(Note à mes lecteurs habitués de lire ce blog en français : l’anglais est nécessaire pour ce billet, car plusieurs des gens à qui il s’adresse ne parlent pas français. Je ne veux pas leur imposer Google Translate.)
If I had to use only one word to describe this week at Rogers Cup, it would be « great ». Great tennis, great week, great experience, great meetings, great support.
Great experience, great support
As you know, I wasn’t there on my own behalf, but as a correspondent for BA Tennis. Had to answer that question a lot throughout the week: what does « BA » stand for? It stands for Buenos Aires, ergo I was there for this great Argentine website that is BATennis.com, which has been linked for a while in its original Spanish version on the favourites of this page. However, they also have a very good English website that I invite you all to visit if you don’t understand Spanish. Will give you all the data about them at the end of the post.
So they approached me to cover the tournament for them and I had a really great time doing it. We were very fortunate to be accreditated for the tournament, which gave me access to basically everything, from a spot in the press room where I could work to all courts and press conferences, plus backstage material such has having had a chance to get a tour and full explanation of how the Hawk-Eye system works. I even got to be at the red carpet for the players party, which was another first.
As a matter of fact, there were lots of firsts for me last week:
- First time I was accreditated for a tournament
- First time I attended a press conference (Nadal’s pre-tournament press conference)
- First time I was at a red carpet for anything
- First time I asked a question in a presser (to Juan Martín del Potro, and in Spanish)
- First time I approached a player for something work-related (Juan Ignacio Chela to get his greetings for BA Tennis)
- First time I attended a full tournament, from qualies to finals
- First time I really got to see firsthand how important tennis is for people in Argentina (I knew, but hadn’t really experienced it up until last week)
Before I go any further, I have to explain why Argentina, I suppose. A lot of you know me and know I’ve been a fan of Argentine tennis for many, many years. For 12 years now if you want me to be specific. Growing up in a family of hockey and baseball lovers, my contacts with the tennis world as a kid were scarce, but I still followed a little of the greats of the ’80s and particulary the ’90s, such as Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.
However, as I grew up, I became more and more interested in tennis and while in university, I discovered David Nalbandian, who was then just starting his career. Fell in love with his game, and since he was from Argentina, well, I started watching his countrymen as well. Discovered, then and later, and very much liked the likes of Guillermo Coria, Gastón Gaudio, Mariano Zabaleta, etc. So started the love of their game. It never stopped. I just love how they play tennis. Which is why even today, there are a lot of Argentines among my favourite players, starting with the first two of my personal top 5 (namely Delpo and Juan Mónaco).
End of precision.
Three of the four main players bowed out early in the tournament (the other one won it all), but this doesn’t mean the tennis wasn’t good. Rafa Nadal was defeated by an inspired Ivan Dodig, Roger Federer could do nothing against a now back in the top 10 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. As for Andy Murray, if he really disappointed in singles against Kevin Anderson, there is nothing to say against his commitment in doubles with his brother Jamie.
We nevertheless were treated to excellent singles and doubles matches, some really tough to take when a fan (like my second match seen this week, Pico losing to Ivo Karlovic), some simply inspiring (Dodig vs Nadal, second and third sets), some with incredible shotmaking (Gaël Monfils vs Novak Djokovic, among others).
Moreover, having so many top players lose early in the week was compensated by the discovery or rediscovery of very good tennis players such as Ivan Dodig, Gaël Monfils, Alex Bogomolov Jr, and Janko Tisparevic, to name a few.
We were also treated to very good doubles matches, and thus could witness, if we were not busy watching Roger Federer, who was playing at the same time, the 700th win of the Bryan brothers, that they achieved against the Spanish pair of Feliciano López and Fernando Verdasco. I also really enjoyed watching the Murray brothers play together, even though they lost in quarter-finals.
Another part of the fun was, of course, seeing all the pros on the practice courts, especially the ones we never saw in Montréal before, such as Ernests Gulbis, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Bernard Tomic, Pablo Andújar and Pico Mónaco, among others. Watching the young ones (Tomic, Dolgo, Gulbis) in match situation was also something worth noting, as they are the future of the game.
Of course, part of the experience of covering a tournament comes with the people you meet and throughout the last week, I had the chance to meet with several very nice people, some of which became friends throughout the moments we spent together covering the tournament or just enjoying the matches.
I’m thinking here about Jen, Chris, Won-ok, Karen, Nick, Steph, Nida, and a few others.
It was also very nice to spend time with friends like Victo22, Alambert and JBSport during the rain delays, and to work in the same press room as Paul Roux, whose blog I’ve been reading since its beginning, some four years ago, and who had become a kind of mentor to me.
But all great times must come to an end
And so now it’s time to say goodbye to the Rogers Cup and focus on Cincinnati.
I would like to thank, once again, the guys of BA Tennis, Jose and Diego, for having given me this great chance of covering the tournament for them last week. Hard-working people who love their sport and don’t hesitate to share it with everyone. Because of you guys, visiting Argentina is not a dream of mine anymore, it’s a goal. I’ll have to come and thank you at some point, no? 😉 Plus you have real clay court tennis in your country, something I really can’t resist.
For all of you who are interested in knowing more about BA Tennis, you can visit their website (batennis.com), either in Spanish or in English. I also strongly suggest you follow them on Twitter (@BATenniscom) or on Facebook.
And if you’re curious about the work I did for them throughout the week, please visit their Rogers Cup photo album. They chose the best. I’ll post the rest in the course of the week.