With so many sad, bad and raving mad stories leading up to the Rio Olympics, let’s take a step back and just concentrate on some feel good patriotic stories happening right now and in our very own back yard. Tennis Canada is hosting the Rogers Cup this week with the women playing in Montreal and the men right here in Toronto. Unfortunately, both tournaments have suffered a little bit with star power as this year it has been sandwiched between Wimbledon and the Olympics. So there is no Serena Williams and the men are missing Andy Murray, Raphael Nadal and we found out that Roger Federer will miss the rest of the year due to injury. Not ideal, but this is a week where we see the glass half full and should be excited about those who are here. Besides #1 ranked Novak Djokovic, you have Canadians Eugenie Bouchard, Milos Raonic and a name you should become familiar with, Denis Shapovalov. Now I know you are used to me providing you with a pronunciation guide but I’ll leave that to the expert himself as he explained to reporters at York University.
‘I’ll explain it. It’s two parts. So first part is Shapo, so ‘hat’ in French [and] then second part is Valov. So if you put it together, Shapo-valov.’
Seems easy enough but don’t forget his first name only has one ‘N’ and misspelling that too is frustrating for the 17-year-old. What isn’t frustrating was having just come off winning the Wimbledon Jr. Singles Championship a few weeks ago and then beating #19 Ranked Nick Kyrgios early this week on his home soil. This was a huge victory and although he lost to #40 Grigor Dimitrov in the second round, the results are encouraging. As with anything, it will take time for the talent to develop but at least he has a model in fellow Canadian Milos Raonic.
Speaking of the Maple Leaf Missile, he is doing well on the court having advanced to the Quarter Finals on Friday. Winning that match would put him on a collision course with Novak Djokovic for a semi-final clash on Saturday. After being the first Canadian male to make it to a grand slam final, this will be a true barometer to see how much he has improved. Despite his on the court success, Raonic is still struggling with his decision to withdraw from the Rio Olympics. As I have said before, tennis isn’t a sport that is needed in the Olympics and besides that, Raonic has represented Canada proudly for many years now and we are in no position to judge him.
From struggling off the court to struggling on the court, Eugenie Bouchard hasn’t had the greatest of successes since she made it to the finals of Wimbledon two years ago. Bouchard has not been able to compete with those at the top level and sometimes hasn’t even escaped the first round of tournaments including the Rogers Cup. This year looked to be no different as she was in tough against Lucie Safarova having to go to a third set tie-breaker. She pulled through though, winning 7-3 and then avenged her loss at this year’s Wimbledon by cruising by Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-0. Unfortunately, she could not make it to the quarter finals as she lost an entertaining match to Kristina Kucova 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
So if you don’t have any plans for this long weekend I strongly suggest checking out the men’s side of tennis as it should be exciting. With high international talent at York University this is one of the few venues that is easily accessible for those of us in the Vaughan area and it would be a shame to miss it.
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