Once again this year the Rogers Cup was an exciting place to be…when the men are in town. Now if only we could get the women to cooperate like this, but that's another story. All the planets seemed to be aligned for the organizers of the tournament in that the top 23 players were all in attendance, the crowds were huge and the weather cooperated. It was a perfect 9 days on the court.
Once again Montreal shattered the record for attendance at one week tournaments topping out at over 184,000 spectators. Much of this has to do with the fact that all the top players were there. Big names such as Carlos Moya and Marat Safin went out early in the tournament due to the highly competitive nature. That was alright as new stars got their time in the spotlight. The biggest hero of the week was probably Canadian Frank Dancevic, who against all odds, made it all the way to the quarter finals only to lose to Rafael Nadal, who's no slouch. Dancevic played inspired tennis defeating Richard Gasguet and Fernando Verdasco before finally losing, but not before he took the world number two player to a third set. Dancevic showed many Canadian kids that it is possible.
The other big hero was tournament winner, 20-year-old Serb Novak Djokovic who defeated world number one player, Roger Federer in the final. He did not have an easy route to the final as he had to beat Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, David Nalbandian and Nicolas Keifer to make it there. It was the first time in history someone had defeated the top three players in one tournament. Federer had a much easier route having to face Radek Stepanek, Lleyton Hewitt, Pablo Fognini and Ivo Karlovic. The highly anticipated final between world number one and number two, Federer vs. Nadal, did not end up happening as Djokovic defeated Nadal in the semis. I do not think that many in attendance at the final game were too disappointed as Djokovic put on quite a show. Two of the sets went to tiebreakers and Djokovic kept his cool in victory finally triumphing 7-6, 2-6, 7-6.
In the doubles portion of the tournament there were some exciting doubles pairings as Rafael Nadal played with Lleyton Hewitt, Roger Federer played with countryman Yves Allegro and Canadian Daniel Nester was paired with his usual partner, Mark Knowles. In the end partners Pavel Vizner of the Czech Republic and Mahesh Bhupathi of India won over Australian Paul Hanley and Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe.
It was great week of high quality tennis with very few low spots. The only time I found myself upset was when crowd favourite American James Blake had to withdraw from the tournament due to an injury. But those things cannot be avoided and it was kept to a minimum. Already it seems as if Toronto is going to live through what we did with the women last year (last minute withdrawals). Well, the organizers have until next July 26, 2008 to figure out how to entice all the top seeded women players to come to Montreal. I have all the confidence in the world in them.