2014/07/24

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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Sorana Cirstea Stuns Li Na to Reach Toronto Final

Sorana Presser Again 007-001

By Brodie Elgin

(August 10, 2013) TORONTO – Having already defeated two former world number ones and the 2012 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the task would not get any easier for Sorana Cirstea in the semifinals as she would be forced to take on 2012 Roland Garros champion and defending Rogers Cup finalist Li Na.

 

“Everyone knows that I start a little bit slow,” Cirstea said on Thursday. “I think if you looked at the matches from last year, I’m sure I had even more rounds where I came from a set behind. But this year I’ve been trying to change a little bit, and for me to actually start better from the beginning and try to get ahead.” While the Romanian dropped the first set to Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova, she had no trouble starting against Li Na in their semifinal match in Toronto Saturday afternoon.

 

Cirstea quickly found ways to punch weak responses into the corners for winners and was dominating on serve, dropping just four points and not facing a break point all set. Li, on the other hand, struggled to find a rhythm early. She was particularly bothered by shots in the middle of the court, where she often failed to set her feet in time, or fired wide as she tried to create angles on her forehand. “I think today she was [playing] a little bit different. Today she was play sometime like topspin. Sometimes I was feeling she couldn’t hit a winner, but the ball [would come back] as a winner,” Li said smiling. “She’s got a lot of confidence right now.”

 

In a blistering 21 minutes, Cirstea took the first set 6-1. “I would have said I am a slow starter, but as I have proved this week, things are changing,” said a smiling Cirstea after the match.

 

Both players called down their coaches. Li Na admitted she didn’t exactly take much of her husband’s advice. “I offer him to come to the court. I never listen [to] what he says,” she joked. “Like, left in, right out, you know.” She also confirmed coach Carlos Rodriguez would be joining her in Cincinnati.

 

Unsurprisingly, the streaky Li raised her game and managed to reach deuce on her first return game. Eventually serving for the second set at 5-3, Li was broken twice and was forced to try to break Cirstea, who served for the match at 6-5. After blowing two match points and being broken, it would have been easy for the Romanian to get down on herself. “Once I lost that game, I was fine. I was like, “okay, let’s try and get this tiebreak.”” She fought back in the tiebreak from a 1-4 deficit, and eventually won on her third match point via a Li double fault, taking the match and advancing to the final 6-1, 7-6(5). “I think that’s another big change for me, because maybe before I would get down on myself.”

 

Despite being ranked in the top 30 for some time, this is just Cirstea’s third career WTA final and her first since winning the now defunct 2008 Tashkent Open. Cirstea acknowledged that she wouldn’t be thinking about the final today, but her smile indicated she might feel a few nerves Sunday morning. “I’m still trying to enjoy this victory, because it’s a good one for me. When I’m going to wake up tomorrow, I’m going to start worrying about the final.”

 

Regardless of Sunday’s result, this is surely the greatest week of Cirstea‘s career. “This is probably the biggest tournament so far, but I think it’s the start of something good. Everything is based on hard work. Everyone can see that I have been doing some great steps in the right direction.” Cirstea continued to give glowing credit to both of her coaches, particularly Darren Cahill’s inspiring pep talks. “I have been working with Darren for six years, and I was the first girl that he ever coached coming into the Adidas player development team. He’s amazing. Both of these victories are his in a way.”

 

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.

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Radwanska and Li Na Gain Toronto Semis

AgniezskaRadwanskaFaceoff2wearingraptorsshirt

By Brodie Elgin

(August 9, 2013) TORONTO – At 2-2 in the first set, Sara Errani winced. This wasn’t the first time she had played Agnieszka Radwanska. Last year the two battled to an eventual Radwanska victory in Istanbul at the Year End Championships, a match which lasted a staggering 3 hours and 29 minutes. She knew she was in for a strange match. As the sun beat down, the breaks came from all imaginable scenarios; great volleys at the net, bad errors, and winners after grueling points.”  I think we were playing a bit similar tennis.  That’s why a lot of running, a lot of long rallies, and that’s why I think our matches are always very long,” said Radwanska, prior to facing Errani.

 

With both players trading service holds to start the match, Radwanska and Errrani traded a nearly unbelievable 11 straight breaks before Radwanska finally held found herself up a commanding 7-6(1), 2-0 lead.

 

With neither player creating much pace, both players needed to find new ways to finish points or move players around. Errani was at her most effective when able to hit her forehand up the line or find extreme angles to spin the forehand cross court. However, Radwanska did an excellent job of trying to keep the ball to Errani’s backhand, particularly on her return, and getting to net to finish points when possible.

 

Unsurprisingly, the break lead didn’t last long and Errani and Rawanska battled to an even 5-5. With a couple of Errani errors, Radwanska broke yet again and finally put together a straight forward hold with four impressive winners, taking the match 7-6(1), 7-5 and advancing to the semifinals. She awaits Serena Williams.

 10062012 China Open Li Na in press 2

In the second semifinal of the day, Li Na had a straight forward win over Dominika Cibulkova, in 1 hour and 36 minutes. A streaky first set meant both players held and broke service three times each. But it was Li who would effectively raise her game in the tiebreak to win it 7-6(1).

 

 

Li insisted she wanted to continue to stick to her guns in the second set, and felt she was playing well. “I was thinking about, okay, one set.  Second set you should just continue to do what you should do.  You don’t have to be looking at what the opponent do.” From then on it was smooth sailing against Cibulkova, who recently won Stanford and is playing in her third straight week. Li saved both break points she faced in the second set and served at a cool 75% to take it easily, 6-2.

 

“I haven’t lost to her, but every time is tough.  I mean, never has [there been an] easy one,” said Li. “She was running pretty fast on the court, and she can hit everywhere on the court. So I have to ready for every second; otherwise I will lose the point.”

 

Li will take on Sorana Cirstea in the semifinals on Saturday. Li leads the head to head 5-1, including winning their two most recent matches, both on hard courts.

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.

 

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All-Canadian Semifinal in Montreal

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

By Dominique Cambron-Goulet

(August 9, 2013) MONTREAL – Friday afternoon featured two Canadian blockbusters at Montreal ATP Maters 1000. Vasek Pospisil [W] was lucky in the first match of the day as former top-3 Nikolay Davydenko retired after losing the first three games of the match, due to bronchitis symptoms. In the second quarterfinal, Ernests Gulbis was unable to complete the comeback in a big-servers fight against Milos Raonic [11] 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4.

The first set was a server’s duel. No break points were given until the last game of the set. Raonic saved both of them to force Gulbis into the tiebreak. The Canadian was really strong in the ultimate game and took advantage of Gulbis’ errors to lead 4-0. The Latvian got frustrated and broke his racquet. That gave the mental upper hand to the 13th ranked player, who would conclude the set with a second-serve ace 7-6 (3).

Gulbis bounced back in the second stretch. He opened up with a break on one of Raonic’s 8 double-faults. The 38th ranked player gave no opportunities to his opponent while serving. Raonic only won three points on returns in the first nine games. Although Ernests Gulbis had some problems serving for the set with two double-faults, he saved two break points to take away the second set 6-4.

The third set was a mental challenge for both players. Starting with a really long first game with five deuces, Raonic was able to hold his serve. In the fourth game, the crowd and a missed challenge disturbed Gulbis. He double-faulted four times to literally give the lead 3-1 to the Canadian. “It’s okay people are rough, they’re used to hockey here, joked Gulbis after the match. But, honestly, I don’t understand why people need to clap for a double‑fault. I think it’s stupid.”

However, the Latvian came back right away, winning Raonic’s serve to love. In the last games, we could feel each point was mentally hard for the players. Raonic benefited of the advantage of serving first and was able to break in the tenth game to complete Canada’s dream tournament and lift the crowd. After the match, Raonic explained how he managed to keep his cool in crucial moments. “In important points I focused on taking a little bit more time. I’ve decided to focus in on the serve, knowing that’s the best way I can win points.”

Vasek Pospisil

Vasek Pospisil

The last Canadian reach the semi-finals in Montreal was Mike Belkin in 1969. It’s useless to say that two Canadians in semis, is far from the biggest expectations of Tennis Canada. The big question is: Who will get crowd’s support in this match? “I’m sure the crowd is gonna be pretty fair cheering for both of us, but if someone has more support I hope it’s me”,  joked Vasek Pospisil in press conference answering the question.

In four pro meetings (none ATP) between the two Canadians, Vasek Pospisil has a winning record of 3-1 against Milos Raonic. All the matches occurred in ‘09 and ‘10 and Raonic triumphed in the last one at Lexington Challenger in July 2010. They were ranked 311th (Pospisil) and 267th (Raonic) at that time.

Dominique Cambron-Goulet has been teaching tennis for ten years and is now a journalist in Montreal. Follow his reports  all week from Rogers Cup here and live on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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WTA Toronto and ATP Montreal – Thursday Results, Friday Schedule

ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Montreal, Canada  (-4 hours GMT)
5-11 August, 2013     Surface: Hard

RESULTS – THURSDAY, 8 AUGUST, 2013

Singles – Third Round
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) d D Istomin (UZB) 26 64 64
E Gulbis (LAT) d [2] A Murray (GBR) 64 63
[4] R Nadal (ESP) d [15] J Janowicz (POL) 76(6) 64
[WC] V Pospisil (CAN) d [5] T Berdych (CZE) 75 26 76(5)
[11] M Raonic (CAN) d [6] J Del Potro (ARG) 75 64
[7] R Gasquet (FRA) d [9] K Nishikori (JPN) 16 63 63
[Q] M Matosevic (AUS) d B Paire (FRA) 76(7) 67(10) 63
N Davydenko (RUS) d [Q] A Bogomolov Jr. (RUS) 64 63

Doubles – Second Round
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) d A Seppi (ITA) / M Youzhny (RUS) 63 64
[2] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) d G Dimitrov (BUL) / P Kohlschreiber (GER) 63 62
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d T Berdych (CZE) / M Llodra (FRA) 36 76(4) 10-6
C Fleming (GBR) / A Murray (GBR) d [4] L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) 63 63
[5] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) d P Andujar (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP) walkover
[6] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) d D Inglot (GBR) / J Janowicz (POL) 63 64
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) d [8] M Mirnyi (BLR) / H Tecau (ROU) 62 46 12-10
SCHEDULE – FRIDAY, 9 AUGUST, 2013

CENTRAL start 12:00
[WC] V Pospisil (CAN) vs N Davydenko (RUS)

Not Before 14:00

[11] M Raonic (CAN) vs E Gulbis (LAT)

Not Before 18:00
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs [7] R Gasquet (FRA)

Not Before 20:00
[4] R Nadal (ESP) vs [Q] M Matosevic (AUS)

BN COURT start 14:00
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs [2] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP)
[7] I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA) vs [3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)
C Fleming (GBR) / A Murray (GBR) vs [5] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED)

Not Before 19:00
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs [6] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN)

 

 

ROGERS CUP
Toronto, Canada

August 5-11, 2013
$2,369,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results - Thursday, August 8, 2013
Singles – Third Round
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (13) Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 60 63
(3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. (14) Sloane Stephens (USA) 61 76(2)
(4) Li Na (CHN) d. (16) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 36 61 76(5)
(5) Sara Errani (ITA) d. Alizé Cornet (FRA) 75 76(3)
(6) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (12) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 63 63
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. (7/WC) Marion Bartoli (FRA) 76(5) 10 ret. (abdominal injury)
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. (10) Roberta Vinci (ITA) 63 76(4)
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. (15) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) 63 64

Doubles – Quarterfinals
(2) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) d. Kalashnikova/Rosolska (GEO/POL) 64 62

Doubles – Second Round
Jankovic/Srebotnik (SRB/SLO) d. (6) Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) 64 61
Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova (GER/CZE) d. (WC) Hantuchova/Hingis (SVK/SUI) 62 64
(WC) Dabrowski/Fichman (CAN/CAN) d. Klemenschits/Savchuk (AUT/UKR) 67(4) 64 105 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Friday, August 9, 2013
Centre Court (from 11.00am)
1. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Sara Errani
2. Dominika Cibulkova vs. Li Na (NB 13.00hrs)
3. Petra Kvitova vs. Sorana Cirstea (NB 15.00hrs)
4. Serena Williams vs. Magdalena Rybarikova (NB 19.00hrs)

Grandstand (from 13.30am)
1. Kops-Jones/Spears vs. Jankovic/Srebotnik
2. Errani/Vinci vs. Dabrowski/Fichman (after suitable rest)
3. Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova vs. Groenefeld/Peschke (NB 16.00hrs)

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Breaks Rule the Thursday Night Session in Montreal

88 Raonic

Milos Raonic

By Dominique Cambron-Goulet

(August 8, 2013) MONTREAL – Twenty-nine breaks in four matches. That’s how returners excelled in third round night session of Montreal ATP Masters 1000. Sometimes because of injuries, sometimes because of amazing defensive play, it was all break points on Thursday night. Returners were 29/65 for an average of 45% in crucial points. Here’s a recap game by game.

Canadian Milos Raonic [11] once again took the energy from the crowd and defeated Juan Martin Del Potro [6] in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Raonic called for medical treatments early in the first set due to an inflamed muscle in his neck. He came back fresh and broke Del Potro to lead 2-1. Del Potro would come back but Raonic broke him again to win the set 7-5.

88 Del Potro 3

Both players were not performing at their best. The Argentinean looked like he had a back problem. He had trouble serving more than 190 kph on his first serve. On the other side of the net, Raonic still had a little neck pain and hasn’t served at his best since the beginning of the week.

These serve problems resulted in five breaks in the second set. The last two going to the Canadian as Del Potro was disturbed mentally by a couple of close calls and overturned decisions by the chair umpire, notably when at 4-3, with Del Potro up a break in the second set when Raonic foot touched the net as the end of a point. Del Potro complained to the umpire to no avail.

 

Meanwhile on BN court, a Russian duel was taking place. Former top-10 Nikolay Davydenko came back in both sets to defeat Alex Bogomolov Jr. (who eliminated David Ferrer [3] the night before) 6-4, 6-3.

Bogomolov Jr. had mental breaks in both sets. Up 4-2 in the first set he couldn’t buy a game from that point on. The story was the same in the second set as he was up again 3-0. None of the players saved a break point in that set.

 

A big seeds clash was scheduled afterwards. Kei Nishikori [9] and Richard Gasquet [7] faced  off in a fierce match. The Frenchman came back after an atrocious first set to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

This match at almost two hours, featured a lot of long rallies and great defensive play from both players. Kei Nishikori pushed Gasquet often to the limit, but won only three of his eleven break points during the match.

Istomin 88

Denis Istomin caused an upset in the first round, defeating Janko Tipsarevic [16] in two sets. But with the injuries the Serbian had and his unconvincing win against Filip Peliwo in the second round, everyone thought that it would be an easy night for Novak Djokovic. However, the 66th ranked Uzbekistan player wasn’t seeing it this was has he played one of his best matches ever.

Istomin would attack everything while relying on a great serve to take away the first set by two breaks 6-2. He also started the second stretch well but as it always is against Djokovic, it was hard to keep up that pace. The No. 1 player in the world served well, giving Istomin no break points chances in the set, and kept his early break to win 6-4.

88 Djokovic 2

Djokovic was really dominating the third set as Istomin looked tired on return games. The Serbian would complete the comeback with a similar set 6-4 even if the crowd were rooting for the underdog until the end. Crowd even cheered for him as he left the court. But you can’t blame them. Istomin played the match of his life even though he lost.

 

Quarterfinals preview

 

Last time I was in Montreal for the Masters, in 2009, the top-8 players of the world were facing each other in the quarterfinals. 2013’s tournament is totally different with all those seeds out since the beginning of the tournament (especially in the lower half of the draw) and no big clashes are scheduled on Friday.

Nikolay Davydenko will face Cinderella (Vasek) Pospisil in another match where the crows will have strong emotions.

Milos Raonic [11], only seed left in the lower half, will face Ernest Gulbis who’s strong from his win against Andy Murray. Injury might be a factor in this match for the Canadian. However, the crowd will be cheering loudly for the local player as everyone is hoping for an all-Canadian semifinal here in Montreal.

Rafael Nadal [4] will face qualifier Marinko Matosevic. “He’s on streak, he could be dangerous”, admitted Nadal in a news conference Thursday. But for sure, Nadal, whose health has been an issue this year, is probably happy to have a less dangerous player on his way to the semifinal.

The last matchup seems more promising with a clash between Novak Djokovic and Richard Gasquet. Although the Frenchman is inconsistent, everyone knows he can pull out and important match from time to time and beat the best of the world.

Dominique Cambron-Goulet has been teaching tennis for ten years and is now a journalist in Montreal. Follow his reports  all week from Rogers Cup here and live on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Sorana Cirstea: Focused on Improvement and Full of Belief

Cirstea Press

By Brodie Elgin

(August 8, 2013) TORONTO – When people refer to the “power game” in women’s tennis today, they often base it off of their experience with women’s tennis in the 1990s or the serve and volley days of the 1980s and prior. Not only are the racquet technologies of today different, but players are more fit and strong, and most women play their games from the baseline. It has been a gradual upward correlation between big hitting and big success.

 

While some of the top players in the game, Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Maria Sharapova hit the ball with incredible pace, ripping the cover off the ball isn’t an exclusively top 5 trait. Sorana Cirstea is known for her big ground strokes. Her blistering forehand is even more impressive courtside, so much so that it often leaves fans unfamiliar with her oohing and aahing at the sight of her first few big shots.

 

Back on her beloved hard courts for the first time since Miami, Cirstea made an impressive run to the Stanford semifinals and then lost in her quarterfinal match in Washington before heading to Toronto. Her impressive form from Stanford has continued in Toronto as she won two of the biggest matches of her season, defeating two former world number ones Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic in under 24 hours to reach the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.

 

After saving two match points against Wozniacki, Cirstea reeled off 15 straight points, including the second set tiebreak to love. “I kind of started to take charge, you know, and be in control of the points.” She looked primed to control the third set with chances to hold and consolidate a break to take a 1-4 lead. However, she was eventually broken and quickly found herself locked at 3-3. Instead of letting frustrations boil over, she took a walk to the backboard, put her hands on her hips and gave herself a talking to. It worked, and holding twice she eventually broke Wozniacki to love as the Dane served at 4-5, and Cirstea took the match 5-7, 7-6(0), 6-4. “I’m proud of the fact that from the first moment until the last moment that I had the belief in me.  I feel I earned that victory.  I fought very hard for it.”

Sorana Cirstea

Eventually getting back to the hotel early Thursday morning at 1:30am, Cirstea was faced with the difficult task of taking on Jelena Jankovic, a short 16 hours later. She frustrated Jankovic by going for big winners when the time arrived, and the Serbian failed to effectively counterpunch Cirstea’s overwhelming power. Jankovic became particularly frustrated in the second set, and Cirstea moved on into the quarterfinals, winning 6-3, 6-4. “I think I made a huge step forward today by backing up the win from yesterday, because I think this was one of the issues in the past.  I would have a good win but then couldn’t really back it up.”

After Wimbledon, Cirstea spent two weeks in Las Vegas with the Adidas Player Development Program including Steffi Graf and her husband Andre Agassi, as well as his long time fitness coach Gil Reyes. The fitness training appears to have helped.” I actually woke up, and I was very surprised nothing was hurting, nothing was sore,” Cirstea said about the morning after her Wednesday night marathon match, “so I was like, “oh, this is a new feeling.” The fact that after playing three hours yesterday, today I was actually fine, and I knew Jelena is a tough player and she’s going to make me run a lot.  I was like, Okay, I have no problem.  That’s why I’m here, no?”

 

Sorana Cirstea and Ana Ivanovic at 2012 BNP Paribas Open Players Party

Sorana Cirstea and Ana Ivanovic at 2012 BNP Paribas Open Players Party

The opportunity to hit with Steffi Graf was not just a fun opportunity, but somewhat of a daunting one as well. “I started tennis because of Steffi Graf, so of course the first time I met her I couldn’t even talk that’s how nervous I was. Even now, every time she comes I’m so nervous,” Sorana laughed. “Every time Steffi comes in, the rhythm that she plays [with], so 45 minutes with her feels like an hour and a half. She’s so professional, still so fit, even now. She’s my idol, and my biggest example. I think I’m quite lucky to interact with them and learn.”

 

While hitting big has never been a problem for the Romanian, Cirstea is hoping to take her game to the next level through improved fitness and mental maturity on court. This is already the ninth time she has won this year after dropping the first set. “Everyone knows that I start a little bit slow. This year I’ve been trying to change a little bit of things, and for me to actually start better from the beginning, and try to get ahead. But right now, I never lose my belief. If you’re better than me, you have to beat me.” The Romanian has looked particularly composed on court this week, with few outbursts towards her coaches, and often catching herself to walk to the back board and tap her racquet on it as a mental reminder to stay focused.

 

While big hitting players can often gain a lot of hype as potential top 10 players, Cirstea insisted she’s more focused on improving the parts of her game that she wants to work on than focusing on a specific ranking number goal. “I’m enjoying more, and I’m learning more things about myself.  I think I grew up and matured along the way.  I have been through great times, tough times, and I’m happy that I had all those, because they helped me be stronger and just be a better person and also athlete.”

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.

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