October 10, 2015

Eugenie Bouchard Continues Slump with Opening Round Loss to Belinda Bencic in Toronto

Belinda Bencic

Belinda Bencic

By Brodie Widdifield

(August, 11, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – Another tournament and another early round loss for Eugenie Bouchard. Despite showing flashes of her spectacular 2014 form, she failed to escape her first match in a Canadian tournament once again and fell to an impressive 18-year-old Belinda Bencic 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 at the Rogers Cup.


The first set may have been one of the worst of the young Canadian’s career. She looked nervous and lost for ideas as she hit 15 unforced errors to her opponent’s zero and failed to impose herself on the match. She looked a step slow and her backhand looked particularly volatile.


Bouchard fought back in the second, however, and showed shades of the form that brought her so much success in 2014. “I didn’t freak out, I just thought to myself that I was just shaking off the rust a little bit, and I really didn’t panic.” She began hitting her backhand down the line and pushing the ball into space which led to some long, thrilling rallies. The Canadian crowd came alive, and Bouchard saved a match point en route to winning the set, 7-5.


Unfortunately, it was all for naught as Belinda Bencic raised her game, cut out some of the errors that plauged her in the second set and went on to take the match 6-0, 5-7, 6-2, all despite a crowd wildly cheering for her opponent. Bouchard has now lost 13 of her last 15 matches.


In some ways, it was the perfect representation of two young players whose careers have been heading in opposite directions this season. However, Bouchard was upbeat after the match, and saw the flashes of good play in the second set as a sign of an upward turn. “I’m pleased with my performance. It’s for sure a step in the right direction. I played the whole match pain free, that was one of the goals, the most important one, maybe. I’m going to go into the next few weeks with some goals, and just try and build on this match today.”


She will head to Cincinnati and then New Haven in search of more match play and more importantly, wins. Whether or not she will search for a new coach remains unsure, after splitting with Sam Sumyk after the end of Wimbledon. “It definitely wasn’t working. There were some big problems, and I just felt like I had to make a change.”


For Bencic, it is another fantastic win in a year that was highlighted by a title run in Eastbourne. “The crowd was on her side, but I enjoyed the atmosphere – to play on such a big court was also fun for me. I really like it here.”


The young Swiss player will take on Caroline Wozniacki – a player she beat on her way to that very title in Eastbourne this year – and knows what to expect. “Obviously she brings really a lot of balls back, and she doesn’t miss a lot. I know how to play against her. I’m ready for tomorrow, I hope.”


Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site 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.


$ 2,513,000.00
10- 16 AUGUST 2015

Singles – Second Round

[1] S. Williams (USA) d F. Pennetta (ITA) 26 63 60
First Round
A. Cornet (FRA) d [9] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 63 67(2) 64
[Q] M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) d [10] K. Pliskova (CZE) 36 76(5) 62
[11] E. Makarova (RUS) d [Q] A. Tatishvili (USA) 63 63
A. Riske (USA) d [12] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) 36 76(4) 76(3)
[13] A. Kerber (GER) d [Q] M. Doi (JPN) 60 61
[15] S. Errani (ITA) d K. Mladenovic (FRA) 57 61 60
[16] A. Petkovic (GER) d [WC] F. Abanda (CAN) 36 64 62
[Q] H. Watson (GBR) d [Q] I. Falconi (USA) 61 62
R. Vinci (ITA) d K. Knapp (ITA) 60 60
D. Gavrilova (RUS) d S. Stosur (AUS) 64 64
B. Bencic (SUI) d E. Bouchard (CAN) 60 57 62
B. Strycova (CZE) d V. Lepchenko (USA) 62 64
[Q] P. Hercog (SLO) d A. Van Uytvanck (BEL) 64 16 63
[Q] O. Govortsova (BLR) d I. Begu (ROU) 63 76(4)
[Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR) d [Q] Y. Wickmayer (BEL) 63 76(3)
[Q] C. Witthoeft (GER) d C. Vandeweghe (USA) 63 36 61
M. Brengle (USA) d [WC] C. Zhao (CAN) 61 61
V. Azarenka (BLR) d E. Svitolina (UKR) 61 64
[LL] J. Goerges (GER) d Z. Diyas (KAZ) 26 61 75
D. Cibulkova (SVK) d S. Stephens (USA) 63 64
[Q] M. Puig (PUR) d [Q] M. Duque-Mariño (COL) 64 46 75
J. Jankovic (SRB) d C. Garcia (FRA) 76(4) 62

Doubles – First Round

K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE) d [5] C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) 67(5) 64 15-13
[8] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d J. Jankovic (SRB) / R. Vinci (ITA) 76(5) 60
J. Goerges (GER) / K. Jans-Ignacik (POL) d L. Kichenok (UKR) / O. Savchuk (UKR) 75 63
D. Jurak (CRO) / R. Kops-Jones (USA) d [WC] D. Gavrilova (RUS) / S. Halep (ROU) 62 63
M. Krajicek (NED) / B. Strycova (CZE) d A. Groenefeld (GER) / A. Tomljanovic (CRO) 64 64

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
D. Gavrilova (RUS) vs [7] L. Safarova (CZE)

Not Before 1:00 pm
J. Jankovic (SRB) vs [2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU)
[4] C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs B. Bencic (SUI)

Not Before 7:00 pm
V. Azarenka (BLR) vs [3] P. Kvitova (CZE)
[6] A. Radwanska (POL) vs [LL] J. Goerges (GER)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[8] G. Muguruza (ESP) vs [Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR)
[Q] O. Govortsova (BLR) vs [5] A. Ivanovic (SRB)
D. Cibulkova (SVK) vs A. Cornet (FRA)

Not Before 6:00 pm
[13] A. Kerber (GER) vs [Q] M. Puig (PUR)
G. Dabrowski (CAN) / A. Rosolska (POL) vs [WC] F. Abanda (CAN) / H. El Tabakh (CAN)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
[11] E. Makarova (RUS) vs [Q] P. Hercog (SLO)
B. Strycova (CZE) vs S. Lisicki (GER)
[Q] H. Watson (GBR) vs [16] A. Petkovic (GER)
C. Chan (TPE) / P. Kania (POL) vs [WC] S. Fichman (CAN) / C. Zhao (CAN)
After Suitable Rest – L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / A. Klepac (SLO) vs [WC] B. Bencic (SUI) / D. Cibulkova (SVK)

COURT 2 start 11:00 am
[15] S. Errani (ITA) vs M. Brengle (USA)
[Q] C. Witthoeft (GER) vs A. Riske (USA)
After Suitable Rest – [6] S. Errani (ITA) / F. Pennetta (ITA) vs [Alt] M. Barthel (GER) / M. Minella (LUX)
After Suitable Rest – D. Jurak (CRO) / R. Kops-Jones (USA) vs [3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE)

COURT 3 start 11:00 am
[Q] M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs R. Vinci (ITA)
H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE) vs [7] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE)
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs C. Chuang (TPE) / C. Liang (CHN)
After Suitable Rest – I. Begu (ROU) / I. Olaru (ROU) vs [8] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)


“Getting Myself on Track,” Victoria Azarenka Advances in Toronto


By Brodie Widdifield

(August 11, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – Life as a touring tennis professional is a lonely one, but the long recovery from a serious injury can be even tougher. Victoria Azarenka struggled with a foot injury in 2014 which caused a serious dip in results, and eventually forced her to cut her year short in September.


With so much time away from the sport, Azarenka was afforded some time to think about herself in a way she might not be able to during the regularly busy tour. “Just getting myself on track, taking responsibilities for your actions, learning from your mistakes, getting organized, which I hate, and now I’m really good at it.” She stressed the importance of improving her relationships with others, even including the media. “Having probably the best relationship with my parents that I ever had. So that was something that I worked really hard on, and it’s amazing to me.” “I feel like I improved a lot with you guys (the media) since wherever I started. So that’s definitely a good job,” quipped the Belurussian, laughing.


While Azarenka admitted to being a perfectionist, she has also admitted to herself that she needs to give herself a break sometimes. “That’s why I need to like sometimes give myself a little bit of a, I don’t know, pat on the back and say good job, because I don’t like to be too satisfied because then I get myself too comfortable and then I’m not motivated.”


The combination of poor results in 2014 and the time off due to injury left Azarenka with a much lower ranking than she is used to. She has welcomed the challenge of boosting her ranking back up, and is not looking back to times when things were a bit easier. “I grew as a player. I have a lot more variety, a lot more power, a lot more consistency and better game overall. So for me, I don’t look in getting back there, because that was something I wanted to build from.”


“I have to slowly and steadily be coming my way up and I’ve been playing really good. I just lost a few times to a number one player, and I think a top ten player. I’m not developing my game. I’m just improving details. For me it’s just going after it and working really hard and giving myself the best opportunity to take out the best quality.”


When asked whether or not the tour felt new again after such an extended break, Azarenka could not help but poke fun at herself. “I just turned 26, and I can’t believe that, actually. Everybody says, hey, you are still a baby, and to me it feels like it’s been forever I’ve been playing on tour.”


Azarenka defeated Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-4 and will face Petra Kvitova Wednesday in the second round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.


Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site 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.


WTA All-Access at 2015 Rogers Cup


By Brodie Widdifield

(August 10, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – The beginning of August always represents one of the most exciting times of the year for Canadian tennis fans with the Rogers Cup tournament getting underway. For players on the WTA, it represents the beginning of the North American hard court swing, and the end of a short but enjoyable post-Wimbledon holiday.

It’s definitely my favourite time of the season,” said Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane has dealt with a back injury this season and stressed the importance of fitness for this difficult yet important part of the season. “The most important thing is to stay healthy.”


Petra Kvitova has been less lucky with her health, unfortunately. “I spent a few days off in Monaco as a vacation. I was trying to practice a little bit, but unfortunately I was diagnosed with mono.” The Czech emphasized that she was working with her team to properly schedule her practicing in order to conserve energy. “I probably got it during the spring time and I still have a little bit of it. I’m still going to play, but I need to worrying about the practicing, and I’ll try to be ready for the matches.”


Ana Ivanovic also took some time off, and emphasized switching to hard courts would not be a challenge. “It’s not such a difficult change. A lot of players take time off, which was the case with me. The hardest transition is clay to grass, so I look forward to playing on the hard courts here in the United States and Canada.”


Romanian Simona Halep was one of the stand out players of 2014, but has found success more difficult to come by in 2015. She seemed excited to get her hard court season under way in Toronto after deciding late to enter the tournament on a wild card. “I need some matches.” However, she enjoyed her time off after Wimbledon and is looking forward to getting back on court. “It was really good. I stayed calm, all four weeks, with my family, with my friends. Now I feel good, I feel confident, and I hope to have good matches here.” “I was a little bit tired after Indian Wells and Miami.”


The other hot topic on the lips of reporters and players was the continued success of the world’s best player, Serena Williams. With the season’s first three grand slams in her pocket, she will look to complete what was originally known as “The Grand Slam” – winning all four majors in a calendar year.

Not even Serena Williams herself could say it would be business as usual in New York. “It definitely feels different. Winning the Serena Slam this year took some pressure off.” Even at age 33, the world number 1 has no intentions of slowing down as she enjoys one of the best years of her career. “I feel like every year that goes by I start to love the game more than I did the previous year.”

Other players were genuinely happy for the success of Williams this year. Ana Ivanovic even said she would like to see her win the US Open. “I really hope she can do it. She’s been working really hard, she’s been on top of the game so long so I think she deserves it. We’re so lucky to have someone like her in our sport, and I don’t think she gets enough credit for what she has achieved.”

Simona Halep shared her views. “For me she is the best player in the world. She has a lot of power, and also mental power. I think she can do all four, and win the US Open this year.” But when asked if it was frustrating to constantly have such a dominant player, the Romanian only laughed. “For me it is not. It’s really nice to have a player [like her]. She’s very competitive and she loves to be number one.”

Finally, Garbine Muguruza was perhaps one of the most engaging interviews on the afternoon. Now in the top 8, the Spaniard invites all the attention that comes along with reaching a grand slam final at just 21. “Obviously things are changing, media, people are looking more at what I’m doing, but I’m enjoying it. You have to be ready, you have to be more mature. The good moments go so quickly, and the bad ones are so slow.” She mentioned that she learned a lot from the Wimbledon final, but laughed when asked if she had watched any of the match again. “I just watched the two minute highlights. No more than that.”

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site 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.


Montreal Rogers Cup Day 1 – A Walk in the Park

Montreal Rogers Cup Day 01: A Walk in the Park

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin


(August 10, 2015) MONTREAL, Canada – There you are, in the park. Jogging, walking your dog, having a picnic. You are looking at the clouds, daydreaming. But then you hear a regular series of thumps, followed by roars, clapping, yelling. You drop your workout, your Yorkie or your sandwich and head towards the noise. You walk up a few stairs, sit down on a not-so-comfortable metal bench and it hits you: you are watching Andy Murray. Then it’s Rafael Nadal. And now Novak Djokovic. Back-to-back-to-back.


The concept is, they believe, unique. The organizers of the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Montreal were looking for ways to make the tournament more accessible and reach a new public, one that may not naturally be drawn to tennis. They started by making the Qualifying weekend free. They then added an extra day of free practices on the Friday before the tournament. And a few years ago, in the middle of Jarry Park, one of the biggest public parks in Montreal and where the Uniprix Stadium complex is situated, they built a large set of bleachers overlooking Court 9.


The bleachers sat about a thousand curious onlookers, who can just take a seat and enjoy the show; as the setting actually is outside of the tournament grounds, it is free. On the opening day of this year’s event, the Rogers Cup went all out in their scheduling: after a somewhat unremarkable singles first round match on that court, they switched to doubles with matches featuring Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic. Opportunities to see four of the biggest stars of the sport in front of your own eyes in the same day are rare to start with. But seeing them live without spending a penny? Probably a once-a-lifetime chance.


All afternoon, Court 9 was packed, both on the free and paying sides. A few smart ticket holders actually got away from the never-ending lines by getting off the ground and up in the free seats. Everyone was treated to some pretty good doubles, though it was somewhat singles-oriented. And there might be more of Novak, Andy and Nadal on Court 9 for the rest of the week, as the three of them got through their first rounds.


On the singles side, it was also a walk in the park for most of the favorites. Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils, the only two seeds to complete their first round match, didn’t spend much time on court against their tricky Italian opponents (Seppi and Fognini, respectively). In an all-Spanish affair, Tommy Robredo fought through Feliciano Lopez in three sets, while Ivo Karlovic prevailed in a big-serving battle against Jerry Janowicz, only to face another big server in the second round in home favorite Milos Raonic. Other first round winners included Bernard Tomic, Thomaz Bellucci, Donald Young, Leonardo Mayer, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Sam Querrey and Gilles Muller.



Singles – First Round
[9] G. Simon (FRA) d A. Seppi (ITA) 62 64
[15] G. Monfils (FRA) d F. Fognini (ITA) 63 61
T. Bellucci (BRA) d P. Cuevas (URU) 76(4) 46 76(4)
[Q] D. Young (USA) d [Q] D. Kudla (USA) 63 64
L. Mayer (ARG) d [Q] H. Chung (KOR) 63 64
I. Karlovic (CRO) d J. Janowicz (POL) 64 76(6)
S. Stakhovsky (UKR) d [WC] F. Peliwo (CAN) 61 57 62
S. Querrey (USA) d M. Klizan (SVK) 63 63
B. Tomic (AUS) d J. Sousa (POR) 63 63
G. Muller (LUX) d [WC] P. Bester (CAN) 62 63
T. Robredo (ESP) d F. Lopez (ESP) 63 36 63

Doubles – First Round
R. Nadal (ESP) / F. Verdasco (ESP) d T. Berdych (CZE) / J. Sock (USA) 63 57 10-6
A. Murray (GBR) / L. Paes (IND) d K. Anderson (RSA) / J. Chardy (FRA) 63 61
[PR] N. Djokovic (SRB) / J. Tipsarevic (SRB) d A. Seppi (ITA) / V. Troicki (SRB) 64 63


Tsonga Tops Federer for Toronto Title

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(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.


Tsonga Moves into Toronto Final

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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 .


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.


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.


After Win Over Djokovic, Tsonga Continues Form with Upset of Murray to Reach Toronto Semis

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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 .