Montreal Rogers Cup Day 01: A Walk in the Park
By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin
(August 10, 2015) MONTREAL, Canada – There you are, in the park. Jogging, walking your dog, having a picnic. You are looking at the clouds, daydreaming. But then you hear a regular series of thumps, followed by roars, clapping, yelling. You drop your workout, your Yorkie or your sandwich and head towards the noise. You walk up a few stairs, sit down on a not-so-comfortable metal bench and it hits you: you are watching Andy Murray. Then it’s Rafael Nadal. And now Novak Djokovic. Back-to-back-to-back.
The concept is, they believe, unique. The organizers of the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in Montreal were looking for ways to make the tournament more accessible and reach a new public, one that may not naturally be drawn to tennis. They started by making the Qualifying weekend free. They then added an extra day of free practices on the Friday before the tournament. And a few years ago, in the middle of Jarry Park, one of the biggest public parks in Montreal and where the Uniprix Stadium complex is situated, they built a large set of bleachers overlooking Court 9.
The bleachers sat about a thousand curious onlookers, who can just take a seat and enjoy the show; as the setting actually is outside of the tournament grounds, it is free. On the opening day of this year’s event, the Rogers Cup went all out in their scheduling: after a somewhat unremarkable singles first round match on that court, they switched to doubles with matches featuring Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic. Opportunities to see four of the biggest stars of the sport in front of your own eyes in the same day are rare to start with. But seeing them live without spending a penny? Probably a once-a-lifetime chance.
All afternoon, Court 9 was packed, both on the free and paying sides. A few smart ticket holders actually got away from the never-ending lines by getting off the ground and up in the free seats. Everyone was treated to some pretty good doubles, though it was somewhat singles-oriented. And there might be more of Novak, Andy and Nadal on Court 9 for the rest of the week, as the three of them got through their first rounds.
On the singles side, it was also a walk in the park for most of the favorites. Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils, the only two seeds to complete their first round match, didn’t spend much time on court against their tricky Italian opponents (Seppi and Fognini, respectively). In an all-Spanish affair, Tommy Robredo fought through Feliciano Lopez in three sets, while Ivo Karlovic prevailed in a big-serving battle against Jerry Janowicz, only to face another big server in the second round in home favorite Milos Raonic. Other first round winners included Bernard Tomic, Thomaz Bellucci, Donald Young, Leonardo Mayer, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Sam Querrey and Gilles Muller.
RESULTS – MONDAY, 10 AUGUST 2015
Singles – First Round
 G. Simon (FRA) d A. Seppi (ITA) 62 64
 G. Monfils (FRA) d F. Fognini (ITA) 63 61
T. Bellucci (BRA) d P. Cuevas (URU) 76(4) 46 76(4)
[Q] D. Young (USA) d [Q] D. Kudla (USA) 63 64
L. Mayer (ARG) d [Q] H. Chung (KOR) 63 64
I. Karlovic (CRO) d J. Janowicz (POL) 64 76(6)
S. Stakhovsky (UKR) d [WC] F. Peliwo (CAN) 61 57 62
S. Querrey (USA) d M. Klizan (SVK) 63 63
B. Tomic (AUS) d J. Sousa (POR) 63 63
G. Muller (LUX) d [WC] P. Bester (CAN) 62 63
T. Robredo (ESP) d F. Lopez (ESP) 63 36 63
Doubles – First Round
R. Nadal (ESP) / F. Verdasco (ESP) d T. Berdych (CZE) / J. Sock (USA) 63 57 10-6
A. Murray (GBR) / L. Paes (IND) d K. Anderson (RSA) / J. Chardy (FRA) 63 61
[PR] N. Djokovic (SRB) / J. Tipsarevic (SRB) d A. Seppi (ITA) / V. Troicki (SRB) 64 63