The ads for the 2015 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open boldly touted the STRONGEST, FIELD, like, EVAR, but the winner’s circle was full of familiar faces on Sunday. British right-hander Johanna Konta won her second singles title in three years with a straight sets victory over the top seed, Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, 6-2, 6-4. It was a productive week for the 96th-ranked Konta, who also won the women’s doubles title with American partner Maria Sanchez.
Dudi Sela won his fourth Van Open championship in straight sets over Australian John-Patrick Smith. Sela broke once in each set for a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Smith, who came into the tournament as defending men’s doubles champion with American Austin Krajicek.
Sela accepted the inaugural Vancouver Open men’s trophy in 2005, then repeated in 2008 and 2010. The only other repeat winner on the men’s side is Marcos Baghdatis, who took the title twice, in 2009 and 2014.
Six players on the women’s side were ranked in the top 100 in the world, with quite a few offering impressive resumés. Most notably, Francesca Schiavone came in having won the 2007 French Open, as well as three Fed Cup titles playing for Italy. She lost in the first round, however, to 20-year-old Tunisian Ons Jabeur. A number of other high-profile players bowed out early, such as former number 4 in the world Kimiko Date-Krumm, who stepped aside in first-round qualifying with injury.
Canadians Sharon Fichman and Carol Zhao made the women’s doubles semi-finals, when they lost to eventual champions Konta and Sanchez, 7-6(2), 6-2.
Russell & I trade semi-researched factoids for the second time in short order, getting into John Tortorella’s recent soul searching on Tampa radio. In an attempt to show something reminiscent of range, we stretch into Davis Cup tennis and trade two dozen words in French.
• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• I’m fatigued
• Où sont les pamplemousses?
• John Tortorella is Yoda
• Willie’s ahead of Torts so far
• Davis Cup coming back to UBC
• Daniel Nestor ages not
• Eugenie Bouchard’s legs are all Photoshop
• NHL DOPS: Dmitry Kulikov gets four games
• Time for a Change by the Orchid Highway
Two weeks from now, the Canadian Davis Cup team will take to the courts in Vancouver against Japan, hoping to start a special campaign. With the Swiss duo of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka expected to ease up a bit after finally capturing Davis Cup glory in 2014, the Spanish team largely an unknown commodity, and the French team unpredictable, it appears that the 2015 Davis Cup is somewhat up for grabs. That leaves Canada — healthy, this time around, thank the syrup — with a good chance to duplicate their appearance in the semi-finals two years ago.
There’s this tennis player, see, and she’s playing at the Australian Open this week. She made the final four in the first three Grand Slam tournaments last year, truly a breakout season for the 20-year-old. She even made the final at Wimbledon, where she had previously become the first Canadian to win the junior singles title. Nowadays, she’s ranked number seven in the world, so she’s pretty good at this tennis thing.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could talk about how she overcame a rough first half of her third round match to dominate the #36-ranked French right-hander Caroline Garcia in the second set? We could discuss her steely on-court focus. Let’s break down her solid form on return. Or extoll the fact that she’s parlayed a strong all-around game into five consecutive Grand Slam fourth-round appearances.
Sadly, we can’t. Eugenie Bouchard also happens to be an attractive blonde with a gigawatt smile and a sense of humour. She’s on magazine covers and she tweets about fashion, so Ian Cohen just had to ask her to do a pirouette after her R2 win the other day. The justifiable shit storm to follow has both Channel 7 and Tennis Australia scrambling to deny association with Cohen — if neither the broadcaster nor the athletic body own this guy, why the hell was he doing on-court presentation in the first place? Tourism Australia is livid — they issued a press release stating “It’s completely inappropriate for a Bruce to ask a Shiela to twirl on a tennis court; the correct form is to shout ‘show us your teats’ at the beach.”
It could have been worse guys
Bouchard, for her part, is handling this whole thing better than most, suggesting she’s got that pretty little head of hers screwed on right. When the post-match questions on Friday turned to issues of ‘Twirl-gate’, she sighed, smiled and said, “I was waiting for this.” She followed up by voicing calmly what so many others have been screaming the past few days: “It’s funny…. I’m fine with being asked to twirl, if they ask the guys to… flex their muscles and stuff.”
Last year, after becoming the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam semi in singles play, Bouchard was asked who her dream date would be. Sam Smith, herself a former pro tennis player — and one might observe, a woman — said “I’m sorry but they asked me to say this” — should have refused to ask. Even the preamble was awkwardly sexist. “You’ve got a lot of fans here, most of them male, and they want to know.”
I’d love for someone to come at a male pro athlete post-game, as he’s sweaty and revelling in a win: “Russell Wilson, you’ve just won the Super Bowl — who would you like to snog?”
Is Genie a good-looking woman? You’re darn tootin’ she is. But I’ve shot tennis tournaments before — they’re all Greek gods, every single one of them. Does that make it okay for crotchety old dudes to plant creepy questions about ‘dream dates’, or make borderline crude suggestions that she dance for the nice people? Absolutely fucking not. Bouchard would be justified to go full primal scream on the next idiot who goes that way in a post-match interview.
The Odlum Brown Vancouver Open has announced a schedule change for 2015, moving the region’s biggest tennis tournament to August 15-23. Offering $200K in prize money, it is one of the biggest Challenger competitions on both the men’s ATP and women’s WTA tours. “Up-and-coming Canadian players can now head west right afterwards and come play in the Odlum Brown VanOpen,” says Vancouver Open Tournament Director Ryan Clark, pointing to mid- to late August being a better slot on the tour.
The Vancouver Open got a blast from the past this weekend, as Marcos Baghdatis won his second title at Hollyburn Country Club; the Cyprus native was previously the 2009 VanOpen champion. Currently ranked #105 in the world, Baghdatis came into this week’s play as the top seed and made the most of it, outlasting fourth seed Farrukh Dustov of Uzbekistan to win the 2014 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open, 7-6, 6-3.
Despite being the tournament’s top-ranked player, Baghdatis didn’t make things easy for himself. After needing a late third-set break to get through the first round, he went to tiebreaks in his remaining four matches. Through the first part of Sunday’s final, Baghdatis looked slightly off-balance; he made some remarkable shots under pressure from Dustov’s attack, but during some rallies he seemed lucky just to stay on his feet. He gained momentum once the first-set tiebreak fell his way, jumping out to a 5–2 lead in the second before serving out for the match.
“When you’ve never played the other guy before, he always seems to be more relaxed. He can just come at you, because the pressure’s off,” said Baghdatis after his straight sets victory. “[Dustov] hits the ball very hard, so I just tried to weather the storm, especially at the start.”
Neither man was particularly dominant on serve; each was broken twice in the first set, and Baghdatis offered up just seven aces to Dustov’s five. Coming in at just under two hours, the men’s final finished with most of Centre Court in shadow. It was a welcome relief for the crowd filling the bleachers, as the afternoon had been full of tie-breaks, direct sun and temperatures as high as 30° Celsius.
Baghdatis, whose career best ranking was #8 in the world in 2006, is the second man to win two Vancouver Open singles championships. Dudi Sela of Israel won in 2008 and 2010. On the women’s side, American Ansley Cargill won back-to-back VanOpens in 2005 and 2006.
The Odlum Brown Vancouver Open is an ATP Challenger tournament, offering 100 ranking points to the champion and 60 to the runner-up. For Baghdatis, this probably means jumping back into the top-100 for a while, after several years of injuries and uneven play. For Dustov, it will certainly mean a tick up from his current world ranking of 144.
Earlier on Centre Court, Australian Jarmila Gajdosova overpowered Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine with a come-from-behind women’s final win: 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(3). The pair were fairly close in many statistics by match end; both ladies recorded seven breaks, winning roughly 50% of their service points. Where Tsurenko seemed to — ahem — falter was on her second serve. She double faulted 11 times during the match, compared to just five for the eventual champion Gajdosova.
In the first match of the day, Austin Krajicek (USA) and John-Patrick Smith (Australia) took home the men’s doubles trophy when opponent Marcus Daniell (NZL) double-faulted on match point during the third-set tiebreak, 6-3, 4-6, 10-8.
It was another gorgeous day as qualifying matches wrapped up and the first round began at the 2014 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open. If you have even a passing interest in passing shots, you ought to pony up a few bucks and go enjoy some damned fine tennis at the Hollyburn Country Club in West Vancouver. How fine, you ask? Last year’s men’s singles champ, Vasek Pospisil, went on to win the doubles title at this year’s Wimbledon, for goodness sake.
In first round action on Tuesday, American Asia Muhummad rallied to oust the eighth seed Urszula Radwanska of Poland, 6–7, 6–4, 6–3. Muhammad is ranked #363 in the world, and earned her way into the tournament as a wild card entry, but she used her height advantage and a strong first service game to outlast the heavily favoured Radwanska.
Muhammad now goes on to play the diminutive firebrand from Kazakhstan, Yulia Putintseva, in the second round. Putintseva dispatched Canadian WC Gloria Liang in straight sets on Tuesday, 7-5, 6-3.
North Van’s Filip Peliwo also brought home the boys’ trophy that year, but no one remembers because he’s not a remarkably photogenic blonde woman who has reached the final eight in three consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. This Bouchard gal, on the other hand, is entirely memorable. She may have lost the Wimbledon final, but the Montrealer was by far the biggest story on the women’s side. Her sense of humour is winning as many fans as her rapidly improving on-court arsenal, with everyone from TV nerd Jim Parsons to tennis legend Chris Evert admitting to being a part of Genie’s Army. She can fricking hit the ball, yo.
The 2013 Odlum Brown Vancouver Open ended with as much drama and suspense as you could possibly cram into a three-set match. There were twists. There were turns. There were swizzle sticks. There were sunburns.
Rising Canadian tennis star Vasek Pospisil (@VasekPospisil) outlasted England’s Daniel Evans (@Evo151216) in a see-saw battle to win the men’s singles title 6–0, 1–6, 7–5 to become the first BC-born player to win in the 12-year history of the event.
“My eyes were wide, I was a pretty innocent 15-year-old kid,” said Pospisil of his first time playing the Vancouver Open back in 2005. “At that age, you’re just excited to play against all of these amazing athletes, and happy to get a game or two off of them in your first pro event.”
Eight years later, the Vernon-born Pospisil came in as the number two seed in the tournament and ranked 85th in the world. He brought consecutive Davis Cup wins with Team Canada with him in his equipment bag, and led the list of prominent Tennis Canada stars to appear at the event-opening press conference. “Because I started here, you know, it’s always been a dream of mine to win the Vancouver Open,” said Pospisil, “and it’s great to do it with all of these people here. I think I personally know half of the people in the stands today.”