All-Canadian first-round Rogers Cup updates - Canadanewsmedia
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All-Canadian first-round Rogers Cup updates



Rogers Cup

The draw ceremony for the women’s side of the Rogers Cup was held on the 28th floor of the swanky new Hotel X in downtown Toronto on Friday night. Jaws dropped all the way to the ground floor when it was revealed that Canadians Bianca Andreescu and Eugenie Bouchard would be going head-to-head in an improbable first-round match next week.

“Of course,” Andreescu, the world No. 26, said when her opponent was drawn.

Of course, indeed.

There are dozens of international competitors entered into next week’s WTA Tour Premier 5 event at the Aviva Centre in Toronto, and the odds of the two Canadians facing off in their home-country event was about as likely as traffic being clear on the 401. Yet here we are.

An all-Canadian matchup with almost too much intrigue to handle will unfold on Tuesday night on Centre Court with as much hype and fanfare as ever a first-round match can have.

Andreescu, the 19-year-old rising sensation whose magical early season run included her winning her first WTA Tour title at Indian Wells before being derailed by injury the past few months, versus 25-year-old Montrealer Bouchard, the once-upon-a-time superstar and Wimbledon finalist who has seen her star fade mightily in recent years. Two countrymates. One the face of the future of the sport in this country, the other not so much these days.

It should be a doozy.

“That’s a shocker,” Andreescu said, clearly still trying to digest the news of her first-round matchup. “I’m sure there’s going to be a huge crowd that night.”

Tournament organizers surely will be thrilled with how the draw unfolded — and no, they didn’t actually rig the thing. While Andreescu and Bouchard would have lured sizeable crowds on their own, either going deeper than the first round was always going to be far from a sure thing, considering Andreescu will be playing in her first match on tour since the French Open, and Bouchard’s struggles have intensified in recent weeks as she hangs outside the top 100.

Instead, the maple leaf will soar high and at least one of the three Canadians entered into the main draw — Laval, Que., teen Leylah Annie Fernandez is the other — is guaranteed to see the second round.

Andreescu will be eager to get back on to the competitive court after the long layoff due to a right-shoulder injury.

“I know this is a really big step. I’m playing at home, and Rogers Cup is a really big tournament, but I really think I’m ready,” the Mississauga native said.

Andreescu easily handled Bouchard in their lone career meeting on tour, a 6-2, 6-0 drubbing on her way to winning a Challenger title at Newport Beach.


Back-to-back Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka is getting back to having fun again.

So she said in a recent post on social media, the 21-year-old U.S. Open and Australian Open champion expressing via the lengthy post that she was having difficulty with her newfound fame and some mental struggles were also spilling on to the court.

“I felt like I had wanted to explain my mindset up to this point in the season,” said Osaka, the world No. 2 from Japan who gets a first-round bye as the second seed in Toronto. “It was a bit more for me than for anyone else.”


Returning to physical form is one thing, figuring out the mental side is another.

While it’s always a personal journey for players coming back from injuries, it’s expected Andreescu will have to overcome a few common hurdles as she returns to match action following a long layoff due to injury.

“Not so much in their play, in terms of their shots, but it’s more about their decision-making, more about their big-moment readiness,” American tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg said. “Things like knowing what to do on a break point and being sort of up for those big moments in the match. Those are the kinds of things that take a lot of practice and a lot of readiness, repetition. Those are things you can sort of forget how to do pretty quickly when you’re off tour. You see players when they come back and they’re playing well and being competitive in matches, but not being as sharp in the big moments.”

Toronto-based tennis journalist Mike McIntyre said Andreescu has looked good in practice this week, but practice and a real match are two different things.

“To me, a successful tournament for Andreescu would be one where she leaves the court feeling as healthy as she did when she walks out for her first match back,” McIntyre said.


Fans planning to spend the entire day at Aviva Centre on Wednesday will score full value, as 2019 Wimbledon champion and defending Rogers Cup champion Simona Halep of Romania will highlight the day session, followed by three-time Rogers Cup champ and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams of the U.S. in the evening … There is no admission fee this weekend for qualifying … Two-time Wimbledon champion and 2012 Rogers Cup winner Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic announced her withdrawal from the event early Friday due to an arm injury. With that, Serena Williams moved up to become the eighth seed and receives a first-round bye … Sister Venus Williams takes the available spot in the main draw and her now-vacant WTA wild card goes to two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia.

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Specialness of Raptors veterans will help replace Kawhi, Green




The Toronto Raptors didn’t just lose the NBA’s best two-way player, Kawhi Leonard, in the off-season, though that’s all everyone seems to talk about. The defending champions also saw one of the premier two-way role players, Danny Green, head to Los Angeles

Green had a tremendous season for Toronto, shooting a scorching 45.5% on three-pointers (third in the NBA) while also garnering plenty of All-Defensive team votes.

Though he struggled in the playoffs, Green was still a huge contributor toward the success of the team, both on and off of the court.

“He’s very consistent with the things that he’s going to do on the floor,” Marc Gasol told the Toronto Sun.

“He’s very vocal. Very positive. He doesn’t take things personal. He’s a veteran guy who has been around but has come up also through hard times and has been coached hard in his previous years (by Gregg Popovich in San Antonio) and knows what it takes to play at the highest level. And he was very good for us,” Gasol said.

“The general public doesn’t really notice what the other guys (besides Leonard) do (and) Danny’s one of those guys,” said Fred VanVleet.

He’s not flashy, his game isn’t very sexy, but I don’t know what he shot, 45% from three? Something crazy like that, at a high clip, played 80 games, played every night, guarded the best players on the other teams and he’s just solid every night,” VanVleet said. “You know what you’re going to get … (and) just having that experience here – He didn’t do a lot of preaching and teaching, he just was here and (led) by example and we’ll miss that.”

But life must go on. Nobody is singing a woe is me tune in Toronto.

“We don’t have that luxury (to bring back the full championship roster) so we have to find a new approach and a new path to get back there,” VanVleet told a few reporters in the lead-up to opening night.

“Just from a mental approach, there’s no chance for a championship hangover. If we don’t get it done it won’t be because we relaxed … We still have a lot to prove and we want to do it again,” he said.

With Leonard and Green gone there will be opportunities for everyone else to expand their games and their roles. From Pascal Siakam, to Gasol, VanVleet, Norman Powell and OG Anunoby, to Kyle Lowry likely looking more like the guy who averaged over 21 points a game from 2015-17 than the one who dropped to 14.2 a year ago, things are going to change.

“I always say it’s addition by subtraction and it’s great because those guys are going to bring something different than what (was lost),” Gasol said, not meaning it to be insulting in any way to Leonard or Green.

“I think the biggest thing is seeing how we key in offensively without those two guys,” VanVleet said. “Defensively I feel very comfortable … but offensively it can be a little tricky,” he said.

“It’ll take some time to figure it out, but I think having those two guys out is going to be a little bit more opportunity and also a chance to spread it around a little bit.”

Head coach Nick Nurse seems extremely confident with the group that he’s got for a number of reasons.

“I think there’s a specialness to some of these guys. And maybe it’s because they won or whatever, or maybe it’s just who they are,” Nurse said.

“To me, Marc Gasol is a really special player. Like, really special. Kyle Lowry, really special. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam. I mean, there’s a lot of guys. There’s IQ, toughness, competitiveness, skill, fight, that are at levels that, well as a coach you kind of dream about having guys like that,” he said.

“And it shows when the group of them goes out together you see a level of smart basketball. A level of competitiveness and a toughness and those are important things.”

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Bianca Andreescu makes Canadian history by reaching No. 4 in rankings




Bianca Andreescu has become the highest-ranked Canadian tennis player in WTA Tour history.

The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., jumped one spot to No. 4 in the rankings on Monday following a week off.

That pushes her one spot ahead of her career-best No. 5 ranking, which tied a Canadian record set by Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.

Ranked outside the top 150 entering the season, Andreescu rocketed up the rankings with tournament wins at Indian Wells, Calif., and Toronto followed by her first Grand Slam win at the U.S. Open in New York last month.

Andreescu had a 17-match win streak snapped when she lost a quarterfinal match to Naomi Osaka at the China Open earlier this month.

The Canadian is scheduled to return to action at the WTA Finals, which begin on Sunday in Shenzhen, China.

Milos Raonic reached No. 3 in the men’s rankings in 2016, the best ranking achieved by a Canadian man.

On the men’s side, Denis Shapovalov of Richmond Hill, Ont., jumped seven spots to No. 27 after capturing the Stockholm Open on Sunday for his first career ATP Tour title.

Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime is the top Canadian at No. 18.

Raonic has dropped to No. 32.

Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime and Raonic all are entered in the Erste Bank Open this week in Vienna, Austria.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2019.

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Mike Babcock out coached the Bruins




At the beginning of the Maple Leafs 4-3 OT win over the Boston Bruins, I thought it was odd that Mike Babcock had switched Mitch Marner and William Nylander. I worried about how the Leafs were going to keep up with Boston’s depth and not lose out because of it. If only one line was able to produce, and it went up against the Bergeron line, the team wasn’t going to succeed.

Babcock’s solution was much more complicated than rolling four lines and it was brilliant.

Babcock and his coaching staff get an A+ for their effort and creativity last night because they were able to have their best matchup line (Matthews and Marner), while also maximizing Nylander’s time with the top line. Alex Kerfoot was a man on a mission and showed us that he’s much better at driving play than we thought he was. That goal he scored was fully deserved.

Jason Spezza wasn’t used much, but Frederik Gauthier and his mates killed it last night, they were super impressive. They beat the Bergeron line when they needed to, gave the Leafs positive and energetic minutes against the depth, and allowed Babcock to be super creative with his top-eight forwards.

That careful management and line matching honestly gave the Leafs the win. Without John Tavares — and for half the game Andreas Johnsson — they would not have beaten the Bruins in a normal game.

I’m less worried about the playoffs on Sunday than I was on Saturday.

Oh, and Mike Babcock (and all of you yelling at me) were right about Dmytro Timashov. I was wrong. He’s a fun little bugger.

The Branches

Here is the recap from the game I just talked about. It’s from Seldo so proceed with caution.

During the intermission, Nic Petan was brought up by Elliotte Friedman. The Leafs might be looking for a trade partner here. Gosh, I hope no one has any opinions about this in the comments.

From our friend-enemies at MLHS, the difference between reasonable and ridiculous takes and why you’re at fault for it.

For those who like to “hate watch” things, have fun with O-Dog’s ridiculous takes on… John Tavares?

Update on Andreas Johnsson: nothing broken, but he won’t practice tomorrow. Leafs play the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Bruins again on Monday and Tuesday this week.

From the Marlies, Kasimir Kaskisuo recorded his first shutout of the season in a 2-0 win over the Cleveland Monsters. Darren Archibald got his first as a Marlie and Egor Korshkov scored his fifth goal in five games. The Marlies are 5-0-0 to start the season and remain *perfect* on the penalty kill to start the season.

Captain Morgan?

Just kidding. Freddy Gauthier for Captain.

Branches Around the League

The Tampa Bay Lightning got trampled by three minutes of the Colorado Avalanche, in case you still want to say the Leafs are doomed.

Billie-Jean King is a QUEEN!

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