2014/10/31

Tsonga Tops Federer for Toronto Title

(August 10, 2014) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became the first Frenchman to win the Rogers Cup, defeating No. 2 seed Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6 (3) taking down his fourth straight top 10 opponent.

He beat No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Thursday, No. 8 Andy Murray in the quarterfinals and No. 7 seed Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals. This marks the first time that a player has defeated four top 10 players in a row in Canada since 2002.

For the Frenchman it was his first ATP World Tour title win of the year and 11th overall. Tsonga is now 5-11 versus the Swiss.

In the first set both men held serve through the first 11 games. With Federer serving in the 12th game, fell behind and faced his fist break point in the match. The world No. 3 hit a forehand long to give Tsonga the set.

In the second set, Tsonga kept his opponent at bay – he missed out on break point chances in the sixth game and in the eighth game. Federer saved a match point in the tenth game and both men held to force a tiebreak.

Tsonga took the mini-break advantage at 4-3 and closed out the match by winning the next three points.

“I think it was the overall day conditions that were tough for me,” Federer said. “It was faster than in the night, all my previous matches, so I think the turnaround was tough.

“I definitely think Jo served well, and when he does serve well it’s always going to be hard. But not to win more points on his first serve ‑‑ I don’t know the second serve stat, but I need to have a better impact on that normally.

“Today was just difficult in terms of rhythm from the baseline, so it was like a new tournament for me today.

“No excuses. I think he played really solid and well when he had to, and like you mentioned, I think he served well overall, which was key for him.”

“I don’t realize really what I achieved this week, but it’s a big achievement for me,” Tsonga said.

“It’s completely different than before when I won in Paris. In Paris it was the first one, you know, behind my family, all my friends, everybody. I think I did it with my hurt, you know, in Paris. Here I just did it with my level, with my game.

“I played well all this week. I beat many good guys. You know, it’s a big achievement because I worked really hard to come back from my knee injury last year.”

Asked about the pro-Federer crowd, Tsonga said: “When you play Roger, of course you are always the challenger for the people in the crowd, so some of them are for you because they want you to do a good performance, but most of them are for Roger because he’s the guy who did the most for tennis since a long time now, and he deserve it and that’s it.”

At No. 15, Tsonga is the first ATP Masters 1000 winner ranked outside the Top 10 since No. 26 Ivan Ljubicic won Indian Wells back in 2010 over Andy Roddick. Tsonga will move back into the top 10 when the rankings come out on Monday.

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Tsonga Moves into Toronto Final

By Dave Gertler

(August 9, 2014) TORONTO – No one’s been able to stop Jo-Wilfried Tsonga yet at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, and after an hour and 24 minutes of trying, neither could world No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov. The 13th seeded Frenchman now advances to his third career Masters 1000 final, after winning the Paris Indoors in 2008 and losing another final at home to Roger Federer in 2011.

 

After four grueling and lengthy three-set quarterfinals on Friday, a near-capacity crowd today – including a vocal contingent of Dimitrov supporters sporting Bulgarian flags – may have expected a closer battle between these two players known for their athleticism and shot-making. Instead, what they witnessed was a display of power from Tsonga, as he dictated on his serve, weathering down Dimitrov’s counterattack, ultimately breaking the world No.8 three times and saving all four break points he faced.

 

“I’m feeling good,” said Tsonga, who defeated world No.1 Novak Djokovic in the previous round, “You know, I’m waiting for this moment since a couple of years now.”

 

Tsonga was explosive on serve and forehand, delivering a total of 22 winners off both wings. Less than half of his first serves landed in, yet he only lost three points behind them in the first set, with a perfect 9 for 9 in the second set. With first serves averaging over 200km/h, it seemed even his faults were doing damage. Though his ace count was a modest 7, over half of the 23 points he won on his first serve were unreturnable by Dimitrov.

 

“He served good,” said Dimitrov, “I mean, not much else I could do. You have your chances. Today things were just not leaning on my side. You have a couple of chances. You couldn’t make the break.”

 

The four break points Dimitrov made Tsonga face came in the last game of the first set, after Tsonga had broken the 23-year-old for a 5-4 lead. In the longest game of the match, a nervous Tsonga would continually bail himself out of trouble with potent serving from the ad-court, clocking speeds between 217km/h and 226km/h to save four break points, and eventually confirm the set with a 219km/h service winner.

 

Dimitrov’s only reprieve from Tsonga’s attack would be a brief toilet break between sets. After Dimitrov held for 1-0 in the second set, Tsonga won 12 points in a row, breaking Dimitrov at 1-1, then making him face three break points at 0-40, 1-3.

 

With the support of the Bulgarian crowd, Dimitrov mustered enough free points on serve to prevent going down a double break. “Everywhere I turn,” said Dimitrov, “There was Bulgarian flags and support was amazing.”

He kept fighting, but a serving of free points and some vocal support from the crowd would not be enough to let Dimitrov back into a second set in which the Frenchman only lost two points on serve.

 

In fact, Tsonga won more points on Dimitrov’s serve in the second set than Dimitrov himself would win, ultimately breaking the world No.8 in the last game of the match, taking it 6-4, 6-3, and celebrating with a display of shadow-boxing, a departure from his trademark running jump-spin chest beating.

 

“When I win like this,” said Tsonga, “I show emotion because, you know, it’s not only on the court we work. It’s also outside. There is people around us to help us, and it’s always good to share with them.”

 

Tsonga is now hoping for an opportunity to play Roger Federer, who contests the other semifinal tonight against Feliciano Lopez, a player he has never lost to, to reach what will be his 37th Masters 1000 final.

 

“I would like to face Roger,” said Tsonga, who has had four career wins over Federer, a two-time Rogers Cup champion, “Just because it’s always an honor for me to play against him in such a good arena. Yeah, it can be one of the biggest victories for me if I am able to beat him.”

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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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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2014 Rogers Cup Toronto Photo Gallery

TORONTO –  Photographer Nida Alibhai snapped photos all around the grounds of the Rogers Cup this week, here is a gallery of her photos from the tournament so far.

Follow Nida Alibhai’s 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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After Win Over Djokovic, Tsonga Continues Form with Upset of Murray to Reach Toronto Semis

Tsonga Murray 8814

By Dave Gertler

 

(August 8, 2014) TORONTO – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is returning to the form that has previously delivered him to two semifinals at the Rogers Cup, and on Friday, he exacted revenge on the man who stopped him in his path when he first got there in 2009. After a surprising 6-2, 6-2 win over Novak Djokovic yesterday in Toronto, Tsonga has followed it up with his first win over Andy Murray since the Frenchman’s famous run to the final of the Australian Open in 2008.

 

Firing 17 aces at Murray throughout the match, including three in the first game, Tsonga let his serve do the talking from the outset. “I’m just stronger,” said the world No.15 after his victory, “During practice I worked a lot on my legs, and for sure I’m stronger on my legs. I think it helped me a lot for my serve because I can push a little bit more, so it give me more angle.” His increased leg-strength allowed Tsonga to maintain a first-service speed well above 200km/h throughout the two-hour, 18-minute match on Stadium Court.

 

Tsonga would only lose ten points in total behind his first serve the whole match, Murray realizing early that he would need to return at a high level, saying, “The beginning of the match he served extremely well. He served a lot of aces. You know, I had to play around my return position quite a lot, and I started to get into more service games the second and third set.”

 

After Tsonga sealed the first-set tie-break 7-5 with a booming ace, Murray found himself with the advantage in the second set, holding twice before breaking for 3-2. Although he was immediately broken back to love, the world No.9 would regain his edge, breaking Tsonga to love for a 6-4 margin in the second set.

 

“Tennis and sport really can change a lot from one day to the next,” said Murray, who had enjoyed an eight-match winning streak against Tsonga until today, “You wake up on the wrong side of the bed, which maybe he did in Miami and I played a good match, that can happen. He’s a fantastic athlete,” Murray added, “When his game is on, he’s very tough to beat.”

 

Tsonga would prevail in a 45-minute deciding set of high-quality tennis mixed in with some frustrating errors from both players. Ultimately, he would serve out the final set 6-4, serving three aces and a double fault. “I just stayed focused,” said the 29-year-old Frenchman, who has made the interesting fashion choice this week of tucking in his shirt, “Tried to be a little bit more aggressive because I was a little bit flat after losing the second set. He gave me one or two points he didn’t give me since the start of the second set, and, you know, then I went back and I won it.”

 

Tsonga will play Grigor Dimitrov next his third career Rogers Cup semifinal. Other winning quarterfinals included Roger Federer and Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Anderson Ousts Third Seed Wawrinka in Toronto

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

By Dave Gertler

 

(August 7, 2014) TORONTO – Big-serving South African Kevin Anderson has made the most of relatively cold and gusty conditions to upset 3rd seed Stanislas Wawrinka in their Rogers Cup round-of-16 match on Thursday. This is the second straight win Anderson has had over Wawrinka since the Swiss 29-year-old won the Australian Open in January.

 

“I’m very happy,” said Anderson to media, appearing fresh and unruffled by their one-hour, 44-minute exchange, “Any time beating one of the best guys in the world is a great feeling. Obviously it’s a big challenge walking out there.”

 

Both players exchanged breaks early on their way to a first-set tie-break, in which both players had set points, Anderson claiming it 10-8. “After going down that early break (in the first set),” said Anderson, “Stan gave me a couple of double faults and just allowed me back in the match, and from there, I thought I served really, really well. I couldn’t be more happy on that front.”

 

Anderson increased his first-serve percentage in the second set to 75%, serving 7 aces along the way, keeping the pressure firmly on Wawrinka’s service games. “When I’m taking care of my serve games,” said Anderson, “It just allows me to relax a little bit more, and I thought I did a good job especially in the second, when I wasn’t getting too many looks on his serve. Sometimes in the past, I’ve let that frustrate me a little bit, and today I just let it go, and stayed focused on my serve game.”

 

“I had some chance,” said Wawrinka, showing minimal alarm at his early exit to the unseeded world No.21, “I had set point. I had two, three times 0-30, and the chance I didn’t took, it was more about choosing the right shot to play. Did some mistake that I shouldn’t do, and that’s happened.”

 

In general, I’m feeling great,” said Wawrinka, who will now leave Toronto for Cincinnati to compete at the Western & Southern Open next week, “I’m feeling physically good. I’m moving well. I’m playing well. It’s just that I need more matches to be really at the top.”

 

Anderson will contest his first career quarterfinal in Canada against Grigor Dimitrov.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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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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A Consistent Murray Moves Past Teen Kyrgios in Toronto

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

 

By Dave Gertler

(August 6, 2014) TORONTO – Andy Murray has averted the potential threat coming from Nick Kyrgios at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Wednesday. Back from his hiatus that commenced after he was ousted from the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, the world No. 9 appeared fresh and in rhythm, employing a mixture of rock-solid consistency and relentless pressure to weather the initial onslaught from the explosive Australian teenager, and ultimately move through to the round of 16.

 

­

After both players exchanged holds of serve on Stadium Court, cracks began to appear in Kyrgios’ game. An unforced error-laden game saw him get broken for 1-2. “It was a solid match for a first match back after sort of four-and-a-half, five weeks. I was happy,” said Murray after the match, “I  thought I did most things pretty solid. I didn’t make too many errors. I moved well. High first-serve percentage.”

 

After a series of love-holds from both players, Murray struck again with a second break for 5-2, consolidating for the first set. After compound-fracturing his racquet at the tail-end of the first set, Kyrgios set about gaining a foothold in the second set, new racquet in hand.

 

But after both players held twice early in the second set, the 27-year-old wielded his experience over the 19-year-old, breaking him twice, sealing the next four games. The final scoreline of 6-2, 6-2 was achieved in 54 minutes. “He played way too good for me today,” said Kyrgios, who leaves tomorrow morning for Cincinnati to prepare to qualify for the Western & Southern Open, his last stop before the US Open later in August.  “I never felt comfortable out there. I felt awkward and wasn’t serving great, and he made me pay the price, so there’s a lot of things I can take away from that match today.”

 

To reach the second round, Kyrgios had to spring back from a set behind in the first-round against Colombian Santiago Giraldo yesterday, but Kyrgios said about today’s match. “I don’t think I can beat myself up too much,” said Kyrgios,”I haven’t played that much tennis at this sort of level yet. I’ve played a couple of grand slams, and this is only my third tour event, so it’s all new to me still, I’m getting used to it though.”

 

Having won the Rogers Cup twice before, Murray has not made it past the quarterfinals since 2010, and will now play Richard Gasquet in the round of 16, while Novak Djokovic will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in his third-round match. While Tsonga made it through his opponent, compatriot Jeremy Chardy, in straight sets on Grandstand Court, Djokovic found himself in a dire situation against another Frenchman, Gael Monfils. While it was the Serb world No.1 who made it through in the end, it was not without dropping a set to Monfils, both players electrifying the crowd with highlight-reel tennis over a devastating two hours and 40 minutes on Stadium Court, the final score going Djokovic’s way, 6-2, 6-7, 7-6(2).

 

Other winners to advance to the third round included Ivan Dodig, Marin Cilic, Julien Benneteau, Tommy Robredo and Kevin Anderson.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

 

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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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