Serena Williams Takes the Rest of the Year Off
By Tia Ko
I was pretty disappointed to hear that Serena Williams decided to take the rest of the year off after withdrawing from the China Open in Beijing this week and the WTA Finals in Singapore later this month. In a statement it says that she needs the time to recover from reoccurring injuries but I have to wonder if she's taking the time to emotionally recover from that devastating loss to Roberta Vinci last month.
"It’s no secret I’ve played injured most of the year — whether it was my elbow, my knee or, in the final moments after a certain match in Flushing, my heart."
Vinci beat Serena in the semi-finals of the US Open causing one of the biggest upsets in the history of the sport. Serena was on her way to achieving one of the biggest accomplishments in tennis, the calendar grand slam, but couldn't come up with the shots to take out the Italian veteran.
Serena's coach Patrick Mouratoglou said he wants her to play when she has the right motivation, "Any loss is very painful for her, but this one even more than usual. So it just takes time to recover from it, and when the motivation comes back, which I don't doubt it will, then it will be time to start tournaments again."
Serena doesn't have too much too lose from not playing in Beijing or the WTA Finals. She will still keep her number one ranking for the rest of the year because she only has 215 points to defend from the China Open and currently has a 4,000 point lead over the number two player, Simona Halep.
“This is a very difficult decision, but one ultimately made because of the love of the game. I plan to return to practicing and participating in exhibition matches later this year. And when I do, l will focus and focus and focus so I can continue my journey in this beautiful game."
I think it's a good idea for Serena to take the time off. If she needs to take a break and focus on what she needs to do next season then I'm all for it. Plus, next year is the Rio Summer Olympics... how about a golden calendar slam, Serena?
By Tia Ko
Tia’s Top Tweets
Maybe a massage on Stan's ankle would have be a better idea. The number one seed at the Moselle Open in Metz, France twisted his ankle in the third set when playing against Germany's Dustin Brown. The Swiss went on to win the match but ultimately had to pull out of his quarter-final match versus Philipp Kohlschreiber.
I'll admit, I was happy to see Dinara Safina today when Mariya K tweeted this photo of her, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic in St. Petersburg. Despite being the number one seed, Berdych went out in the first round versus Simone Bolelli. Milos, the number two seed, blazed into the semi-final yesterday when he beat Tommy Robredo, 6-1, 6-2. He will play today for a spot in the final against Roberto Bautista Agut.
These lovebirds have been together for 10 years! Novak Djokovic and Jelena Ristic have been dating since they were only 19 years old. They got married in July 2014 and welcomed a baby boy named Stefan in October of the same year.
I think both Andy and Jamie get their ferocity from their mother, Judy. The Brits are into the Davis Cup final for the first time since 1978! Job well done, boys. Andy Murray sealed they deal when he beat Australia's Bernard Tomic 7-5 6-3 6-2 on Sunday night. Great Britain will face Belgium in November's final.
Who Celebrated a Birthday This Week?
September 26- Happy 34th birthday, Serena Williams!
September 24- Jack Sock turned 23 years old.
September 23- Juan Martín del Potro turned 27 years old.
September 22- Sabine Lisicki turned 26 years old.
September 20- Feliciano López turned 34 years old.
Strange Story of the Week
The strange story of the week was of a young man who woke up from an 11-year coma to find out that his favorite tennis star, Roger Federer, was still playing at the top of his game. In 2004, Jesus Aparicio was celebrating his 18th birthday when he got into a serious car crash that put him into a coma. Now, fast-forward to August 27 2015 and Jesus finally wakes up.
‘It came like a flash to my mind and I asked about Roger. I thought he had retired. When I heard that he reached 17 slam titles, I put my hands on my face.’
Before Jesus’ car crash in late 2004, Roger had won only 4 of his 17 grand slam titles. Jesus even also got to watch his favorite player duel it out with Novak Djokovic during the US Open final.
‘I want to see his match before he reties, perhaps his 18th slam.’
Looking Ahead: ATP Previews of Metz and St. Petersburg
By Mike McIntyre
With the US Open and the Davis Cup semi-finals now behind us it will be up to the men's tournaments in Metz, France and St. Petersburg, Russia to help avoid the equivalent of a tennis hangover. Both events are level 250 tournaments which do not usually provide the Djokovic's and Federer's of the tennis world, but both of these draws show plenty of promise that should maintain the interest of true tennis fans.
Stan "The Man" Wawrinka is the top seed in Metz and brings an impressive 41-13 record into the tournament and a recent semi-final appearance at the US Open. Wawrinka is one of four players to receive a first round bye and will face either Dustin Brown or Rajeev Ram in his first match.
German Philipp Kohlschreiber is the toughest opponent for Warinka in his quarter of the draw. Stan has won both career meetings between the two players with both coming back in 2008.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is the 3rd seed and one of six French men (excluding qualifiers) in the draw. He has won the event twice, in 2011 and 2012, and I would not be the least bit surprised if he added to that total here this year. Tsonga has a favourable draw prior to potentially seeing Wawrinka in the semifinals and historically has had success as well this time of year.
In the bottom half of the draw Gilles Simon is the second seed. Hopefully by now he has forgotten about how he let Donald Young come back from a two sets deficit at the US Open in their opening round encounter and is ready to produce in front of the French fans. Simon has some tricky names floating in his section of the draw such as veteran Fernando Verdasco, 18 year old young-gun Alex Zverev and the big serving and mojo stealing Gilles Muller as well. Simon won here in 2010 and 2013 which should bode well for the world No. 10.
Finally, 4th seeded Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is perhaps the least known quantity among the top ranked players in the draw. Ranked 31st in the world (career best 23rd back in 2011), Garcia Lopez has a 25-18 record so far this season. He will likely face a tricky Sergiy Stakhovsky after his opening round bye and then could deal with Canadian No. 2 Vasek Pospisil. This quarter is clearly the one where an upset is most likely.
One thing we know for sure in Metz is that the tournament will have a new champion this year as David Goffin (just off a Davis Cup win vs Argentina) is not entered in the draw.
Tomas Berdych provides the star-power as the number one seed at this event. First round bye's have also been awarded to the top-four players here and the Czech could face either Andrey Rublev or Simone Bolelli in his first match. Young Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis is present in the top quarter along with the seventh seeded Joao Sousa.
Dominic Thiem is the 3rd seed and also in the top-half of the draw in St. Petersburg. He will face either Daniel Gimeno-Traver or the recently married Andreas Haider-Maurer who, like Thiem, is also Austrian. Thiem could see 8th seeded Mikhail Kukushkin in the quarters.
In the bottom half of the draw, Canadian missile Milos Raonic will see if he can salvage something of an injury-induced season to forget. Raonic will see wildcard Evgeny Donskoy or a qualifier in the second round. His quarter of the draw is stacked with names that would have carried some fear about ten years ago such as Tommy Robredo, Mikhail Youzhny and Marcos Bagdatis as well as the always enigmatic Ernests Gulbis. Youzhny won this event in 2004 and is here thanks to a wildcard while Gulbis was crowned champion the last year the tourney was held in 2013.
In the other bottom-half quarter of the draw you can find 4th seeded Roberto Bautista Agut and tricky 6th seed Benoit Paire.
This draw has a fun mix of characters and if I was traveling to either event this week I think I'd probably make the trip to Russia over France. If I were a betting man I would also check out some fantastic tennis odds updates 24/7.
Enjoy the smaller venue tennis as we start the final portion of the ATP calendar and gear-up for the Shanghai and Paris Masters which are held in October.
Great Britain and Belgium to Meet in Davis Cup Finals
By Mike McIntyre
While it's not quite at the "Robert Vinci in the US Open finals" level of shocking, the fact that Great Britain and Belgium have moved on to the Davis Cup Finals is quite a surprise. When Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka decided not to play for Switzerland in the opening round of 2015 we knew that there would be a different champion at the end of this season. Banking on either Great Britain or Belgium to be that country was a long shot for any knowledgeable tennis fan however.
The Brits can thank Andy Murray once again for playing the role of hero to their nation. After winning Olympic Gold and the US Open in 2012 and then Wimbledon in 2013, Murray has been relatively quiet on the ATP Tour but now has a unique opportunity to add Davis Cup champion to his resume.
Playing in Scotland against Australia in the semi-finals, Murray had to win twice in singles and once in a marathon five-set doubles match in order to secure the victory. The Aussies had more depth than the Brits with capable youngsters in Bernard Tomic and Thanasi Kokkinasis as well as veteran Sam Groth and the ultimate warrior in Lleyton Hewitt at their disposal. It was certainly the doubles match that Andy and his brother Jamie won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4 against Groth and Hewitt that made the difference. Poor Dan Evans, ranked 300th in the world, could not get a victory in either of his two matches (the last one being a dead rubber) but must still feel great to be a part of the advancing British squad.
In the other semi-finals, the surprising nation of Belgium squared-off against the 4th ranked Argentina. Having home-court advantage in Brussels helped the 8th seeded hosts come back from a two to one deficit against the Argentinians. Kudos to David Goffin and then Steve Darvis who won the final two singles matches to defeat their opponents with their backs up against the wall. Goffin knocked-off Diego Schwartzman in straight sets while Darcis needed four to defeat Federico Delbonis.
The Davis Cup Finals will now take place from November 27th to the 29th in Belgium. While the Brits have the star power in Murray, Belgium has proved that their young depth is capable and content to play the role of spoiler. Neither nation is accustomed to Davis Cup glory, as the Brits have not won since 1936 and the best result for Belgium was as runner-up in 1904.
For those living in nations other than Belgium and Great Britain and looking for some Davis Cup news for their home country, the 2016 Davis Cup draw ceremony will be Wednesday September 23rd at 10pm GMT.
Donald “The Comeback Kid” Young
By Tia Ko
Comeback #1: The nickname began when Young, a 26-year-old American, was down two sets to love to the 11th seeded Gilles Simon in the first round of this US Open. No one could have imagined that the 68th ranked player would turn the match on its head by winning the next three sets 2-6 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-4. It was one of the first major upsets of the tournament and the beginning of a fantastic week for Young.
Comeback #2: Young’s second round match had him against Aljaz Bedene of Great Britain who is ranked slightly higher coming in at 57. Again, Young had a slow start winning only 58% of his first serves and 29% of his second serves along with a high ratio of unforced errors to winners resulting in a loss of the first set 3-6. The American wasn’t giving up anytime soon and gradually improved his serving stats to came back and win the last three sets with a final score of 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-2.
Comeback #3: The Chicago native who was trying to reach his best ever slam result was down two sets to start off his match against the 22nd seed Viktor Troicki of Serbia. The second set was a bagel set and I wasn’t expecting the third to be much different. Troicki looked fantastic out there; he was dominating Young’s serves and managed to convert 5/7 break points in the first two sets. Oh how I was wrong! The third set saw Young improve his serve dramatically and it gave him the ability to make plays up at the net where he was 16/20. He won the third in a tiebreak.
“Honestly, those two sets were over. I just kind of had to keep feeling. I felt like I was in the first set. Even though I lost 6-0, I had game points in the games. I felt like I still had more to give.”
Young won the final two sets and the match 4-6 0-6 7-6 6-2 6-4.
Now that Eugenie Bouchard has pulled out of the doubles and mixed doubles after a fall in the locker room, Young is the only player still in each of the three events. He’s into the fourth round of singles versus 5th seeded Stan Wawrinka, the third round of doubles with his partner Michael Russell where the pair with square off against two fellow Americans Steve Johnson and Sam Querry, and finally him and his mixed doubles partner Taylor Townsend are into the second round facing Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot.
Friday Third Round U.S. Open Preview
By Tia Ko
Two easy rounds into the U.S. Open sees top ranked Novak Djokovic take on Andreas Seppi (25) in the third round this afternoon. Djokovic beat Andreas Haider-Maurer in straight sets on Wednesday night 6-4 6-1 6-2 while it took Seppi four to come out with a win over Teymuraz Gabashvili 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-1 to make it to the last 32.
Djokovic has spent little time on the court so far, playing for a mere two hours and 39 minutes in total. His first match versus Brazilian Joao Souza lasted only one hour and eight minutes and was just one game shy in each set of being a triple bagel match with a score of 6-1 6-1 6-1.
Head-to-head, Seppi hasn’t been able to take a single match from the world number one in ten meetings. Their last match was more than two years ago during the quarterfinals at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships back in 2013 where Djokovic quickly won 6-0 6-3.
Will Seppi be able to pull off another huge upset in round three of a Grand Slam (think back to the Australian Open this past January) and improve his record versus Novak to 1-10?
We’ll also see both of the Williams sisters in action today when Venus plays the young and vibrant Swiss teen Belinda Bencic who made headlines earlier this week for her heated exchange with the umpire during her second round match. Bencic is ranked at a career-high number 12 and will likely have a tough match playing on Arthur Ashe against the American veteran.
Serena will be playing the first night match tonight against fellow countrywoman Bethanie Mattek-Sands who is more known for playing doubles and will be playing her first third round match ever at the U.S. Open as a singles player. Serena, of course, is on route to make history by completing the calendar slam and she’s currently all the rage in the media. For the first time in history, the U.S. Open women’s final sold out faster than the men’s final; I think everyone wants to witness a piece of history that Serena Williams is writing!
The last match on Arthur Ashe will be a battle between Spaniard Rafael Nadal (8) and Fabio Fognini (32). The two have met three times this year: Fognini won twice in Rio De Janeiro and Barcelona but Nadal won the most recent encounter during the final in Hamburg. Nadal is 2-0 against the Italian on hard court.
Champion in 2010 and 2013, Nadal improved his record to 22-1 in his last 23 matches at the US Open.
U.S. Open Favourites
The fourth and the last Grand Slam event of the year is just round the corner, and exciting matches are bound to happen. According to TonyBet bookie some favourites are very clear, but as last year’s U.S. Open has shown, a dark-horse win can always happen. Here’s the top 3 leading players in our opinion – both at men’s and women’s courts – and the extra potential dark horses to watch out for.
1. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is firmly at the top of the ATP rankings. The world‘s no. 1 has already triumphed in two Grand Slam events this years – the Australian Open and Wimbledon – and went through to the finals in French Open. Even with these results, he lost to Roger Federer in Cincinnati and before that, to Andy Murray at the Canadian Masters 1000 in Montreal, both times playing in the finals. This shows he can be beaten – but he may also be saving up his best form for the US Open.
2. Roger Federer
While Roger Federer hasn‘t had as impressive a year as Djokovic, he still did well in the previous Grand Slam events, climbing up from a third round showing at the Australian Open, to the quarter-finals in the French Open, to the final at Wimbledon. The Swiss legend has been named the 2nd seed and while he lost again to Djokovic in the finals of Wimbledon, Federer then beat him in Cincinnati, along with a win against Murray in the semis. He seems to be in a brilliant form and definitely has good chances at winning.
3. Andy Murray
The world‘s no. 3 won the US Open in 2012, but hasn‘t gone further than the quarter-finals ever since. Murray started the 2015 majors going to the finals at the Australian Open, followed by making it to the semi-finals at both the French Open and Wimbledon. He has managed to beat one of his main contenders, Djokovic, in Montreal, but afterwards lost to Federer in the semi-final in Cincinnati. Still, he is able to win the championship if he‘s in a good form.
The Dark Horse: Grigor Dimitrov
For a good chunk of promising players it would be quite a jump to dominate the US Open, however, Grigor Dimitrov looks like the one who just might be able to do it. Although it‘s admittedly unlikely that the world‘s No. 17 would become the champion, his recent loss against Murray actually revealed that he’s in a good enough form and what’s lacking is mostly in his mental game. Dimitrov has competed in all the Grand Slams this year, going out in the 4th round in Australia, 1st round at the French and 3rd at Wimbledon.
1. Serena Williams
The phrase “Serena Williams is the only real contender to Serena Williams” is quickly becoming a big cliché in the tennis world. The world’s no. 1 is in absolutely amazing form, having already won three of the major titles this year and is going for a calendar year Grand Slam. Besides, she’s already won the U.S. Open 6 times, and she’s a three-time defending champion. By now, it’s going to be far more surprising if Williams doesn’t win rather than if she does.
2. Victoria Azarenka
The Belarusian is a former no. 1 and current 20th seed. She has made it to the U.S. Open finals twice and to the quarter finals last year. Victoria Azarenka‘s 2015 season is looking very solid so far, and even though Williams looks unbeatable, Azarenka is the one tennis player that could challenge the no.1 - if she‘s in a good form. Even with her left thigh injury that had her retire in Cincinnati, Azarenka should be able to play some world-class tennis.
3. Simona Halep
Simona Halep hasn’t yet won a Grand Slam title, but after Serena she has been the most dominant player on hardcourts in 2015. Her hardcourt record of 33-5 this season proves that she is clearly at ease on the surface. Though her Grand Slam record has been suspect this year – quarter-finals in Australia, second round at the French and first round at Wimbledon – she has been on fire this summer and is a very deserving world No. 2 and perhaps the biggest threat to Serena’s calendar year Grand Slam.
The Dark Horse: Belinda Bencic
The world‘s no. 12 is only 18 years old – and yet she managed to beat Serena Williams in Toronto on a mere two weeks ago. Overcoming the world’s no. 1 on an extremely good year – even though it wasn’t in a Grand Slam event – shows that Bencic definitely has the potential to be the next big name in tennis. However, in Cincinnati she had to retire with a right wrist injury. If that doesn’t prevent her from being is a good shape, Bencic should be able to shake up the tennis world some more at the Open.
The first round of the U.S. Open 2015 starts on Monday, August 31st, and the championship will conclude on September 13th. Marin Cilic is the defending champion in the men’s singles, while Serena Williams is the three-time defending champion in women’s singles. Together, the participating tennis players will share more than 40 million US dollars in prize money but only two will have their names etched on that epic silver trophy.
U.S. Open Main Draws Revealed
The main draws for the 2015 U.S. Open were released this afternoon for both the ATP and WTA Tour's. Have a look at the links below. We will be posting our annual preview later on today so please be sure to check back with us at ProTennisFan.
U.S. Open 2015 Qualifying Draws
By Mike McIntyre
The qualifying draws for the 2015 U.S. Open were released on Monday and will allow 16 players on both the ATP and WTA Tour's access to the main draw. Play begins on Tuesday August 25th at Flushing Meadows with 128 participants on both sides. Players must win three matches in order to advance. Here are the two qualifying draws for you to check out:
Simona Halep vs Belinda Bencic in Rogers Cup Final
By Mike McIntyre
Even though Serena Williams has not advanced to her third straight Rogers Cup final in Toronto this year, tennis fans should be in for a treat in the match-up between No. 2 seeded Simona Halep of Romanian and 18 year old rising WTA star Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.
While Halep leads their career head-to-head by a meager 1-0 margin, I would give each player an even shot of hoisting the trophy here at the Aviva Centre today. That prior encounter was on the grass of Wimbledon a year ago and the conditions today and the events that have led both players to this moment are entirely different.
Halep came into the tournament this year on a slump that lasted through the clay and grass court seasons. A little time off back home in Romanian has done wonders for her game apparently as she is back to her early season form where she won Indian Wells. Halep has amassed a 29-3 record on hardcourts up to today.
Bencic for her part served notice on the grass of Eastbourne that she was indeed one of the WTA Tour's rising stars. There she claimed her first tournament victory and she has been on fire this week knocking off players she grew up admiring like Ana Ivanovic and of course Serena Williams last night.
Here are a few of our better pictures of the two finalists as their big moment in Toronto nears.
Serena Williams Weighs-in on Drake's Tennis Skills
By Mike McIntyre
After Serena Williams' 6-4, 6-3 quarterfinal victory Friday night against Robert Vinci at the Rogers Cup, the world No. 1 seemed to be in a pretty decent mood in her post-match press conference in Toronto. For the second night in-a-row Serena's friend and Canadian superstar Drake was in attendance courtside. After my colleague David Li asked Serena about what his support meant to her I decided to wade in a little further with a playful question about his tennis skills.
"Yeah, we actually hit several times," Serena revealed. "He's really a good player. He said he played tennis when he was younger. I thought, really, of all sports. So he's always kind of been into tennis. So we hit a lot. Not a lot. But we used to hit a lot. Yeah, he's really good."
Drake rocking a Blue Jays jersey of course. Photo cred David Li
Serena then continued with a comment that brought both her and the entire media room down with laughter when she revealed, "He says he can take me lefty, which (rolls eyes) gets me charged up."
The eye roll from Serena. Photo cred Bob McIntyre
Probably the most animated I've seen Serena in my eight years of covering the Rogers Cup. Photo cred Bob McIntyre
Seizing this rare opportunity when an athlete is letting their guard down and giving a glimpse into their sense of humor, I then asked her whether Drake would make a better tennis player or herself a better rapper.
"Oh, man. I guess that's the start of another question. You know, that's a good question, because tennis takes a lot of years of skill and of, you know, practice." I could sense the playful dig towards Drake's profession forthcoming. Serena then continued, "I'm not saying rap doesn't, but I don't know. Rap, you gotta like think off the spot and do all this other stuff. So I don't know. Let's just say I'm doing the right thing and I think he's doing the right thing."
I guess we'll call it a draw on that one.
Here is the audio from the Press Conference for those who wanted to have a listen.
Thursday at the Rogers Cup in Pictures
By Mike McIntyre
Thursday at the Rogers Cup saw the singles field reduced to its final eight players as the tournament begins to feel much smaller as it nears completion. While all of the matches saw the higher ranked player prevail that did not necessarily mean that the results went according to predictions.
Former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka had previously won seven or eight matches against 15th seeded Sara Errani including the last six matches in-a-row without dropping a set. It was the Italian who prevailed however with a 7-5, 6-3 scoreline.
Here are some of the best pictures we took from third round action at the Aviva Centre. Enjoy!
First of all I just have to say that the practice courts of any tournament are often a gold mine for tennis fans. Not only can you simultaneously see players like Azarenka, Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki side-by-side but you can also catch the athletes in a less structured setting which often produces some unique moments. They let their guard down and give us a glimpse into their personalities. Case in point, the few photos I took below between Wozniacki and Flavia Pennetta as the two discuss the tabloid tennis moment between Nick Kyrgios and Stan Wawrinka from Wednesday night in Montreal.
I was sitting court side and could hear Wozniacki delivering the scoop of Kyrgios' controversial comments to her practice partner Pennetta.
Here is Pennetta's reaction as Wozniacki looks to her coach for confirmation on the story.
Pennetta then told Wozniacki an equally shocking story between two other players that garnered this beauty of a reaction from the Dane.
Still couldn't contain the laughter when she went back to practice.
Venus Williams is still in Toronto working on her game in practice but seems to have an uncomfortable issue with her right elbow.
Alize Cornet tries to avoid a throng of LEGO reporters
Azarenka leaving the practice courts. I guess the pressure got to her!
World No. 1 Serena Williams with her Coach Patrick Mouratoglou (who now follows me on Twitter thanks to these pictures)
Lots to smile about if you're Serena these days.
Although even she has some frustrating moments on the court.
Always checking those nails!
Turning towards the actual matches now, here is 20 year old Carina Witthoeft whose solid run ended at the hands of Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 6-4.
I spoke with the young German the day before and she mentioned that still needs to work on her "mental strengths."
Alize Cornet also stumbled despite being up a break in the 3rd vs Aga Radwanska.
Radwanska was rocking "the dress" of the tournament again yesterday.
She said she likes others players reactions including some who said, "Don't go on court with that."
Sara Errani looking super-focused as she walks onto Centre Court. Photo cred Bob McIntyre
Sometimes it's just not your day. Photo cred Bob McIntyre
When asked, Vika says the best DJ's can be found in Vegas. That was an actual question.
Big serving German Sabine Lisicki had a match point but could not beat 18 year old Belinda Bencic
I asked Bencic if it helped her to sometimes introduce her racquet to the court. Here she is being scolded for it by the chair umpire.
Here she is celebrating the victory with her team as she leaves the court.
No. 2 seed Simona Halep is rediscovering her confidence. Into the QF after tough 3 set win vs Angelique Kerber. Photo cred Bob McIntyre.
Kerber's streak ended after 7 wins in-a-row on the WTA Tour. Photo cred Bob McIntyre
An intense Halep. Photo cred Bob McIntyre.
Now that's a warm-up jacket. Photo cred Bob McIntyre
Even the pros have brain cramps. Photo cred Bob McIntyre
Andrea Petkovic could not match Serena. Went down 6-3, 6-2. Photo cred Bob McIntyre
None other than Drake was in attendance to watch Serena cruise to victory.
Not often you see both players smiling at the end of the match. Photo cred Bob McIntyre
Quarterfinal action gets going at 1pm on Friday with Radwanska vs Halep, Tsurenko vs Errani, Serena vs Vinci and Bencic vs Ivanovic. Check back with us later for another recap in photos from the Rogers Cup and follow us on Twitter for regular updates.
Wednesday at the Rogers Cup in Pictures
By Mike McIntyre
As seems to be the case this year, Serena Williams was waiting for the rest of the field to catch-up to her today at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. As the only player to have already advanced to the third round, the world No. 1 player had the day off. There was still plenty of exciting action at the Aviva Centre on Wednesday and a few upsets as well that is not uncharacteristic at the first big hardcourt event of the summer. Here is a look at some of the big moments from around the grounds as we saw it here at ProTennisFan.
7th seeded Lucie Safarova was up a set and serving for the match at 5-4 when things quickly took a turn in the other direction. Perhaps the Canadian curse that has stuck our singles players this year affected her as well since she is coached by Canadian Rob Steckley.
Safarova was beaten by 40th ranked Daria Gavrilova seen here seemingly suspended in mid-air as she returns serve.
Sometimes it's just not your day. Wimbledon finalist Garbine Muguruza loses in both singles and doubles in her first day of play at the tournament. Here she is sitting outside of the players locker room entrance with her coach deconstructing the day. She didn't look up once in ten minutes.
No. 2 seed Simona Halep got past a tricky opponent in Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 6-4. She'll have her hands full again tomorrow with Angelique Kerber the 13th seed.
A heavy Romanian contingent was on-hand to support Halep. The last time the WTA was in Toronto in 2013 another Romanian - Sorana Cirstea - made the finals. Don't ask what her ranking is now...it's not pretty.
Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic advanced in straight sets and looked pretty pleased about that fact.
Good signage at the Rogers Cup. For liability purposes no doubt.
20 year old Carina Witthoeft will see a rise in the rankings thanks to making her first ever 3rd round at a WTA Premier 5 event (aka the Rogers Cup).
I interviewed Witthoeft later in the day and she revealed that she felt she struggled with regards to her "mental strengths" as evidenced here by her attempt to demolish her racquet.
I am still trying to figure out what Elena Vesnina's Lacoste shirt is supposed to mean. Like she wants to win 6-3, 6-3? Cause 6-0, 6-0 would be even better.
Caroline Wozniacki's version of sorry, not sorry. When you hit your opponent by "accident."
Poor Muguruza, she couldn't even get her sunscreen right today.
Dominika Cibulkova is the Zoolander of tennis faces. Always a different look, like in this one with doubles partner Belinda Bencic.
She can also hammer a pretty mean tennis ball.
Francoise Abanda looking fierce in a doubles win on the Grandstand Court.
I don't usually weigh-in on fashion, but Aga Radwanska looked like she was ready to hit the town in her night match Wednesday.
And here's another one, just cause.
Thursday will see a return to action by Serena Williams who plays in the first match of the evening session at 7pm against Andrea Petkovic the 16th seed. Martina Hingis will also be playing at night as half of the No. 1 doubles team in the world alongside her partner Sania Mirza. Check back with us soon for more photos from Toronto and feel free to follow us on Twitter as well.
Tuesday at the Rogers Cup in Pictures
By Mike McIntyre
With play all but rained out on opening day of the main draw at the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Monday, all of the courts at the Aviva Centre were packed on Tuesday as the tournament tried to get back on schedule. Tennis fans got to see some of the best talents on the WTA Tour including the return of 2013 Toronto champion and world No. 1 Serena Williams, Canadian content in the form of Francoise Abanda, Carol Zhao and of course Genie Bouchard, and a host of other players that we will share with you in some of our best photos below.
The newly named Aviva Centre and poster child Genie Bouchard greet fans as they arrive on site.
Serena Williams on the practice court ahead of her first match. It's all good.
Coach Patrick Mouratoglou having a laugh at the expense of Serena's backhand.
Always important to make sure your nails look good on court. Federer does this all the time too.
Serena's hitting partner was getting frustrated with his play. Dude it's ok - she's a legend.
Many feel that Victoria Azarenka could be Serena's biggest challenge. She tweeted this pic of mine to her fans. I'm sure she'll give me credit one day!
Azarenka is currently ranked 21st but most consider after injury issues she's still top 10 material
Today she took out Elina Svitolina in straight sets 6-1, 6-4
Waiving to the two Belarusians hanging out in the bleachers
Qualifier Yanina Wickmayer's intensity in this shot was absent for much of her loss today unfortunately
Carina Witthoeft delivered a mild upset over "You Go Glen" Coco Vandeweghe
Fresh off a tournament win in Standford Sunday, Angelique Kerber was ready to rock in Toronto
She defeated Misaki Doi easily 6-0, 6-1. Ouch!
Monica Puig practicing her Superwoman look here as she leapt into the second round.
Now back to Serena who took the court mid afternoon against an opponent she was 6-0 against
Rockin' the neon green like she's Andre Agassi. Serena somehow found herself down a set and a break.
But then this happened.
Followed quickly by this. Serena advances 2-6, 6-3, 6-0.
When I asked her about being the only player left from 2001 still in this event she said she feels, "like a nice vintage wine...getting better with age."
When you try too hard to convince the umpire that it's raining.
Oh there's some rain...oh wait, I mean tears.
Zarina Diyas wins the coolest first name in the tourney IMO
But she doesn't win the match as that honour is taken by Julia Goerges who's slightly happy to move on.
A glimpse into the future of Canadian tennis. Francoise Abanda is only 18 but has loads of talent.
She pushed the 16th seed to three sets but could not close it out after leading 1-0.
Dominika Cibulkova warming up for her night match.
She's got the right mentality for sure.
The first match tonight saw Genie Bouchard make her first appearance on hard courts this summer.
The rust was evident as she lost the opening set 6-0.
She showed flashes of her 2014 self in the 2nd set which she came back to win 7-5.
Her opponent Belinda Bencic saw her grip on the match momentarily spin out of control.
But not for long as the Canadian was handed a 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 defeat.
Lots to ponder from this one as Bouchard tries desperately to salvage something of a difficult year on the WTA Tour.
Serena Williams Rogers Cup WTA All-Access Media Hour
It was a pretty bleak day Monday at the Rogers Cup in Toronto as only one daytime match was able to be completed on both Centre Court and the Grandstand before heavy rains dominated the skies. One bright spot was the WTA All-Access media hour that saw among others Serena Williams stop by to talk to the press. The interview was spontaneously kicked-off by Caroline Wozniacki who was still lingering after doing her own roundtable with the press. See below for a few pics and the entire Q&A with Serena.
Q (from Caroline Wozniacki): So Serena what were you up to last night?
A: I was with you last night! We were just at the Japanese restaurant, just gossiping and talking right?
Q (from Caroline Wozniacki): Yes. Obviously you know I am the coolest person you know, so why is that?
A: Because we’re just alike Caroline, we’re just alike.
Q (from Caroline Wozniacki): Ok I’ll stop with the silly questions.
Q: Is she allowed to tease you like that?
A: She always teases me.
Q: Can you just talk about the friendship that you guys obviously have and how great that is to have a friend on Tour? How important is that for you to kind of to get away from the tennis and relate with somebody that does the same thing as you and have that common bond?
A: It’s really great you know. We just get along excellent. It’s hard when you’re on tour and you get to know everyone and it’s just like you know you have friends and then you have competitors and you know everyone for the most part is just on tour for 12, 11 months out of the year so it’s really cool to have someone that can relate with you and understand everything that you go through.
Q: Is there a specific moment that you know kind of started the friendship between you two?
A: No, no, I mean maybe when she was just a baby, we played an exo in Barbados but that was I don’t know how many years ago, 8 or 9 years ago, and it we’ve been friends ever since.
Q: Serena with the wins piling up and as you go along have you reached a point yet where you start to think about what your legacy will be or what you want it to be?
A: Um yeah, I mean my legacy I always have hoped would be, you know, just someone that was the best that I could be on the court but also the things I’ve done off the court and the different charities that I’ve done and I’ve been involved in so I think for me an being an opportunity to be a good player has been able to help me, been able to help other people too and so I think for me that’s really, really important.
Q: Serena it’s your first tournament this time of year with three Grand Slams behind you, does it feel any different heading into the Open? More pressure, less? More confidence?
A: Yeah uh, it definitely feels different I guess cause I’ve never been in this position in my career. So, but, I just feel like winning the Serena Slam this year, I don’t know, for me it just felt like it took some pressure off because I was able to win four in-a-row and I wasn’t sure I was able to do that again so I feel like you know I can continue - hopefully I can continue - but it took a lot of that off.
Q: Can you give us an update on the right elbow that kept you out of Stanford? Are you know are you 100% going into the Rogers Cup this year?
A: It’s ok. I’m literally going day by day and hopefully it will continue to get better. Just taking it a step at a time.
Q: How long have you been practicing at full tilt coming into Toronto?
A: Um, full tilt, about just probably right when Stanford started. Just trying to get a little more stronger and I wasn’t able to be able to play that tournament - it just wouldn’t have been ready. So we’ll see, hopefully I’ll be able to do well here and hopefully everything will hold up.
Q: So Serena we hear a lot of talk about the Serena Slam but at this point in the season how much are you thinking ahead to the U.S. Open and how much is your attention focused on what’s right in front of you?
A: Well I’m not thinking ahead to the Open right now because I’m right here in Toronto and I haven’t really played on a hard court, match in a while. So I’m thinking - ok I want to get some of this under my belt. And you know, the Open will happen when the Open happens, and I think that’s in about three weeks so you know for me it’s really important to stay in the moment and stay focused and that’s what I’ve always done.
Q: I saw you practicing earlier this morning, how do you feel on the hard courts, just getting out there and feeling the surface and everything?
A: I feel good you know, I definitely feel good on it. This surface I think is slower than other hard courts maybe and the ball bounces higher.
Q: Slower than like, the U.S. Open?
A: Yes, so that actually gives me a better chance to adapt. So it works out well.
Q: And how are you liking coming back to Toronto? You’ve had success the last two times the tournament has been in Toronto. Is it nice to be back in this city?
A: Um yeah it’s great, I’ve had a lot of success here. I think mainly cause I don’t want to leave and I’m like - if I lose then I have to leave - so…I’m like ok, the only thing I know how to do is to win so that I can stay. But yeah, that kind of sums up how much I love this city. Like I never want to leave and I was here last year and this year so, I always have fun here. I seem to always come here.
Q: Is there anything in specific about Toronto or playing in Canada that you particularly enjoy and do you there’s a difference between Canadian tennis fans and fans elsewhere?
A: Well I think, playing in Toronto is…wait you asked me if there’s something I like in Toronto?
Q: Specifically, you say you love coming to Toronto - what is it about the city that you like?
A: Yeah I like the city, I like the restaurants, I like the style, I like the culture, I think it’s like a really cool city. The fans are, I don’t know if they’re different they’re very, very awesome and they’re also really intense which is a great thing, so I feel is the perfect mix.
Q: Serena it’s been a lot of years since very young players like yourself are winning Grand Slams. Is that because you’ve been so dominant or because the sport has changed so dramatically and gotten so much more physical that it takes so much longer for a player to grow into their body and also their maturity?
A: That’s a really good question, I never thought about that. Because if you think about it I’m playing and you know, it was Henin and Clijsters and other players who were winning Grand Slams and we all are a little older and so we maybe we had some more experience to take out the younger players? I don’t know that’s a really good – not just me though, cause I definitely didn’t win all the Grand Slams in the past ten years, Lord knows that – but I’m just saying that actually could be a really good analogy that the players are just stronger and more mentally tough and probably just want to keep winning.
Q: Just to follow that up in terms of longevity how do you account for the fact that you are playing at this very, very high level after all of these years? Is it partly because you’ve had so many diverse interests outside of the sport that you haven’t just had that sort of narrow focus? Do you think that has contributed too?
A: Yeah I feel that I’ve had a lot of different interests outside of the sport, I feel like, you know, I haven’t quite burned myself out. I feel like most of all that every year that goes by I start to love the game more than the previous year and that’s rare you know, so, sometimes when I step out onto that court, mainly especially for matches I just really feel this really incredible like joy and appreciation of being out there and like you know, wow I’m living my dream you know?
Q: I do know, because I think a lot of athletes I’ve covered, the second half of their careers they’ve enjoyed more than the first half because there’s so much pressure on them in the first half and they’ve got to win and there’s ups and downs and you learn from the downs and celebrate the ups but when you have the years behind you, yeah I get you completely. Does that apply to you?
A: Definitely, definitely how it feels. It feels like you know, yeah you have ups and downs and but you learn from that and in the future you just you are able not to make the same mistakes or not have the same pressures and then you almost feel a little more free because it’s like you don’t have to prove anything, so I think that plays a lot into it.
Q: Do you think to some degree you’ve also, and Venus as well, when people used to say you don’t play enough early in your career that you’ve set a new paradigm that you don’t have to play and play and play until you burn out and your career can last longer if you kind of pick your spots along the way.
A: Yeah I think that works for us and you know I really feel like if I had played a lot more tournaments I would be a little more tired but I’ve never been one to play twenty some-odd tournaments a year, you know I’m always in the teens and that actually is high for me and I just, you know, just focus on those and do the best I can in those tournaments. I kind of like pick my spots and then I go from there.
Q: Serena because you’ve been so dominant this year I’m just wondering when you’re on the court against certain opponents are you kind of noticing anything with their games or I guess more from a mental aspect because you’ve had the success that you’ve had, are you noticing anything from your opponents?
A: I feel like every opponent I’ve played has played me really, really hard. I’ve won a lot of matches this year but I’ve also gone a lot of three sets this year so I think these ladies are going as hard as they can and doing the best that they can and every time I go out there I have to really show up and play my A game.
Q: You said you’re getting to a lot of three sets, noticing that they are getting closer, do you have to be on your game to knock these people off?
A: Yeah I think every time I step on the court I really have to be on it or I have to be ready to leave not winning.
Q: Later this week, Justine Henin is being inducted into the Hall of Fame here. I’m just wondering, looking back at the time that you were playing her, like earlier on, has the women’s game changed a little bit since then because she had a different style because she was a little smaller, kind of was more versatile, she would run up to the net and she used her speed. Is the game more about power these days do you think?
A: No I think there’s a lot of versatile players out there. Some power players some really, really, really, really tall players and smaller players so I think it’s a really good mix of pretty much everything.
WTA Rogers Cup Preview 2015
By Mike McIntyre
The tennis world turns its attention towards Canada this week as the summer hardcourt swing kicks into high gear with stops for the men in Montreal and the women in Toronto at the Rogers Cup. Sure there have been tournaments on this surface already in Atlanta, Washington and Stanford on the ATP and WTA Tours, but this is where all of the best players in the world (minus a few injury/Federer withdrawals) are gathered to show who the front-runner will be for the final Grand Slam of the year. Yes, the U.S. Open is only a few weeks away and the winners in Canada's two largest cities will be the first to show they are ready for New York.
ProTennisFan is in Toronto for WTA action and therefore here is our preview for what lies ahead in the Big Smoke.
Serena Williams is the number one seed and also happens to be the last winner of the WTA event in Toronto when it was here in 2013. Serena currently holds all four Grand Slam titles and is clearly not in the sharing mood. If her elbow that kept her out of Stanford this past week is healed-up then she is going to be tough to beat in a city where she is already accustomed to being crowned champion. Serena opens with a first round bye and will then face the winner between Canadian Gabby Dabrowski (gold medalist in doubles at the recent Pan Am Games) and Italian Flavia Pennetta the 16th seed. The road for Serena to claim the title in Toronto is not an easy one. While she owns a 6-0 record against her likely second round opponent Pennetta, she could then face Andrea Petkovic in the 3rd round and either Lucie Safarova or Sam Stosur in the quarter-finals. While she is a combined 21-3 against those last three players, she hasn't played on hardcourts in a while and all of them are capable opponents.
Other players in the top half of the draw to look out for include 4th seeded Caroline Wozniacki who won in Canada in 2010 and 5th seeded Ana Ivanovic who in 2006. Big first round matches in this half of the draw involve the Monday night tilt between big servers Venus Williams and Sabine Lisicki as well as the Tuesday night marquee battle between Canadian No. 1 Genie Bouchard and 18 year old rising star Belinda Bencic. Can Genie turn her season around now that she has dumped coach Sam Sumyk? I wouldn't get my hopes up but it sure would be nice for Genie to get a couple of wins and perhaps a reprieve from the Canadian Press who have been pretty tough on the 21 year old this year.
Without Maria Sharapova (right leg) in the tournament it is up to Simona Halep to carry the number two seed. Her first opponent will be the winner between Caroline Garcia and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic. Halep could get Stanford winner Angelique Kerber next followed by number 6 seed and 2014 champion from Montreal, Aga Radwanska. Wimbledon runner-up Garbine Muguruza is the 8th seed and is also in this half of the draw along with third seed and two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova. The best match in the opening round to check-out in this section is certainly Dominika Cibulkova (QF in 2013, F in 2008) vs Sloane Stephens who just claimed her first WTA title in D.C. at the Citi Open. Lookout for Victoria Azarenka who is unseeded and could face Kvitova in the 2nd round. She is due for a big breakthrough that will finally send her up into the rankings where she belongs.
Tough to predict who we might see standing on semi-final Saturday but I'm going with Serena vs Wozniacki and Azarenka vs Radwanska. I will go so far as to say that I think Azarenka will triumph over Serena for the first time since the summer of 2013 which will set the stage for some nice fodder for the press ahead of the U.S. Open. When you look at players that could potentially deny Serena from winning the calendar year Grand Slam, I think Azarenka leads the pack.
Check back with us daily here at ProTennisFan as we will be providing pictures and analysis for you to enjoy.
Genie Bouchard Ready to Start Fresh at the Rogers Cup
By Mike McIntyre
While Canada's Genie Bouchard may have slipped in the rankings and by her own admission hasn't been quite herself so far in 2015, you'd never know it based on the attention she received in Toronto Friday at the draw ceremony for the Rogers Cup. Bouchard was the face of the tournament presented to the media, corporate sponsors and other special guests at the Hilton Hotel to kick-off the premiere Canadian tennis event of the year. Yes her record has been an abysmal 4-13 on the WTA Tour this season but Canada's tennis hopes on the women's side still begin and end with the 21 year old from Westmount, Quebec.
There has been much for Bouchard to reflect upon so far in 2015
Dressed in a playful striped crop-top and black overalls, Bouchard was all business in addressing the press. She succinctly stated that she had no goals for the event other than, "to have a good performance whether I win or lose." This start from scratch mentality also involved jettisoning her coach Sam Sumyk with whom she had been working since just after the Australian Open in February. Bouchard says she is looking for someone who can help her address, "the technical side, the tactical side, the mental side (and) the physical side" of her game. She continued to say that she needed someone, "who has the experience at the top level and who can help me improve daily." While I'm not sure how many available coaches out there fit that bill, it was positive to hear Bouchard admit that there are many facets of her game that require improvement for her to get back to playing more confident and successful tennis.
Whether that will happen here in Toronto remains to be seen. Bouchard drew a tough first round opponent in Switzerland's Belinda Bencic. The 18 year old Bencic is currently ranked No. 22 in the world (compared with Bouchard who sits at No. 26) and is playing in the doubles finals of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. this weekend before arriving for the Rogers Cup. The match between her and Bouchard will take place Tuesday night at the Aviva Centre in front of a packed house no doubt. Then we will see if Bouchard's fresh start is able to yield the encouraging results that both she and her fans are looking forward to.
The Junior edition of the Genie Army was present Friday to say hello
Keep checking back with us at ProTennisFan for daily updates and analysis from all the action here in Toronto. You can also follow us on Twitter for more regular images and observations.
2015 Rogers Cup Draws
For all those who don't feel like going back and forth between the ATP and WTA websites and/or the two Rogers Cup websites for Montreal and Toronto. Here are the qualifying and main draws for singles competition.
Eugenie Bouchard Parts Ways With Coach Sam Sumyk
By Mike McIntyre
Struggling Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard has split with her coach Sam Sumyk after roughly six months of working together. 'Roughly' would be the appropriate word to describe their time together as the former world No. 5 struggled mightily since uniting with the Frenchman in February of this year. Her record has been an abysmal 4-13 during that short period of time that has witnessed a collapse of Bouchard's on-court game and usually strong mental resolve.
Sumyk was no slouch as a tennis coach, having helmed the ascent of former top ten players Vera Zvonareva and more recently Victoria Azarenka whom he parted ways with earlier this year following the Australian Open. Unfortunately for Sumyk (and Bouchard), he was unable to recreate that type of success with the 21 year old Canadian.
While the coaching change comes as a shock to nobody, the timing of the news is somewhat mystifying. Revealed on Twitter by tennis reporter Matt Cronin, the story surfaces just days before Bouchard is set to take to the court in her country's biggest tennis tournament - the Rogers Cup. While it is possible that Bouchard simply could not see herself continuing any longer with Sumyk, it seems odd to make such a decision while on the cusp of having your national media shine a spotlight on you for the week. Rather than coming in with lower expectations and perhaps reduced attention from the press - as she had a year ago following her runner-up result at Wimbledon - Bouchard will now certainly face a barrage of questions related to the coaching move. Did somebody say distraction?
While Bouchard arrived in Toronto late Thursday night, she will be front and centre Friday afternoon at the Hilton Hotel downtown where she will be the WTA player representative present for the selection of the Rogers Cup singles draw. Previously it had been announced that Maria Sharapova would fulfill that role, but that was suddenly changed without explanation a day ago to Bouchard. One would think that initially Bouchard would have been the logical choice to be at the draw ceremony. Despite her struggles she is still at the moment Canada's best and only viable hope of winning the tournament. Regardless of these logistics, as it stands now it will be Bouchard on the hot seat Friday and hopefully she will be able to shed more details on this breaking situation.
Ultimately our judgment on the dismissal of Sumyk will have to be made at the end of the current season. While Bouchard still has pretty much all of the hardcourt swing ahead of her, it will not be as simple as flicking a switch to rediscover her form from 2014. Many questions still linger and the most important of those perhaps is the state of her health following this past week's withdrawal from the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. due to a lingering abdominal injury.
Check back with us later in the day for full coverage of the Rogers Cup draw ceremony along with reaction from Bouchard herself on what has finally prompted her to move in another coaching direction and why she felt compelled to make that decision now.
Milos and Genie Let Fans Get Closer in Toronto
By Mike McIntyre
What better way to spend a sunny afternoon along the waterfront in Toronto than watching Canada's two tennis stars Milos Raonic and Genie Bouchard conducting a clinic for kids on a makeshift barge sitting on Lake Ontario?
Both coming off disappointing results at Wimbledon where injuries limited their effectiveness, the twenty-something King and Queen of Canadian tennis were all smiles while they encouraged the next generation of tennis stars in their home country. Hitting with the kids was something both players seemed to genuinely enjoy and it sure makes one appreciate how fortunate we are in Canada to have these two players engaged in inspiring our youth. Up until just a few years ago there really were no big names for kids in Canada to look up to on the tennis court. With the relatively newfound success of Raonic and Bouchard you can pretty much guarantee that more kids are going to be picking up a racquet and trying their hand at tennis.
Here are some pictures we took today that truly capture the motto for the day - #getcloser
Perfect conditions for tennis on a barge!
The crowd gathers by Lake Ontario in anticipation of Milos and Genie's arrival around noon.
Shortly thereafter the two tennis stars arrived with a typically Canadian sized entourage around them.
Just in case you forgot what country Raonic represented. The players were mic'd up and looked like they were ready to run an aerobics class rather than a tennis clinic.
Hosts for the day were Evanka Osmak and Ken Reid from SportsNet.
Working on her overhead while some happy youngsters look on.
The next Genie?
After hitting with the kids Genie and Milos rallied a little for the crowd.
There were a few rare smiles from Milos today, a player more known for his reserved demeanor on court.
Talk about canoeing in the right place at the right time!
Genie's toss was right where it needed to be today.
And that's a wrap!
Canadian tennis fans will get the chance to see both players when they return to home soil for the Rogers Cup running August 7-16 in Montreal for the men and August 8-16 in Toronto for the women.
Belgium Takes Commanding Lead in Davis Cup Tie Against Canada
By Mike McIntyre
No disrespect to Frank Dancevic or Filip Peliwo, but they are no Milos and Vasek. Asking two players ranked 272nd and 491st respectively in the ATP rankings to win against much more talented and consistent opponents was likely never a realistic prospect. With Dancevic nearing the final years of his professional tennis career and Peliwo still just getting his started it was a tough position for both of them to be in today against Belgium.
Dancevic used to be Canada's go-to singles player. With a career high ranking of 65th in the world back in 2007, Dancevic's sharp serving and keen instincts at the net made Canadian tennis fans hopeful that perhaps he could crack into the top 40 in the world. Since then injuries and inconsistencies have plagued the now 30 year old and his 2015 season has not produced much to write home about. Dancevic is 0-2 in main draw ATP events, 7-5 in ATP qualifying and a mediocre 10-10 at the challenger level. While as recently as a couple of years ago I would have given Frank a good shot at Steve Darcis, there was very little chance of him winning that match as things currently stand. And that's a problem for Team Canada who really needed Frank the Tank to show up today and steal one as he did two years ago vs Marcel Granollers of Spain. Instead Darcis, ranked 76th in the world, would take the match 3-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-3.
Peliwo was brought along to Belgium I'm assuming because a) it would be a great experience for the former junior star and b) Belgium probably didn't know a whole lot about him. Three years removed from winning the Junior Wimbledon crown and Peliwo's rise in the professional ranks has so far been a slow one. It must be tough when he looks at the early career success of Eugenie Bouchard but hopefully Peliwo isn't putting too much pressure on himself to develop at the same rate. Look at the hiccup in Bouchard's career in 2015 and perhaps taking a slower development path isn't such a bad idea for Peliwo. So far this year has seen some success for the 21 year old in the depths of the minor league's of tennis - aka Futures Events. There he has amassed a 15-8 record along with one tournament victory. At the Challenger level Peliwo is 0-2 in main draw event's and 4-3 in qualifying. He has yet to play in any main draw ATP events in 2015 and therefore his match today against world number 14 David Goffin must have seemed like quite the daunting task. Yet Peliwo hung in there for two sets before the more experienced (by three years) Goffin prevailed 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Now Tennis Canada turns to its long standing stalwart in Daniel Nestor, who at the ripe old age of 42 will partner with Davis Cup rookie and comparative youngster at the age of 32, Adil Shamasdin. Ranked 65th in doubles makes Shamasdin a capable partner for Nestor who has seen his own ranking fall to 24th in the world. The two are currently supposed to face the duo of Ruben Bemelmans and Kimmer Coppejans. The match would essentially be a throw-away for the Belgians who would prefer to rest Goffin and Darcis for reverse singles on Sunday where they only require one win. Still, there is the outside chance that Goffin could be subbed-in for Coppejans at the last minute if the Belgians feel there is a legitimate chance they could close out the tie in three straight matches.
Regardless of the outcome on Saturday, Canada will be hard pressed to take one, let alone two, singles matches on Sunday. While tennis fans in Canada love to say, "Anything is Pospisil" I don't think that line applies when you're missing Milos and Vasek. If things play out according to predictions there is certainly no shame for the severely depleted Canadian line-up who gave their best effort on Day 1. They will still remain a fixture in the World Group of Davis Cup and with a healthy roster in 2016 should be expected once more to compete for their first ever Davis Cup Championship.
Djokovic Relentless in Winning Wimbledon
By Mike McIntyre
Novak Djokovic looked every bit like the undisputed number one tennis player in the world on Sunday as he defeated his closest rival Roger Federer in the finals of Wimbledon by a score of 7-6(1), 6-7(10), 6-4, 6-3. Unlike at the French Open last month, Djokovic never waivered in the final match and played at a superior level to Federer throughout the bulk of the encounter. He now owns three Wimbledon titles and has a total of 9 Grand Slam victories to his name.
In the first set things started well for Federer as he found himself with a 4-2 lead after breaking Djokovic in the fifth game. Fed fans surely got their hopes up that this would be a return to Grand Slam glory for their hero who had not won a major since this very event in 2012. Instead, Djokovic immediately broke back to signal his intent to repeat as champion. Federer would find himself with two set points later with Djokovic serving at 5-6, but both times Djokovic redeemed himself with strong serving. The set would eventually be determined in a lopsided tiebreak where Djokovic imposed his will on Federer and claimed the breaker by a score of 7 to 1. Federer double-faulted on set point and it did not leave viewers feeling too optimistic about what was to come.
By 2-2 in the second set the stats showed 16 unforced errors for Fededer compared to a mere 3 for Djokovic. It was clear that Federer would have to reduce those numbers in order to have success. Federer missed two break points at 2-2 and despite holding a first serve percentage over 90% compared with Djokovic who was at 58% midway through the second set, the Swiss ace could not convert on his opponent's second serve. The end of the second set became tense as both players faced break points but could not take advantage. The stress felt by Federer's supporters at this point was mirrored by the strained faces of his coaches Stefan Edberg and Severin Luthi as well as his wife Mirka as they all knew that going down by two sets to none would be an unreversable fate for Federer. In yet another tiebreak Djokovic raced out to a large lead and would have three set points while up 6-3. Federer saved two on his serve including a 27 shot rally at 4-6 that both players put every ounce of their strength into. Federer then miraculously returned a difficult Djokovic serve out wide before leveling the breaker at six apiece. Despite having to face six set points, Federer would ultimately prevail in the tiebreak and take it by a score of 12-10 thanks to a foray into the net that ended with a definitive volley winner. Note to Federer: do this more often!
Djokovic was fuming during the second set changeover as he knew how close he was to taking total control of the match and yet let it slip away. His resolve in the third set seemed even more determined now and there was little Federer could do to reverse the course of what was to unfold. Federer brutally shanked a smash while serving at 1-1 and 40-A to give Djokovic the only break he would need in the third. A 20 minute rain delay a short while later did not allow Federer and his team to come up with anything tangible that he could put into action on the court when the players returned. Both players won every point on serve after the rain delay and thus there was no way for Roger to even come close to breaking back before Novak took the set 6-4.
In the fourth and what turned out to be final set of the match Djokovic would break to go up 3-2 and was nailing shot after shot right on the lines. Federer now seemed to be missing more first serves and I actually believe he started to look a bit tired physically (and perhaps mentally as well) as he realized he was not going to be getting back into the match. Djokovic would break Federer one more time to take the set and the championships 6-3.
The ageless Federer that we watched defeated Andy Murray in straight sets in the semi-finals was not able to show his full capabilities in the final partly due to Djokovic's near flawless tactics. As mentioned, Federer's first serve also did not hold up throughout the four sets, his legendary forehand hit the net more times than he could afford and his dangerous backhand only confounded his opponent on a few occasions.
One area that Roger could have exploited more often during the first two sets in particular was to come into the net which made Djokovic seemingly unsure. The Serb must have attempted a half dozen lobs throughout the match and never was able to even come close to getting it out of Federer's reach. In fact if I were Boris Becker, Novak's coach, the first thing I would be practicing when I returned to the court was the art of the lob. Federer could also have brought Djokovic in towards the middle of the court with some short balls or drop shots. Unfortunately for Roger, he seemed more content to try to keep the rallies going from the baseline which almost always seemed to favor Djokovic. It felt like any rally that went over six or seven shots was going to end up with Djokovic prevailing.
The win evened-up their head-to-head at 20 wins apiece. With Federer soon to be turning 34 and Djokovic still in the prime of his career at age 28 one wonder's how many more times we will be seeing Federer emerge victorious when they meet. Still, the final was entertaining and for the first two sets one that you could not take your eyes off. Djokovic proved that he is without a doubt the Number One player in the world and the toughest grass-court player to face as well at the moment. Roger can take solace perhaps in the fact that he is the biggest contender to Novak at this stage of the season and yet he still seems to be unable to truly push him to the brink. Three years without a Grand Slam for Federer must seem like an eternity but his desire and his ability to contend is still undeniably stronger than most on the ATP Tour. Federer and his fans must now wait until the U.S. Open to try again to recapture former glory, while Djokovic and his team can enjoy the firm grip they hold on the top spot in men's tennis.
Federer Into 10th Wimbledon Final With Vintage Performance Against Murray
By Tia Ko
Roger Federer is advancing to his 10th Wimbledon final after beating Britain’s hometown hero, Andy Murray, in straight sets 7-5, 7-5, 6-4.
Federer when asked about playing Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday said, “It’s great to play Novak anywhere these days. He’s a great player; he’s had great success. He’s an unbelievable player. He’s become very match-tough. He always shows up. It’s tough to beat him. Very injury-free. It’s been good for the game. So for me I don’t really think of the [Wimbledon final] we played last year. I just remember it was unbelievably thrilling. That it is Novak, the world number one, it adds something extra.”
Personally, I’m a huge fan of Roger Federer. I’ve been looking forward to this Wimbledon final rematch since exactly one year ago. From what I have seen this week, Roger is playing better than ever. His serve today was unstoppable and that’s what will be key for when he plays the number one seed.
“I served very well. I served a very good first-serve percentage and I served big. It was one of the best serving days of my career for sure,” said Federer about his serving stats. He landed 76% (69/91) of his first serves in, winning a staggering 84% (58/69) of them! Taking that into consideration makes you wonder how Andy Murray was still so close in each set.
In each of the three sets, Federer was able to break Murray at the perfect time: the last game needed to close the set. Murray won the coin toss but opted to receive instead of serving; that may have been a bad move looking back now because each set began with Roger serving, putting the pressure on Murray to hold.
The first set started with Roger under a bit of pressure facing a break point in the first game. He held with neither players facing another break point until Murray’s last service game to try to bring it to a tiebreak. That’s where Federer was able to force an error from Murray up at the net and win the set 7-5.
The second set saw Murray down 0-40 at 4-5 and Federer with 5 set points. The world number 3 was able hold after a 15-minute game but was ultimately broken in his following service game giving Federer a 2-0 set lead and one away from the Wimbledon final.
The third set was once again on serve until late in the match with Federer up 5-4. Murray was up to serve but Federer’s pressure and precise shot making at the right time caused another break point and Roger’s first match point. On match point, Murray sent a forehand shot long and off to the final Roger goes!
Djokovic defeats Gasquet to advance to 4th Wimbledon Final
By Tia Ko
In the first semi-final of the day Novak Djokovic took only two hours and twenty one minutes to beat the 21st seeded Richard Gasquet 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-4 after serving up a 40-love game and hitting a forehand cross court to finish off the Frenchman.
During the post-match interview, Djokovic was asked if he thinks he’s living the dream having made it to another Grand Slam final. He responded saying, “Yes, I’m living the dream; being here at Wimbledon, I’m playing on the best tennis court in the world. It’s a great honor and privilege to be out there and I have to keep going. The final of Wimbledon is the most watched tennis match in the world of course a lot is at stake but I’ll be ready for it.”
The opening set started off with an early break of serve giving Djokovic a 2-0 lead. Luckily, Gasquet was able to get the break back by firing a backhand winner. Both players held serve until 6-6 but eventually a sloppy tiebreak from Gasquet gave Djokovic the first set. The following two sets started the same with Djokovic easily breaking Gasquet; unfortunately, this time the Frenchman was unable to break back and the world number one ran off winning them 6-4, 6-4 including a love game to end it with triple match point.
Djokovic has improved his net play and movement tremendously with the help of his coach Boris Becker. He would often sneak up as a new part of his game and ended up winning 26 of his 39 trips to the net. The defending champ also broke down Gasquet’s forehand causing many errors from the right side of the court.
When asked who Djokovic thinks he’ll be playing in the final against on Sunday he dodged the question and said, “We will see, I cannot foresee the future but I’ll enjoy [Federer and Murray’s] match.”
In a poll of 216 people, Djokovic was predicted to win with 91% of the votes leaving only 19 people believing in the underdog. I, too, didn’t believe Gasquet had a shot at beating Djokovic; it just didn’t seem possible. Novak is at the top of his game and it will take a genius to beat him in Sunday’s final… Will Roger Federer be the one to do just that?
Pan Am Games Tennis Draws
The Pan Am Games begins today from the Canadian Tennis Centre - aka the Aviva Centre - (formerly Rexall Centre) on the York University Campus of Toronto. See below for the all of the draws: