Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Rogers Cup Highlights 2014



Most tennis observers were not completely surprised when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga emerged as the singles champion at the Rogers Cup tennis championships in Toronto last Sunday.


Many factors contributed to his success. From his opening match against a fellow Frenchman, he clawed his way through the competition. He eliminated Edouard Roger-Vasselin in straight sets, a tie-breaker in the first, and 6-1 in the second. As a thirteenth seed in the tournament, he realized that he would likely face the best in the world to win. His second round match against Jeremy Chardy was also a two set affair, and led to his match against the number one player in the world, Novak Djokovic.


Naturally, Djokovic is featured on the cover of the Rogers Cup magazine, along with Roger Federer, Milos Raonic, and Rafael Nadal. Nadal chose not to come to Toronto, recuperating from nagging injuries. Raonic has emerged as Canada’s greatest player ever, and had just won his first big tournament in Washington. Federer, the crafty veteran, was playing in the lower section of the draw, and would not face Tsonga until the final.


                                                                   Gael Monfils
Djokovic had disposed of Gael Monfils in the second round, but with some difficulty. Monfils plays a wild scrappy game, always entertaining. In his comments after the match, Djokovic told me, “Monfils is an unpredictable opponent. At least when I will play Tsonga in my next match, I will know what to expect.”


                                                              Djokovic, after the match.
He did know what to expect, but Tsonga gave him more than he could handle, eliminating Djokovic 6-2, 6-2, in straight sets. Djokovic was asked about his preparation for the match. “Well, I prepared for over two weeks. I played a lot of tennis on the hard courts, and I arrived here early. Sometimes you can find a way to get out of the trouble; sometimes you cannot. Today it wasn’t to be.” And he even smiled, a little, when commenting upon the fact that he had won one, and lost one match since his recent wedding. “Not bad, 50% of success,” he added.


Andy Murray entered the quarter final the easy way, with a walkover from Richerd Gasquet who retired with an abdominal strain. Tsonga won the first set, drilling a serve to the outside line in the tie break. In the second set, Tsonga double faulted when he was at 0-15, hit long to make it 0-40, and lost the set with a net shot. At that point in the match, Murray had won 20 of the previous 22 points, and was steaming along. Tsonga climbed back into the match with a strong power game, and kept Murray slightly off balance, always chasing, hitting long. Tsonga closed the match with a booming ace. 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.


                                                                 Andy Murray
Murray acknowledged that he had some trouble adjusting to the hard surface after five weeks on clay and grass. He said the court was “definitely quicker”, and that Tsonga was “really tough to beat,” and that he was a “great athlete”.


Federer moved through the lower half of the draw to face Tsonga in the final. Federer’s play had improved throughout the week, and the result almost seemed to be a foregone conclusion; however, when Roger stroked a backhand shot into the net, Tsonga realized that he has just won the Rogers Cup, and the $598 000 that goes with the title. Not bad for a week’s work.  


Tsonga became the first player in 12 years to knock off four top ten players in a single Masters 1000 event. He will be a treat to watch next year.


James Hurst


August 12, 2014 

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