MONTREAL — You wouldn’t know it from watching Rafael Nadal’s overwhelming destruction of Milos Raonic ySunday — but tennis in this country has come a long way in the past seven years.
That’s since Louis Borfiga took over the high-performance job at Tennis Canada back in 2006. The past week has since the ultimate vindication of that move, with Raonic and Vasek Pospisil meeting in one semi-final of the men’s draw here in Montreal while Westmount teenager Eugenie Bouchard had another strong performance before running into Petra Kvitova in Toronto.
It’s a highwater mark for tennis in this country and it’s been a long time coming. It’s also a welcome change from the annual spate of stories telling us that Aleksandra Wozniak was really, truly ready at last to make a breakthrough.
This time, the breakthrough is real and it’s coming in numbers to make any Canadian proud.
Look at tennis south of the border — where no American male is ranked in the top 20 and the women’s side pretty much comes down to Serena Williams and hope for Sloane Stephens — and you have to feel that Tennis Canada is doing something right.
Raonic will be in the top 10, Pospisil around 40th — and Filip Peliwo (who made some noise this week himself) is on the way.
If you tuned in late and saw only Nadal’s clinical dissection of Raonic yesterday, you could be forgiven for thinking that tennis in this country is pretty much where it’s always been. I’m not a big fan of Raonic’s game — he’s too one-dimensional, relying on that big 215-kilometre serve, too much like a big awkward puppy out there — but there’s no denying his success.
Raonic on Sunday became the first Canadian since 1958 to play in a Rogers Cup/Canadian Open final. That and the move into the Top 10 made it a splendid week for him.
Like most of the other men on the ATP tour, Raonic is no threat to the top four when they’re on their game. He might move up another notch or two but he is a long, long way from being able to beat a healthy Nadal.
But there are bigger and better things coming. Seeing the kids in the crowd pulling for Raonic yesterday, you couldn’t help thinking that this is the sort of thing that becomes contagious. The kids see their heroes out there, they want to emulate them — and the next thing you know, you’re a tennis power.
Losing ugly: You’ve heard of winning ugly? Well, the Alouettes are losing ugly. We’re six games into the CFL season and they’ve got enough video for a three-hour lowlight reel showing what has gone wrong.
Fumbles, dropped passes, missed tackles — it’s like a clown show came to town to replace the once vaunted Als.
Off one hideous loss to the Argos, it appears that firing Dan Hawkins didn’t help a bit. Jim Popp wasn’t responsible for all those fumbles, dropped passes and missed tackles — but he is responsible for the way this team is run.
I’m not a coaching genius but there is one thing I know: Players need to understand very clearly who’s in charge. When Popp fired Hawkins, he let offensive co-ordinator Mike Miller keep his title, although he was technically demoted.
So Doug Berry is in charge of the offence while Miller is the offensive coordinator? Huh? For the Argos game, Miller flanked Popp on the sidelines while Berry supposedly called the plays from up above.
Berry might have been in quarterback Anthony Calvillo’s ear all night long — but Miller was in Popp’s ear. So who’s in charge? Berry? Miller? Popp? Calvillo? Does anyone know? Who’s on first?
I dunno. Maybe MarcTrestman could call the plays from Chicago?
Somebody needs to give those metricians a sabre: Couldn’t believe my eyes yesterday when I saw a column Sunday saying that the Angels' Mike Trout might deserve the MVP ahead of Miguel Cabrera.
That ridiculous argument (which cropped up last year as well) is based on a bunch of outlandish stats dreamed up by nerds who would rather play fantasy baseball than actually watch the grand old game: Stats like OBPS (Out of Baseball Pitch Selection) UFGQ (Ultra-Fantasy Groundball Quotient) and WVFWG (We Vote for White Guys.)
Silly. The MVP belongs to Cabrera, with an honourable mention for Chris Davis. As for Trout — let him get back to us when his club isn’t among the league’s underachieving bottom-feeders.
Lies, rumours &&&& vicious innuendo: Some things never change. Early Sunday afternoon, Tiger Woods was still drawing all the attention at the PGA even though he was 7-over (or up a touchdown, depending on how you look at it) ...
Is it just me, or does Novak Djokovic look way skinny? Djokovic is on this crazy diet which supposedly helps him — but the guy looks positively emaciated and he isn’t playing that well, by his standards. Have a milk shake or three, dude! …
It was like ex-jocks with mikes were having a contest all week, trying to see who could say the dumbest thing on air. Jack Clark beat Bernie Kosar by one lawsuit. …
Last time we looked, the Miami Marlins were drawing only 100 fans per game more than they were drawing in their old ballpark. This is in the new venue they conned out of the Dade County Commissioners. Maybe time Major League Baseball bought the Marlins and moved them to Montreal?
Heroes: Rafa Nadal, Sorana Cirstea, Vasek Pospisil, Eugenie Bouchard, Louis Borfiga, Tennis Canada, Miguel Cabrera, Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, Scott Milanovich, Chad Owens, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, the Pittsburgh Pirates &&&& last but not least, Milos Raonic.
Zeros: Tiger Woods, Serena Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Bryce Harper, Brett Lawrie, the Alouettes, Jack Clark, Bernie Kosar, Pierre Gauthier, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Miami Marlins, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
Rogers Cup tennis tournament winner Rafael Nadal of Spain, right, shakes hands with Milos Raonic of Canada, left, after beating him during the 2013 Rogers Cup men’s tennis finals at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal on Sunday, August 11, 2013.
Photograph by: Dario Ayala, The Gazette