographer Marc-Andre Gauthier snapped photos of the Rogers Cup in Montreal this week, here is a gallery of his photos from the tournament so far. More to come.

Follow his photo coverage of the tournament on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Montreal Day 05 and 06 Wrap-Up: Crowd Pleasers

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

Montreal Day 05 and 06 Wrap-Up: Crowd Pleasers

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin | August 8th, 2014

(August 8, 2014) MONTREAL – The Montreal tennis crowd was treated to great matches on Thursday and Friday, as eight of the twelve presented singles matches which went the distance. Here is what stood out from those two days.

Patience is a Virtue (or XXV)

The Montreal-based Williams Sisters fans really didn’t have much to cheer about in the past, as Venus had never showed up to the event and Serena had not played a match at Uniprix Stadium in over 14 years. But patience is a virtue, and the crowd will now be witnessing a Williams showdown in the first semi-final Saturday. A dream match for the tournament organizers, who were understandably worried for the tournament’s storylines after the early defeat of local star Genie Bouchard.

Both sisters had a tough road to the semis: while Serena battled through Lucie Safarova and good friend Caroline Wozniacki (rallying from 6-4, 4-2 down) respectively, Venus played two long battles against Angelique Kerber and Carla Suarez Navarro. The Kerber-Venus match, played under the lights on Thursday, produced some standing-ovation worthy tennis, as both players fought skin and teeth to get the win.

Asked about her previous record of 0-4 at the Rogers Cup, all in Toronto, Venus replied: ‘If I would have known these last 20 years all I had to do was come to Montréal that would be the trick to winning in Canada, I would have done it a long time ago! You live, you learn. Sometimes it takes a couple of decades, but it was worth it!’. This semi-final will be the 25th encounter between the two sisters, Serena having the edge 14-10. It will be their first match in over a year, and only their second meeting since 2009.

3/8

Only three of the top 8 seeds advanced to the quarterfinals in this 2014 edition. After the surprise of Bouchard’s loss to Rogers in round 2, four top seeds lost in thrilling matches on Thursday: Petra Kvitova (2) against Makarova, Maria Sharapova(4) to Suarez-Navarro (14), Kerber (6) to Venus Williams and Jelena Jankovic (7) to Coco Vandeweghe. For Sharapova and Kvitova, signs of rust were apparent in their first tournament on the summer hardcourts, as they couldn’t hit through their feisty, more consistent opponents. Other than Serena Williams, only Agniezska Radwanska (3) and Victoria Azarenka (8) sneaked through the quarters, facing each other in a pretty forgettable quarterfinal on Friday night. Azarenka was clearly hampered by a knee injury, and after missing most of 2014 already, things did not look good for the Belarussian out there. For Radwanska, this is her third semifinal in Canada and she will be looking to reach her first finals against Makarova in the night semifinal.

From Q to QF

Coco Vandeweghe was the revelation of the 2014 Rogers Cup, playing an astonishing 13 sets of tennis in 6 days. After getting comfortably through qualifying by winning two matches on the first Sunday, she handled Shuai Zhang in the first round, before beating the ‘Serbian Sisters’, 9th seed Ivanovic and 7th seed Jankovic, in consecutive battles to reach the quarterfinals. Both matches were classics, and probably two of the most dramatic of the week.

In her post-match interviews this week, she mentioned setting the goal to beat a top 10 player by the end of 2014: she accomplished just that, twice in less than 24 hours, and will be a player to watch for the upcoming hardcourt swing. Her big serve and forehand combination couldn’t get her through Makarova in the quarterfinals, who was solid throughout, but did impress the Montreal crowd. With her pure athleticism and a coach that became a star this week for his honest, very honest, feedback on her matches, Vandeweghe could well be on the way for a seeding position at the 2015 Australian Open.

Follow live twitter updates from the Coupe Rogers Montreal on @TennisNewsTPN throughout the week.

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Montreal Rogers Cup Day 03: Or should we say Day 04?

 

Serena Williams

Montreal Rogers Cup Day 03: Or should we say Day 04?

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin and Maxime Labrecque

MONTREAL – After Tuesday’s Genie-gate and multiple blackouts, Wednesday seemed to follow the script, until a match that lasted until…Day 04. Here is a wrap up of today’s events.

Besties on cruise control

The friendship between Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki seemed to evolve over the past few weeks, especially after both were seen hanging out in Miami after the infamous ‘Wozillroy’ breakup. In her news conference yesterday, Wozniacki was all praise for the American No. 1, stating she was ‘incredible, both on and off the court’, ‘a fantastic person’ and that she ‘loved her personality’. Both players, who are set to play in the quarterfinals, had a near perfect match today, getting comfortably to the third round. On one hand, Wozniacki didn’t have to do much against Czech Koukalova, and won 6-1 6-2 in just over an hour, confirming her great post-breakup form. As for Williams, who was playing her first match in Montreal since retiring in the 2000 finals, she only gave 2 games to veteran and 2011 Us Open champion Samantha Stosur. It was one of Serena’s best performances of 2014, being aggressive and not letting the Australian in the match. Serena’s French was also near perfect in the on-court interview, and it seems that her relationship with the Montreal crowd, which could have been tense after a few boos in 2000, is now back on track.

Paris-Montréal

Maria Sharapova and Garbine Muguruza had played a dramatic quarterfinal match at the French Open this year, and this second round was certainly tricky for the 4th seed. Playing in her first hardcourt match of the summer, Sharapova had no room for rust, facing one of the most promising youngsters on the WTA. Despite finishing up a dramatic and intense three-set match against local Stephanie Dubois very late last night, it seemed like Muguruza wanted revenge on her loss in Paris. Hitting her signature clean and flat groundies, she kept Maria off-balance and on the run, and built a nice 6-4 2-1 lead. Serving at 40-0, it seemed like the Spaniard could pull off the upset. But arguably no other player is as resilient as Maria Sharapova, and she proved it again. Winning 11 of the last 13 games, Maria used her first serve well, only losing 4 points when her first strike when in, and shook off the rust to reach the third round. Asked in the post-match interview what she was most happy about, Sharapova had a very wise answer: ‘You know, when you’re able to finish stronger than your start, that’s always a positive because you give yourself an opportunity to keep playing in the tournament. When you’re in that position, there’s always another chance to work in another match to improve and get better’. That next chance will be against Carla Suarez-Navarro, Muguruza’s doubles partner, who will certainly show Maria a very different type of ball striking.

12.36am (or the Never-Ending Day).

What happens when you add up two third-set tiebreaks, two short rain delays, Ana Ivanovic, Coco Vandeweghe and substract a doubles match? A 12.36am finish. Court Banque Nationale today saw a series of long, very long matches and play ended in possibly one of the latest hours recorded at the Rogers Cup, when qualifier Coco Vandeweghe completed her 6-7(7) 7-6(7) 6-4 second round win against 9th seed Ana Ivanovic after close to three hours of play. It all started with 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova and qualifier Heather Watson, who played for more than 3 hours. The Brit, who led 6-2 4-0, couldn’t finish the match in the second set, which she lost 7-6. She then passively let go of a 5-2 lead in the third set, only to finally win in an error-filled third set tiebreak. Watson will face 8th seed Azarenka in the third round. Then came in Jelena Jankovic and Sloane Stephens, who both didn’t want to be overshadowed in the drama department. The American won a tight tiebreak in the first, only to get broken once in the second and lose it 6-4. Despite some spirited fight, Stephens could not manage to repeat her feat of the first set, losing the last three points, also in a third set tiebreak, this time in 3 hours 15 minutes. In the third match (and only two-setter of the court today), Venus Williams dominated young qualifier Yulia Putintseva. Venus was solid, especially on her forehand, while Putintseva was hoping for mistakes. Venus was about to serve for the match at 6-3 5-2, but a rain delay interrupted the match for 45 minutes, only to add to the delay of the final singles match. Venus finished it quickly when the play resumed and will face 6th seed Angelique Kerber of Germany in tomorrow’s night session match. Then came in Coco and Ana, who played one of the best matches of 2014: hard serves, big fight, huge shot-making and just good ol’ WTA drama.

 

Other results:
2nd round
[15] Lucie Safarova (CZE) def. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) 6-4 6-2
[14] Carla Suarez Navarro (SPA) def. [LL] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-1 3-6 6-3
[6] Angelique Kerber (GER) def. Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-4 6-1
Sabine Lisicki (GER) def. Madison Keys (USA) 4-6 6-1 6-4
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) def. [LL] Elena Vesnina (RUS) 6-3 6-2
[2] Petra Kvitova (CZE) def. Casey Dellacqua (AUS) 6-3 6-2

Follow live twitter updates from the Coupe Rogers Montreal on @TennisNewsTPN throughout the week.

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Montreal Day 2 Wrap-up: Chaos

Eugenie Bouchard

Eugenie Bouchard

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.

Bonjour, Venus!

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.

Other Results

2nd round:
[8] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) def. Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-4 2-6 6-4
[3] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) def. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 6-4 6-4

1st round:
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
[14] 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

Follow live twitter updates from the Coupe Rogers Montreal on @TennisNewsTPN throughout the week.

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Montreal Day 01 Wrap-Up: Mixed Feelings for the Seeds

 

Sabine Lisicki (Photo by Maria Noble)

Sabine Lisicki (Photo by Maria Noble)

Montreal Day 01 Wrap-Up: Mixed Feelings for the Seeds

Written by Charles David Mathieu-Poulin and Maxime Labrecque | August 4th, 2014

MONTREAL – Four seeds were in action on the first day of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, and only two of them got through to the second round. Here is a wrap-up of the events of the day.

Lisicki wins battle of former Grand Slam finalists

The first round match between Sabine Lisicki and 13th seed Sara Errani was the most intriguing on paper: two players, one a natural attacker and the other one a high-level defender, and two former Grand Slam finalists. The German has struggled in 2014, except for her cherished Wimbledon tournament, and had never won a match in Montreal in her previous two tries. But she played what could be considered a perfect first set, hitting an outstanding 18 winners to none for her opponent, and came back late in the second to wrap up the match in two sets. This is a very positive win for Lisicki, who will face the winner of the Kuznetsova/Keys first round, another tough-to-call opener, in what is the most open section of the draw.

Sorana Cirstea

Points come and go…

Last year, Sorana Cirstea literally came out of nowhere to reach the Rogers Cup final in Toronto, beating back-to-back the likes of Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Petra Kvitova and Na Li. It was one of the most impressive series of wins of the year, but also a large amount of points all crammed in a single week. It was good enough to keep her in the top 40 all year, but there was a large risk of a major drop in case of an early exit in Montreal. When the draw was made and her first round opponent was known (Czech Lucie Safarova, Wimbledon semifinalist and 15th seed), a few people cringed at the possible impact on her rankings. After an expected 6-4 6-2 win by Safarova today, it was confirmed that Cirstea would most likely drop out of the top 80. A tough road ahead for the Romanian who will now have to fight her way back to the top 50.

Tough night for local wildcards

Françoise Abanda and Aleksandra Wozniak, the two Canadian wildcards of the tournament, had a difficult night on Monday against higher-ranked opponents. While Abanda managed to win a set against 12th-seed Cibulkova in her first ever Rogers Cup main draw, Wozniak struggled to find any rhythm against Sloane Stephens and lost in two quick sets. Abanda, who is only 17, has been climbing up the ranks quickly after a very successful junior career and said herself that she ‘‘played one of [her] best matches ever tonight’’. Usually very-calm-bordering-on-stoic, she showed more emotions tonight, an encouraging signs of things to come. Clearly, this is the first of many more Rogers Cup main draw appearances for her. Wozniak, on the other hand, has had her fair shares of appearances at the Rogers Cup, and this one won’t go down in the books. Simply overplayed for most of the match, she lacked some depth on her shots and her shoulder issues of the past few years were put forth when serving. Asked whether she feels frustrated about being far from her best level, she mentioned that she needs to ‘’work, and work a lot’’ with coach Nathalie Tauziat. The two remaining local hopes, Stéphanie Dubois and Eugenie Bouchard, will play their first matches tomorrow.

Other results

[Q] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) def (12) Flavia Pennetta 7-6 (5) 6-3

Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) def. Alison Riske (USA) 6-1 6-3
Klara Koukalova (CZE) def. Kiki Bertens 7-5 7-6 (5)
[Q] Shelby Rogers (USA) def. [WC] Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO) 6-4 7-6 (5)
Alize Cornet (FRA) def. Lauren Davis (USA) 6-3 7-5
[Q] Heather Watson (GBR) def. [Q] Tereza Smitkova (CZE) 6-4 5-7 6-4
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) def. Roberta Vinci (ITA) 7-5 7-5

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Taking a Look on the Montreal Draw

 

Montreal Rogers Cup: Draw Analysis

Eugenie Bouchard (r) and Aleksandra Wozniak (l)

Eugenie Bouchard (r) and Aleksandra Wozniak (l)

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin and Maxime Labrecque | August 3, 2014

MONTREAL – The Rogers Cup in Montreal will start on Monday with part of the first round matches. Here is an analysis of each section of the draw, and our picks as to who will emerge.

1st Quarter

The first quarter is surely the strongest and is headlined by defending champion and top-ranked Serena Williams. Despite a very disappointing year in the Slams, the American is holding on strong to her No.1 ranking, but has an impressive streak of wins to defend. Her draw isn’t too kind, as she may start against Samantha Stosur, who, despite some poor recent results, always is a threat. Serena isn’t the only one in her section with points to defend: Sorana Cirstea, last year’s surprising finalist, starts up against Wimbledon semifinalist and 15th seed Safarova; a loss here would push her out of the top 70. The winner of that match should face Serena in the third round.

Eugenie ‘Genie’ Bouchard is coming to Montreal as the obvious crowd-favorite; she is the talk of the town and all eyes will be on her. A wildcard last year, she is now ranked 7th the world, seeded 5th and has won more Grand Slam matches than anyone in 2014. While this pressure might be overwhelming for a lot of players, Genie thrives in these conditions and will want to impress her countrymen. Her third round opponent should be 11th seed Caroline Wozniacki, who is finding some form in the past few weeks. A former champion in Montreal and now 100% focused on tennis, she will be looking to make a big move on the top players and the Rogers Cup could be the first step to a comeback to the top ranks.

Our picks:

CD and Max: Wozniacki def. Serena

2nd Quarter

Maria Sharapova is playing her first event after Wimbledon, and she seems determined to make it good. Despite being scheduled to play her first match on Wednesday, the fourth seed arrived in Montreal on Thursday night and was seen practicing intensely with coach Sven Groeneveld all weekend. Her second round opponent could be rising star Muguruza, who barely upset the Russian at the French Open. The hard-hitting Spaniard will try to knock Maria off her game and have her on the run, where she may not be as comfortable. The winner of that one should sail to the quarters.

Angelique Kerber is often forgotten, but the German has been consistently reaching the latter stages of tournaments for over two years. Her road to the quarters could be tricky with young Garcia and then either Venus Williams, Pavlyuchenkova or Pennetta. All eyes will be on the American, who will be coming to Montreal for the first time of her career. Astonishingly, Venus Williams has never won a match at the Rogers Cup, going 0-4 in Toronto, and her first round clash with Pavlyuchenkova could be a good one. If consistency prevails, Kerber should reach the quarters and aim to repeat her Wimbledon upset over Sharapova.

Our picks:

CD and Max: Sharapova def. Kerber

3rd Quarter:

The third quarter is the most unpredictable of all: Agnieszka Radwanska is the top seed of the section, but she lost last week in her first match to Lepchenko and is prone to upsets lately. She should win her opener, but will struggle against the winner of the Errani/Lisicki/Kuznetsova/Keys portion, which is by far the most intriguing. It’s anyone’s bet as to who will come out of the section.

Viktoria Azarenka, who missed most of 2014, squeaked in the first 8 seeds and could find her form back by fighting through her draw. Her second round opponent should be Cornet, who has had a solid year but isn’t at her best on faster hardcourts. Then awaits Cibulkova, who despite a fantastic start of the year, has been struggling to back up her wins. Hardcourts are Vika’s bread and butter, and she has a good record at the Rogers Cup; expect her to make some noise here.

Our picks:

CD: Azarenka def. Kuznetsova

Max: Radwanska def. Cornet

4th Quarter:

Petra Kvitova is just out of her honeymoon after her second Wimbledon crown and she will be aiming at keeping her winning streak alive in Montreal. Usually not the most comfortable during the North American summer, the second seed did win the title here two years ago and should be full of confidence. Her draw is tricky, with doubles partner Flipkens possibly in round 2, then Makarova or Petkovic in the third round. She has a losing record to both Flipkens and Petkovic, so her presence late in the tournament is nothing but safe.

Jelena Jankovic rounds up the fourth section as the 7th seed and is looking to win her first match since the French Open in May. Her opening match should be against either Sloane Stephens or local favorite Aleksandra Wozniak, who will be facing off in a marquee match on Monday night. In the third round should await Ana Ivanovic, who barely upset Serena Williams last week in Stanford and has what seems like two easy first matches. Ivanovic, with a 9-3 lead over Jankovic, will be a heavy favorite to reach the quarterfinals.

Our picks:

CD: Ivanovic def. Kvitova

Max: Petkovic def. Ivanovic

Stay tuned for daily updates from the Tennis Panorama News in Montreal all week. Follow instant updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Montreal Recap – A Tournament Filled With Emotions

Nadal 88

By Dominique Cambron-Goulet

(August 11, 2013) MONTREAL – The last week was full of emotions at Montreal ATP Masters 1000. The great performances of Canadians Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic made of this year’s tournament one of the most memorable here in Montreal.

The final might not have been as exciting as the semifinals tennis-wise, it will be remembered for sure by both players. “It’s always special for me to play in Montreal, because I won my first tournament on hard here in 2005”, said Rafael Nadal right after the match.

Raonic will also remember what he qualified as a “stepping stone” of his young career. “The standing ovation I received when I entered the court was the best moment of my career”, he said with a trembling tone in news conference. It’s also with the runner-up points that he’ll become the first Canadian to ever figure in the singles top-10.

The fans, will never forget the emotions provided by the matches of six Canadians in the main draw, the Andy Murray’s upset on his first appearance after Wimbledon and the two third set tiebreakers semifinals, including an all-Canadian one.

The 2013 Montreal Masters had lots of world premieres, upsets and crowned a winner that wasn’t expected at the beginning of the American hard court season. We’ll see if Cincinnati and the US Open will bring us their share of records and milestones as well.

Some Milestsones

–          John Isner’s loss against Vasek Pospisil knocked the Americans out of the top-20 for the first in history of rankings.

–          Due to his presence in final, Milos Raonic is the first Canadian to get in the top-10 in history of rankings.

–          Vasek Pospisil climbed up 31 ranks with his presence in semifinal to reach 40th place.

–          Rafael Nadal wins four Masters in a year for the second time of his career. He has three tournaments left to even Novak Djokovic’s record of five titles in a year.

“To win here, I have to be playing my top level. Very happy the way that I played almost every match in this tournament,” Nadal said. “Is very important for me, this title. Just very happy for everything.”

“I feel I have an advantage, but not enough to say that I am the favorite, Nadal said of his his lead in the ATP race for the year-end top ranking. “On this kind of surface, Novak is really good. [There] remains three Masters 1000s, one Grand Slam, [Barclays ATP World Tour Finals] – more favorable surfaces for him than for me. So we are talking about 6,500 points.

“We have to realize how many points I have to win to be No. 1. I think I will not be No. 1 if I have less than 10,000 points at the end of the season. Today I have 8,000. I need to win minimum 2,000 more. That’s very difficult in this part of the season, but I’m going to try.”

Dominique Cambron-Goulet has been teaching tennis for ten years and is now a journalist in Montreal.

Photos by Marc-André Gauthier

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Serena Williams Routs Sorana Cirstea for Toronto Title

 

Final Conference 015

By Brodie Elgin

(August 11, 2013) TORONTO – Another year, another title in Toronto for Serena Williams at the Rogers Cup. In 2011, it was an emotional return from injury for Williams as she needed six matches to take the title as an unseeded player, eventually defeating Samantha Stosur in the final. This year, a title run looked imminent as the 31 year-old American did not drop a set all tournament and eventually defeated Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-0 in Sunday’s final.

 

“No tournament is ever easy, especially being in the position I am in. The tournament starts and they expect you to win,” said Williams. “Even though I won Sweden, I was not happy with the way I played. So I went home and was working with my dad a lot and just going back to the basics.” Williams won her second Roland Garros title this year and despite playing so well this week, admitted the big moments can still get to her. “I had butterflies today. I will have butterflies at the Open. Hopefully I will have seven singles matches at the Open.”

 

Williams clearly enjoys playing in Toronto, having lost just two sets in her past 11 matches in the city. “Drake came out today. We are really good friends. We have always been good friends.”

Final Conference 005

For the 23 year-old Romanian, it has been a career week. Cirstea saved two match points, defeated two former number 1s as well as defeating two former champions. While Sorana was tearful after the match, they may have been more tears of joy than disappointment, as she thanked her coaches, Victor Ionita and Darren Cahill for their help as well as the support from the fans, saying Toronto was her new favorite tournament. “I usually I am quite emotional, but of course I was a little bit disappointed. I think even if I would have won I would have been crying,” laughed Cirstea after the match. “I didn’t expect to be that emotional, but that’s me.” “I’m looking forward to coming back here, because it’s been an amazing week.” Cirstea will reach a career high rank of 21 on Monday morning.

 

Despite the fact that Williams will be the top seed at Flushing Meadows and is the prime favorite to win her fifth US Open title, the American says there is still work to be done and there are always things to improve on. “For me, it’s always about constantly improving and never saying I did great and I can be satisfied. For me, it’s like I did great but what can I do better? What can I improve on? That’s what I always strive for.”

 

Both finalists will now travel to Cincinnati for the Western & Southern Open. Serena Williams is the top seed and will play a qualifier in her opening match, and Sorana Cirstea will play Washington doubles partner Yanina Wickmayer, with a win potentially setting up a rematch from earlier in the week against Caroline Wozniacki in the second round.

 

Brodie Elgin is the writer of mindtheracket.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @MindTheRacket. He was covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News.

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Perfect Scenario for Rogers Cup Final Weekend in Montreal

Nadal wins

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin

(August 10, 2013) MONTREAL – The Montreal fans are particularly fond of two things, tennis-wise: big charismatic stars exuding passion and local players battling it out like there is no tomorrow. Therefore, no one could have set up a better scenario than the semifinals played in Montreal on Saturday. And the matches delivered, both ending in third set tie-breaks.

While the Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic showdown wasn’t a surprise and was actually expected and hoped for when the draw came out, the Milos Raonic-Vasek Pospisil match revived the patriotic flame of many: it was the first time since 1969 that a Canadian reached this stage and the winner would be the first Canadian finalist since 1958!

The two Davis Cup teammates were the first to hit the court in the afternoon, under perfect weather for tennis: sunny, breezy and a touch chilly. The atmosphere was just as perfect, with a packed crowd of over 12,000 anxious fans, hesitant about for whom to cheer for as if they were asked to choose between their (tennis) children.

Milos Raonic was the favorite on paper, but was also the one with all the pressure and it showed in his on-court manners: while he was stone-faced and focused, Pospisil was vocal and animated and clearly had nothing to lose in this encounter.

As it often happens when two players that know each other well face off, the level of play wasn’t spectacular. Both players seemed nervous from the get-go, and most points were decided either on unreturned serves or unforced errors. Raonic was the first one to draw blood and break, and he rode the way until finishing up the forgettable 6-4 set on an ace.

Raonic 88

The second set followed a totally different route: Pospisil started receiving better and being more aggressive, and Raonic seemed lost in his defensive role. While the underdog was getting pumped up, the 11th seed seemed frustrated and about to give up the set. Breaking twice, Pospisil leveled things off, wining the second set 6-1.

Raonic then retreated to the locker rooms, in the hopes of breaking the rhythm and changing the momentum. He later admitted in his post-match interview that he ‘yelled at [himself] to let the anger out, but not too loud as there was someone else in the bathroom’.

The third set saw some better play and built up quite the drama. While Pospisil got closer in more of Raonic’s serve game, the favorite never got broken and led in the score all set, as he was serving first. Vasek was solid serving under pressure, bringing the set to a tiebreak. Raonic stormed to an early lead with two mini-breaks, but Pospisil immediately erased them with inspired play. Clearly nervous, the serve speeds started dropping, especially on Raonic’s side, but he remained more solid off the ground and closed out the set, reaching his first ever Masters 1000 final and entering the top 10 for the first time of his career. He becomes the first ever Canadian male player to achieve that feat, a fact that made him quite emotional after the match.

His final opponent was also decided in a nail-biter under the lights. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had played 35 times in the past, and their match-up always leads to spectacular rallies and intense battles. While Nadal was coming into this match undefeated on hardcourts in 2013, Djokovic had won all their encounters on this surface since 2010.

Nadal stormed off to a two break lead, as his consistency was too much for the Serb. Djokovic started finding his range late in the set, erasing one of the breaks, but it was too little too late as the 4th seed won the first 6-4.

The second set started with close games and intense rallies, and the drama peaked with an umpiring mistake. With Djokovic serving at 5-3, when Nadal challenged a call and was right, the score was announced wrong. While both players and the umpire agreed that it was 30-all, the scoreboard mentioned 40-15, and the crowd was raucous towards the mistake. The chair umpire, remaining silent, lost control over the crowd, which seemed to affect Djokovic who lost the following (very important) point. But when he saved it and then leveled off the match, we knew we would be treated to a dramatic third set.

Following a similar pattern than the first semifinal, both players, who had been broken two times each until then, managed to hold until a third set tiebreak. The stand-out moment happened in the middle of the set when Nadal hit a backhand pass directly at Novak in a heated net exchange: when the Spaniard tried to apologize, Novak looked away in frustration, adding to the already high tension.

The tiebreak proved to be quite an anticlimactic end to a fantastic match. Despite losing the last game to love, the Spaniard played inspired tennis, enjoyed a few loose points from the first seed, and rapidly built a huge 6-0 lead. While Djokovic saved the first two on impressive winners, he hit a ball just long on the third match point, handing Nadal his 21st win against the Serb.

Nadal will be looking to win his third Rogers Cup in Sunday’s final against Raonic. The crowd is expected to be strongly behind the Canadian, especially as, for the first time, fans will be able to get in the Uniprix Stadium grounds to watch the final on a big-screen, Henman Hill-style. It will be a fitting end to one of the best ever editions of the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Charles David Mathieu-Poulin blogs for WtaQuebec www.wtaquebec.com, a website promoting local Quebec players. He is covering the Rogers Cup in Montreal for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @earthstroke, follow his Montreal coverage on @TennnisNewsTPN.
RESULTS – SATURDAY, 10 AUGUST 2013

Singles – Semi-finals
[4] R Nadal (ESP) d [1] N Djokovic (SRB) 64 36 76(2)
[11] M Raonic (CAN) d [WC] V Pospisil (CAN) 64 16 76(4)

Doubles – Semi-finals
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) 62 76(3)
C Fleming (GBR) / A Murray (GBR) d [6] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) 63 60

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 11 AUGUST 2013

CENTRAL start 12:30
C Fleming (GBR) / A Murray (GBR) vs [3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)

Not Before 15:00
[4] R Nadal (ESP) vs [11] M Raonic (CAN)

 

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Serena Williams Pushes Past Radwanska to Advance to Toronto Final

SerenaWilliams MadridOpen5-7-12

By Brodie Elgin

(August 10, 2013) TORONTO – It is often said that athletes do not practice for when they play their best, but for when they play their worst. From very early on in their semifinal, it was clear Serena Williams did not have her best game. Serena had a clear plan to push Agnieszka Radwanska out wide while serving and attack the open space. However, she looked slow at times and missed several forehands to put points away.

After taking the first set in a tiebreak, Williams called for the trainer in what was officially announced as “gastro intestinal issues”.

“I just had some stomach problems. I’m fine,” said Williams. These problems may have contributed to Serena’s sometimes sporadic game that alternated between extreme aggression and surprisingly passive patterns of play. Williams eventually let her emotions get the better of her as she ended up screaming at no one in particular. “I was just a little frustrated with myself, I think, as well as I don’t think I was playing
as aggressive as I needed to play.”

Serena Williams Presser Saturday 011-001
This made for incredibly long rallies at times, typically ending with one player pushing another side to side and attempting to finish it at the net. “I think here the courts are not that fast and the balls also not that fast. That’s why we could play a lot of long rallies and long games,” said Radwanska.

Ultimately, Radwanska would drop her one break lead in the second set, as Williams did find a way to be more aggressive and largely over power her opponent, particularly with strong returning. The American broke to end the match, taking it 7-6(3), 6-4. Having won the 2011 Rogers Cup as an unseeded player, Williams has now won her last 10 matches in Toronto, and has yet to lose a set in this year’s edition of the tournament. “I love playing here. I have a lot of friends that always come out. It’s always like you really want them to keep coming, so it’s a good time.”

Her opponent in Sunday’s final will be Sorana Cirstea, a player she defeated handily in Roland Garros earlier this year, but has had a career week in Toronto. “Last few months she has been really consistent,” said the world No. 1. “She is just a player who has finally found herself, and she’s playing better and better and getting more confident. It’s going to be a really tough match.”

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.

ROGERS CUP
Toronto, Canada
August 5-11, 2013
$2,369,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Saturday, August 10, 2013
Singles – Semifinals
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 76(3) 64
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. (4) Li Na (CHN) 61 76(5)

Doubles – Semifinals
(3) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) d. (2) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) 62 64
Jankovic/Srebotnik (SRB/SLO) d. (WC) Dabrowski/Fichman (CAN/CAN) 75 63

Order Of Play – Sunday, August 11, 2013
Centre Court (NB 13.00hrs)

1. Singles Final: Serena Williams vs. Sorana Cirstea
2. Doubles Final: Jankovic/Srebotnik vs. Groenefeld/Peschke

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