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Tour report - Montreal and Toronto

Novak Djokovic throws his arms up in desperation against Andy Murray.
by Alexandra Willis
Tuesday 14 August 2012

Taking place amid the second week of the Olympic bubble, it was certainly the least-high profile Rogers Cup in recent years, but it ended with wins for two 2011 Wimbledon champions - Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova.

It has hardly been the easiest of summers for Djokovic, whose aura of invincibility seemed to disapparate with his loss to Rafael Nadal in the final of the French Open. Denied the first run of four straight majors since Rod Laver in 1968 by just two sets, Djokovic ran out of puff in the semi-finals at Wimbledon, and at the same stage at the Olympic tennis. He even lost out on a bronze medal in the play-off against Juan Martin Del Potro. 

But there's nothing like getting back to basics to restore one's confidence. And so perhaps being rather under the radar helped, as Djokovic successfully defended his Rogers Cup title in Toronto. The field, admittedly, was without Roger Federer, without Rafael Nadal, and without Andy Murray. But that did not detract from the fact that it was Djokovic's first title since Miami, his 31st title in 48 finals, and a much-needed boost for the Serb. 

“It's a big tournament, one of the biggest we have in tennis. I'm very happy to be in this position,” Djokovic said. “I truly did not expect myself to win this tournament after the emotional losses in the Olympic Games. I really took it hard. I tried to bounce back and recover; I've done great, I have to say.”

Becoming only the third player in the Open era to win three Rogers Cup titles, the Canadian Masters that alternates between Toronto and Montreal each year, Djokovic got better and better during the week, ending with a 6-3, 6-2 dismissal of Richard Gasquet to lift the orb-like trophy. 

“It was a tough match,” Gasquet said. “It’s a big tournament. I felt a little bit more pressure. It's tough when you have Djokovic in front of you and you are not playing your best tennis. It's very difficult. He's going all the time with his backhand very early, so he's an incredible player. He played much better than me for sure.”

Over in Montreal, at the WTA Coupe Rogers, it proved to be an equally-needed filip for Kvitova, who despite having a career-defining season in 2011, winning Wimbledon, the WTA Championships and the Fed Cup, had not added to her tally of seven career titles in 2012. 

But she proved the stronger in an enthralling tussle with Li Na, the Chinese also seeking her first title of 2012, only for the Czech to prevail in typically topsy turvy fashion, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3.

With Kvitova edging the first set, in what she described as "a really big fight," it was Li who came roaring back in the second, winning 16 points in a row to lead 4-0. 

"I didn't really realize - but that was really good tennis from her," Kvitova said. "Between the second and third sets, when I was in the locker room changing my clothes, I knew I had to be the first one to attack the balls and play much faster than in the second set. I also needed a higher first serve percentage."

Her renewed focus paid off, the fifth seed taking the only break of the third set to produce her first top 10 win of 2012 in her first final of 2012, and her first final in North America. 

"I have asthma so I have trouble breathing sometimes, but it wasn't too humid here this week," Kvitova explained. "It's only a problem in North America, unfortunately, because here it's more humid than Europe or Australia, where it's very hot but not that humid. Humidity is the main problem for me."

Thus with just two weeks to go until the US Open, with one more event sandwiched in between, at Cincinnati, Djokovic and Kvitova will both be feeling considerably more confident than they were seven days ago. 

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