Passing shots: Rogers Cup a sweet prelude to the U.S. Open
This week's Rogers Cup in Montreal is one of those rare non-Grand Slam events with enough juice to interest even the most casual tennis fan. Here are five reasons why.
The draw features 18 of the top 20 players in this week's rankings, including the entire top 10. Only No. 12
The Rogers Cup is one of those combined events in which the men's and women's tournaments are held during separate weeks. But unlike tournaments with similar structures like Rome or Dubai, Canada employs a split-site format: Montreal hosts the men and Toronto hosts the women in odd-numbered years, with the venues flip-flopping each season.
This week's men's tournament is the fourth stop on the U.S. Open Series, the six-week string of hard-court events leading up to the season's final Grand Slam.
The last time
But after his stunning loss -- perhaps the upset of the decade on the men's tour given Nadal's outrageous 31-0 career record in Paris and Soderling's checkered history against high-profile opponents -- Nadal sat out 10 weeks to address the nagging tendinitis in his knees. Meanwhile,
Nadal, so dominant in the spring, has steadfastly professed patience to his fans, tempering expectations since arriving in Montreal.
"My only goal is to train hard and play well here," Nadal said. "I know it will be almost impossible [to win]."
Nadal begins singles play Wednesday against the winner of Tuesday's first-round match between
"It is great to be back and I had a lot of fun playing with Francis," Nadal said at a post-match news conference. "A win is a win and doubles is fun and important so I am happy about the way it went today. The atmosphere was great with so many people watching."
Federer is also rejoining the tour after lengthy spell away, but for a completely different reason: paternity leave. His wife,
Federer, who celebrated his 28th birthday Saturday, traveled to Montreal with Mirka and the two girls.
"Mirka was completely cool about coming over here. We did checks to make sure that the babies were going to be fine with the trip and so was Mirka," said Federer, who opens Tuesday with a second-round match against Montreal native
The standard metric for greatness is, of course, the Slams. But the nine Masters Series tournaments are the next most prestigious events on the circuit.
It's almost certain that Federer and Nadal will retire one-and-two on the all-time Masters leaderboard. The only question at this point is which order.
Unusually long periods of stasis had become common atop the rankings. First, Federer held down the No. 1 spot for four-and-a-half years. Later, the top four of Nadal, Federer, Djokovic and
But since then, Murray has moved up to No. 3 (on May 11) and Federer has reclaimed the top ranking (July 7). And one of the more notable sea changes could happen this week: If Murray advances to the semifinals and Nadal loses before the quarters, or if Murray wins the tournament and Nadal loses in the semis, the 22-year-old Scot would pass Nadal and become the first British man to hold the No. 2 ranking. It would mark Nadal's first spell outside the top two since 2005.
But if Monday's return performance is any indicator, what's she waiting for?
Playing her first tour match in 27 months, Clijsters defeated 13th-ranked
Drawing sweeping conclusions from a single match at a non-major tournament is always a tricky proposition. But Clijsters -- who reached No. 1 in August 2003, won the U.S. Open in September 2005, retired abruptly to start a family in May 2007 and gave birth to a daughter in February 2008 -- seemed battle-ready from the start, subduing Bartoli with a formidable, reliable serve and forceful ground game.
Furthermore, the conditions in the upper stratosphere of the women's tour are optimal for a comeback. The closest thing to a dominant force doesn't play frequently enough to be ranked No. 1. Yes,
To presage another Grand Slam victory for Clijsters wouldn't be fair. But she's only 26. It's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility to envision Clijsters in the top five -- and in the hunt for another major -- as soon as 2010.
"I have never been stabbed in my knee with a machette, but I am pretty sure it would feel like it does right know after my injection."
"Bought a book called "In Fed We Trust". Thought it was a new