Monday, August 13, 2012

Rogers Cup

The Rogers Cup here in Toronto is one of the warm up events on the tour, leading up to the US Open. This year the Men's tournament was here, and the Women's in Montreal, which worked out very nicely for me. I staked out tickets some time ago for the Semi Final day.

The event this year had been plagued with bad luck before it had even began, with the withdrawal of some very big names like Nadal and then Federer. The tournament also suffered from being schedule just a few days after the end of the Olympics in London, and then tennis competition for a medal.

And then to top these factors off, this week has had the worst weather Toronto has had for the Summer. In fact, Thursday was a complete washout, and Friday consisted of both Round 3 matches and the Quarter Finals, meaning several players played twice on that day.

I made the trek out to the site, which is out on the York University campus, taking the subway to Downsview and then a bus. It was raining while I made this trip, and the volunteers were set to work with the blower machines as soon as it stopped, to allow play to get started as soon as possible.

The first match on the main court for the day was between the Frenchman Richard Gasquet and the giant American John Isner. A slight delayed start, and all around me on the very top level there seemed to be stormy looking clouds coming the way of the stadium, but it held off and allowed this match to get going.

Despite the hype and might of the Isner serve, he was ordinary at his returns, and Gasquet owned this match. A good match to watch, with many even rallies, but the Frenchman had it wrapped up in 2 sets, and earned his place in the final.

A couple of hours to kill between the two sessions of the day, I took in the practice courts, the Grandstand Court, and the retail sections. I brought a sweater (look at me, using the North American lingo!), after freezing my way through the last set because of the wind at the top of the stand. Lindt chocolate is one of the sponsors of the tournament, so I scored a free sample, made right there at the little stand.

Just as the time grew closer to take our seats and be ready for the second Semi of the day, the threatened thunderstorm arrived overhead, with belting rain, thunder and full lightening. The whole crowd waited this out in the undercover tiers of the stadium, before it stopped.

The amazing volunteers managed to get the court looking very close to being ready for play again, and the rain started again. Just a shower, it didn't last too long, and then they were back to it, getting the water off the court. This amazingly happened one more time, before the players could come out for the match, which is a tribute to those guys and girls doing all that work, and not giving up!

Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarovic, both from Serbia, took to the court under lights for this match. There were many clusters of Serbians fans all around the stadiums, as the players got serious on court early on.

Janko put up a good fight during the first set against the World Number 2 (although he is ranked 9 himself), but a few errors made him angry at himself come the start of the second set, and Nole just put the foot down, really! An easy ride into the final set for the next day, although not before another rain delay, making this a very late night for the players, and also those spectators who waited it out.

I feel completely warmed up to complete my Slam now, with the US Open at the end of the month. Canada put on a good tournament, with many of the crowd demonstrating the patience that is needed for the love of this sport!

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