Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic are the heavy favorites to take home Canadian hardware this afternoon.
Serena, who won Stanford last month, has won 10 straight tennis matches and she’s seeking her 39th career title in this her 53rd final against Australian Samantha Stosur in the Toronto Rogers Cup.
“It was important for me to come in and take charge. I didn’t have anything to lose,” Williams said in her on-court interview after beating No. 4 ranked Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-3 yesterday. “It’s really cool – I came to Toronto just trying to do my best, next thing I know I’m in the final. I haven’t really played that much. I love the Toronto crowd. Maybe it’s something to do with them!
“I just kind of knew I was playing a really, really good player today and I basically had to step up my game or go to Cincinnati.”
Stosur, a former French Open finalist, trumped Aga Radwanka 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. But she has a losing 2-3 record against Serena.
“I’ve had some success against Serena, but we all know what she’s capable of,” said Stosur who is bidding for her 3rd career title. “She’s obviously one of the best players ever in women’s sport. She’s a great champion. And for her to have that lay-off and already win an event and do so well, it’s full credit to her.”
Added Serena on the match with Stosur, “The last time she played, she got the best of me. She definitely has an opportunity to take it all. She’s been playing well. This court suits her game. I have nothing to lose, and I’m happy to have gotten this far. If I take another title that would be great, if not, hey, there’s next week.”
In Montreal, Novak Djokovic eyes his ninth title of the season. Last night the Serb forced Jo-Wilfried Tsonga into submission when leading 6-4, 3-0 the Frenchman retired with a right arm injury.
“I have pain on my arm,” Tsonga said. “I’ve had this since three days. At the end, at 1 0, after that it was really difficult for me to hit the ball well and enough hard. That’s why I took this decision.”
Tsonga says he is still playing to play in Cincinnati, hopeful that a few days of rest will do his arm good. Tsonga was able to give the playbook on Djokovic.
“He plays incredible tennis, but he’s not an alien,” Tsonga said. “In fact, what he does is doing everything better than the others. He doesn’t hit harder, he doesn’t hit the ball earlier. But he’s always there. This is tiring when you play against him. He does not have the best return on the tour. But on every return, he returns well, and he’s always there. So what does it is his consistency, and he has no weaknesses.”
In the final Djokovic will play Mardy Fish who overmatched Janko Tisparevic in straight sets.
“It’s important when you play a player like Mardy to hold your composure, to be patient and wait, wait for the chance on his service games, try to have high percentage of the first serves and stay aggressive,” said Djokovic who is 6-0 lifetime against the American.
“I think these conditions, which are a bit faster, are quite suitable to his style of game. He’s been winning his matches quite comfortably. He’s been serving extremely well. But I think if I return well, as well as I did in the last two matches, I have a good chance.”
The 52-1 Djokovic is trying to become the first man to win a title in his No. 1 debut since Pete Sampras did in 1993 in Hong Kong.
Serena and Stosur are on at 1pm ET followed Djokovic at 3pm ET. Both matches will be televised live by ESPN2.
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