World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and former and future No. 1 Serena Williams captured the respective men’s and women’s Canadian Open titles (otherwise known as the Rogers Cup) in Montreal and Toronto on Sunday, cementing early favorites status for the US Open in only two weeks time.
Djokovic beat American Mardy Fish 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in the Montreal final, not only upping his win-loss record on the year to 53-1, but winning a record fifth Masters series title in one year, and becoming the first player since Pete Sampras in 1993 to win his debut tournament as the world No. 1.
“I think I was more nervous than in the previous matches today,” Djokovic said after improving to 7-0 career versus Fish. “Well, it was the final. There was a lot of tension going on. It was a very close match. He wanted to win that match as much as I did. That’s why we were quite intense. It was a mental fight, as well.”
While the book on Fish is the failing nerves and crumbling forehand, the American refused to go away after losing the first set, attacking the net opportunistically and ending points with his masterful two-handed backhand. But after missing an easy first volley in the fifth game of the third set, the American wavered and was broken, all Djokovic needed to ride out the win.
“I felt like I had an opportunity today, I really did,” Fish said. “I had a lot of chances in that first set, ended up losing 6-2 early. If you try to forget who you’re playing against, you’re just playing another player, maybe you can figure out a way to get a break or two there.”
It was the first time in five Masters finals this year that the Serb did not face Rafael Nadal. For Fish it was the third consecutive U.S. hardcourt final after winning Atlanta and finishing runner-up in Los Angeles.
Williams won her second consecutive U.S. summer hardcourt title after Stanford, defeating Aussie Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-2, a player she had lost to in their previous meeting.
In only her fourth tournament after missing a year due to injuries and illnesses, the younger Williams sister weathered three-setters earlier in the tournament against China’s Zheng Jie and Czech Lucie Safarova.
“I’m so excited. I never expected to do this well,” Williams said. “I’m just so happy to be playing again, let alone winning. It’s cool.”
Williams also had to also weather the big play of Stosur. Until 4-4 in the first set the Aussie gave just as good as she got with a big forehand and kicking serve that gave Williams problems.
“For me to be able to win, I had to play close to my best tennis. I wasn’t quite at that mark,” Stosur said. “At 4-all I had 40-15 up on serve. You never want to lose serve, but especially being up in the game and holding quite comfortably until that point, it’s very disappointing to lose that.”
It was 10 year ago that Williams won her only other Canadian Open title, beating Jennifer Capriati in the 2001 final. Stosur dropped to 2-9 in career WTA finals.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
SERENA TO LEAD U.S. BACK TO FED CUP WORLD GROUP? — Serena Williams, who hasn’t represented the U.S. in Fed Cup play since 2007, is eager to play next year — since her potential participation in the 2012 Olympics now depends on it. The ITF says that to participate at the Olympics, players must have participated in Fed Cup for their country twice from 2009-12. The U.S. next hosts Belarus on Feb. 4-5 after getting dumped out of the Fed Cup World Group for the first time ever. If the U.S. wins in February, it will advance to the playoff round in April and a chance to rejoin the World Group in 2013. “Serena Williams is one of the best players in the history of our sport, and I’m thrilled that she has committed to play in both of our team’s ties next year,” Fed Cup captain Mary Joe Fernandez said. “Her presence both on the court and off will undoubtedly help our team as we attempt to return to the World Group for 2013.”
Venus Williams pulled from the Rogers Cup in Toronto after being diagnosed with a viral illness, and is also out of Cincy…After her WTA Carlsbad semifinal result, Andrea Petkovic rose to No. 10, the first German to be ranked in the Top 10 since Anke Huber in October 2000…Jimmy Connors prior to being inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame, on the state of U.S. tennis and the USTA not involving him in player development: “It’s kind of a little distressing [having few players in the Top 10]. Back in my era…eight of the Top 10 players were Americans…obviously we’re starving for players, but where do you find the players? A lot of kids come to tennis after football, baseball, basketball, soccer. They find out, ‘Hey, I’d like to try tennis, be a part of tennis.’ But if you come at 16 or 17, it’s too late…[The USTA] made it clear they don’t need me or want me involved…I’ve offered to be a part of it, to do things. Never worked out. If it didn’t work out, that’s fine. I mean, I’ve got other things to do.” (Reportedly part of it “never worked out” had to do with the exorbitant cash Connors asked for to work with the USTA)…Best headline of the week from Canada’s National Post: “Anderson drops a piano on Murray at Rogers Cup”…Rafael Nadal, hindered by a sore foot and a sore throat and mild illness that made him feel weak, lost in the opening-round at Montreal, his first opening-round exit since Rome 2008. “Seriously, I didn’t feel that I played bad,” said Nadal, up a break in the third twice. “In the decisive moments, I didn’t play well. That’s the truth.”…Canadian 17-year-old Eugenie Bouchard looks like a nice player, but she needs to fix that wristy forehand that hits the court and sits up for opponents, the opposite of a heavy forehand…American Bethanie Mattek-Sands pulled from Toronto with a shoulder “tear” and she says she will be good for Cincy? Really?…The WTA Toronto event shelled out some cash for the oldsters on semifinals Saturday, with Chang vs. McEnroe and Agassi vs. Courier mixed in with the women’s semis. That hard to pull people onto the site?…Highlights of Monday play in Cincy include Andy Roddick making his U.S. hardcourt debut after injury vs. German Philipp Kohlschreiber, Alex Dolgopolov vs. Richard Gasquet, American Alexa Glatch vs. Ana Ivanovic, former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero vs. Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, American Ryan Harrison vs. Juan Ignacio Chela, and Kei Nishikori vs. David Nalbandian…Victoria Azarenka had to pull from the Toronto doubles final with a right hand injury…Venus Williams says her next event will be the US Open as she recovers from a virus…On Sunday in Cincy James Blake beat Marcos Baghdatis, and Juan Martin Del Potro won to set up a second-round meeting with Roger Federer.
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