September 3, 2015

Belinda Bencic Wins Rogers Cup in Toronto

Belinda Bencic photo courtesy of the LTA by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images for LTA

By Brodie Widdifield

(August 16, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – Nothing about Sunday’s final between Simona Halep and Belinda Bencic was ordinary.

 

While everyone would have reasonably expected to see the second seeded Romanian Halep in the final, no one saw the fairy tale run of 18 year old Belinda Bencic coming. The young Swiss eliminated a whos who of top WTA players – Bouchard, Wozniacki, Lisicki, Ivanovic and finally Serena Williams Saturday night.

 

The dramatic turns of the match itself were befitting to what has been a dramatic week of tennis in Canada overall. With the sun beating down, the players traded five consecutive breaks to kick things off. Both players were changing directions often, creating many long, intriguing rallies from the baseline.

 

And then, the crowd. While there has been a large contingent of vocal Romanians in the crowd all week, they were the most vocal for the final. At one point, chair umpire Marija Cicak even said the Romanian word for thank you, “mulțumesc”, in order to try and quiet the crowd, which was met with an eruption from the crowd’s Romanian fans.

 

For all their cheering, Bencic was unfazed as she squeaked out the opening set in a tiebreak, 7-6(5), in well over an hour. “It’s amazing that the atmosphere is so great even if it’s against me. The people are very excited, and really, I feel like it’s the right thing. I think some people in some other tournaments should take an example from here.”

 

And then the match turned again.

 

Halep began receiving treatment for her left thigh, which seemed to be impeding her movement. Later in the set she had blood pressure taken, was wrapped in ice and drinking liquids in an attempt to keep her energy up. “We both were fighting so hard,” said Bencic. “We had long rallies, so it was obvious that we were very exhausted, both.” Amazingly, she took the second set in a tiebreak, barely reacting and simply hanging her head as she walked slowly back to her chair.

 

In the end, Halep was spent and decided to end the match, giving the title to Belinda Bencic 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 3-0 ret. “I was thinking that I need a miracle to finish the match, but at 3-0 I said it is no sense to continue, and I stopped.”

 

“I had great victories,” said Halep. “So I take only the positives. I’m thinking to play Cincinnati, then I am entered on the New Haven tournament. And then US Open. So I don’t change anything right now. So I will see next days.”

 

This is the second title of Bencic’s season, and without a doubt the biggest week of the 18-year-old’s career. “I just feel like I improved myself, also in the game, but also in how I understand the game and know the opponents well and try to think on teh court and what I need to do. And I’ve also grown as a player. I think my service improved a little bit. And I feel like I still have potential to go better, to play better and to serve better and just everything.”

 

“Obviously it’s very big boost for your confidence. Now I actually feel like I belong here, and that I can be really one of the top players. It’s an amazing feeling.”

 

Brodie Widdifield is the author of the tennis web site 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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Serena Williams Beaten by Swiss Teen Belinda Bencic in Toronto Semis

 

By Brodie Widdifield

(August 15, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – It started quietly, but it ended in fireworks.

 

Belinda Bencic has been a name of the lips of many WTA fans this year. It started with a coaching partnership with fellow Swiss Martina Hingis, and her impressive win over Agnieszka Radwanska at Eastbourne gave her a first WTA title. She kicked off her hard court swing in Toronto with a series of impressive wins over Eugenie Bouchard, Caroline Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki and Ana Ivanovic.

 

But no one saw this coming.

 

Bencic took on world No. 1 Serena Williams Saturday night and it quickly looked like match might not be anything more than an exhibition of the American’s ability to change angles and attack. Williams raced out to a 5-1 lead in just 33 minutes, taking the set 6-3.

 

The young Swiss player did manage to construct some better points at the end of the set, and she managed to get a foot hold in the match. The players traded serves, but Serena’s serving quickly began to deteriorate, eventually ending with her being broken in the middle of the set and taking her frustration out violently on her racquet. “I think I played really crappy today. And I don’t think you would disagree,” said Williams. “I was just really struggling with my serve today and everything wasn’t right with it.”

 

Belinda failed to close out the second set at first, but eventually broke at 5-6 as the lights got brighter and the noise from the crowd grew louder. “Obviously she wasn’t serving as great as she normally does,” said the Swiss. “But I think I tried to read her serve also I read it better in the end, and I was returning sometimes very good on the big points.”

 

The struggles continued for Serena into the third set and Belinda raced to a 4-0 lead. Williams fought back to get things on serve. “I was very nervous in that moment, but I told myself today is my chance and I really have to stay focused and be mentally tough, even if I didn’t do it on the first try.” But the Swiss completed the upset, breaking at 4-5 and taking the match 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

 

“In the end it was just so loud, and I didn’t think anything.”

 

The win was undoubtedly the biggest of her young career. “I can’t describe the feeling right now. I was very overwhelmed from the situation on the court, but I’m just so happy the forehand landed in and she couldn’t reach it anymore. It was an incredible feeling. I have no words.”

This was just the second loss on the year for the 33-year-old Serena Williams.

 

The 18-year-old Bencic will take on Romanian Simona Halep in Sunday’s final. Halep defeated Sara Errani 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day. “She’s an amazing player. She’s so consistent all of the year and definitely going to be a hard match, but I think today I have to enjoy this victory and tomorrow I will look what I can do against her.”

 

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.

 

TORONTO RESULTS, SATURDAY AUGUST 15, 2015

Singles – Semifinals
B. Bencic (SUI) d [1] S. Williams (USA) 36 75 64
[2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU) d [15] S. Errani (ITA) 64 64

Doubles- Semifinals
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) d [1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) 63 62
[3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) d K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE) 64 76(5)

MONTREAL RESULTS, SATURDAY AUGUST 15, 2015

Singles – Semifinals / Demi-finales
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d J. Chardy (FRA) 64 64
[2] A. Murray (GBR) d [4] K. Nishikori (JPN) 63 60

Doubles- Semifinals / Demi-finales
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) d [6] A. Peya (AUT) / B. Soares (BRA) 67(7) 64 10-7
D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d [PR] N. Djokovic (SRB) / J. Tipsarevic (SRB) 36 61 10-4

TORONTO ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 2015

CENTRE COURT start 1:00
B. Bencic (SUI) vs [2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU)
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs [3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE)

MONTREAL ORDER OF PLAY – SUNDAY AUGUST 16, 2015

COURT CENTRAL start 12:30 pm
[1] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) vs D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

Not Before 3:00 pm
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [2] A. Murray (GBR)

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In Topsy-Turvy Match, Simona Halep Bounces Back to Reach Toronto Semis

221 Dubai Halep celebration3 -001

By Brodie Widdifield

(August 14, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – When trying to determine what we should expect from a match we often look to the players’ past matches against each other and how their styles of play compare and contrast. No one would have predicted the topsy-turvy, entertaining affair that took place Friday afternoon in Toronto at the Rogers Cup.

 

Simona Halep and Agnieszka Radwanska played each other three times in 2014. All three were straight set matches on hard courts, with Halep taking two of three. With the Romanian battling through a grueling three set match with Angelique Kerber on Thursday, it looked like she may fail to even win a game.

 

“It was difficult, because I was a bit tired when I started the match, and I didn’t have time to warm up very well before because it was raining, and the schedule was a little bit complicated,” said Halep. The world No. 3 won just 13 of 40 points in the first set, and Radwanska rolled to a 6-0 lead.

 

Halep managed to finally get a service hold and slowly the match began to change. The Romanian took some pace off of her shots which slowed the rallies and allowed her to play with more angles and spin in the slow, grey conditions of Toronto. “After that set I said that I have to change something. I was hitting the balls very strong, and it was not a good idea playing against Radwanska because she knows how to make you run during the point. I just tried during the point to make her run, like with short cross. I think I did a good change, and that’s maybe why I won.”

 

The second set quickly started to look like Halep’s match against Kerber as the length of rallies increased, including some thrilling ones that ended at the net. A particularly crazy game at 3-3 proved to be the turning point, as after Halep won it, the match was essentially over. She won eight of the following nine games and rolled to a 0-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory to make her first semifinal in Canada.

 

“I think played my best tennis since Miami. I come from bad results in the French Open and Wimbledon, but players always have ups and downs and I just wanted to stay focused to still believe in myself that I can do some results this year.”

 

The Romanian continued to thank her wild Romanian fans both on the court and in press after the match. “Today when I was down 0-5, they were supporting me like I was up 5-0. It was amazing, and they gave me power just to stay there, still fighting for the victory.”

 

Halep will face Sara Errani in the semifinals, who defeated qualifier Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 6-4 later in the day. Halep will also attempt to become the second straight Romanian to make the final of the WTA version of the Toronto event after Sorana Cirstea made it all the way to Sunday in 2013. Halep leads the head to head, 2-1, and won their only meeting this year in Stuttgart, 6-4, 6-4.

 

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.

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Simona Halep Safely into the Final 16 in Toronto While Five Seeds Fall

Halep 2182015-001

By Brodie Widdifield

 

(August 12, 2015) TORONTO, Canada – While much of the mainstream media’s attention has been on the baffling struggles of Eugenie Bouchard, Simona Halep has quietly had a disappointing 2015. After falling in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, she went on to win Indian Wells – the biggest title of her career. Beyond that, it was disappointment as she fell in the second and first rounds of Roland Garros and Wimbledon, tournaments she had made the final and semifinals of just a year prior.

 

The 23-year- old Romanian admitted to being tired after Indian Wells and Miami. “At the beginning of the year I played some good tennis, but after I lost at two grand slams were last year I played good tennis. But maybe I couldn’t handle the pressure, and maybe I was a little bit tired. My life has changed a lot. Obviously everyone in my country is recognizing me and it’s a little bit tough. I have to accept and go forward.”

 

After a post Wimbledon break with her family, Halep decided to play Toronto, and the fans in Canada could not have been happier about her decision. Romanian fans came out in droves to support Sorana Cirstea during her unlikely run to the final in 2013 in Toronto, and they were chanting Simona‘s name after just the first game.

 

“I’m really happy that I have such a big support. Romanians are everywhere, so I really want to thank them for supporting me. It’s really nice to see our flag everywhere. Many Romanian words in the crowd. So that makes me happy on the court and makes me more, you know, more stronger that I have big support, and I can say that I fight easier.”

 

The support certainly did not hurt. Halep came out of the gate strong against Jelena Jankovic Wednesday afternoon. Changing directions early in the rally and keeping the ball deep, she was consistently on top in rallies. “I tried just to be aggressive, to take the ball as soon as possible, because I know that she has good defense. I tried to keep my first serve in because she’s returning well. I tried to play her forehand more, because I know she has a strong backhand. I didn’t want to rush myself, just go into the court and just to take the ball fast and to open the court.”

 

Continuing to move well and keeping errors low, the good form continued into the second set and Halep went on to take the second round match 6-3, 6-4. “I can say that I had stress free because I did not have expectations for this match because I had a long break. But I did pretty well today and I’m really happy I could win in two sets.” The win could set up some of the best matches of the tournament, as Halep will face Angelique Kerber on Thursday and potentially Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.

 

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.

ROGERS CUP PRESENTED BY NATIONAL BANK – TORONTO, CANADA
$ 2,513,000.00
10- 16 AUGUST 2015

RESULTS – AUGUST 12, 2015
Women’s
Singles – Second Round

[2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU) d J. Jankovic (SRB) 63 64
V. Azarenka (BLR) d [3] P. Kvitova (CZE) 62 63
B. Bencic (SUI) d [4] C. Wozniacki (DEN) 75 75
[5] A. Ivanovic (SRB) d [Q] O. Govortsova (BLR) 64 76(4)
[6] A. Radwanska (POL) d [LL] J. Goerges (GER) 75 63
D. Gavrilova (RUS) d [7] L. Safarova (CZE) 46 75 75
[Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR) d [8] G. Muguruza (ESP) 75 61
[Q] P. Hercog (SLO) d [11] E. Makarova (RUS) 62 67(2) 75
[13] A. Kerber (GER) d [Q] M. Puig (PUR) 62 63
[15] S. Errani (ITA) d M. Brengle (USA) 63 26 63
[16] A. Petkovic (GER) d [Q] H. Watson (GBR) 64 63
R. Vinci (ITA) d [Q] M. Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 63 63
S. Lisicki (GER) d B. Strycova (CZE) 76(3) 64
[Q] C. Witthoeft (GER) d A. Riske (USA) 64 57 63
A. Cornet (FRA) d D. Cibulkova (SVK) 63 62

Women’s
Doubles – Second Round

[3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) d D. Jurak (CRO) / R. Kops-Jones (USA) 62 62
I. Begu (ROU) / I. Olaru (ROU) d [8] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) 76(5) 06 10-4
First Round
[6] S. Errani (ITA) / F. Pennetta (ITA) d [Alt] M. Barthel (GER) / M. Minella (LUX) 61 63
H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE) d [7] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) 64 36 10-8
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) d C. Chuang (TPE) / C. Liang (CHN) 36 61 10-8
[WC] F. Abanda (CAN) / H. El Tabakh (CAN) d G. Dabrowski (CAN) / A. Rosolska (POL) 75 75
[WC] B. Bencic (SUI) / D. Cibulkova (SVK) d L. Arruabarrena (ESP) / A. Klepac (SLO) 61 76(5)
[WC] S. Fichman (CAN) / C. Zhao (CAN) d C. Chan (TPE) / P. Kania (POL) 16 64 10-5

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, AUGUST 13, 2015
CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
R. Vinci (ITA) vs D. Gavrilova (RUS)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[13] A. Kerber (GER) vs [2] [WC] S. Halep (ROU)
[15] S. Errani (ITA) vs V. Azarenka (BLR)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] S. Williams (USA) vs [16] A. Petkovic (GER)
[Q] P. Hercog (SLO) vs [5] A. Ivanovic (SRB)

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[Q] L. Tsurenko (UKR) vs [Q] C. Witthoeft (GER)
B. Bencic (SUI) vs S. Lisicki (GER)
[6] A. Radwanska (POL) vs A. Cornet (FRA)

Not Before 6:00 pm
K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE) vs M. Krajicek (NED) / B. Strycova (CZE)
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs H. Chan (TPE) / Y. Chan (TPE)

COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
[WC] S. Fichman (CAN) / C. Zhao (CAN) vs [2] E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO) vs [WC] F. Abanda (CAN) / H. El Tabakh (CAN)
[1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs J. Goerges (GER) / K. Jans-Ignacik (POL)

Not Before 3:00 pm
After Suitable Rest – [6] S. Errani (ITA) / F. Pennetta (ITA) vs [WC] B. Bencic (SUI) / D. Cibulkova (SVK)

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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.

 

ROGERS CUP PRESENTED BY NATIONAL BANK – TORONTO, CANADA
$ 2,513,000.00
10- 16 AUGUST 2015

RESULTS – AUGUST 11, 2015
Women’s
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

Women’s
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

ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2015
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)

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

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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.

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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.

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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 .

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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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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 .

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