[[Pete is on vacation until Wednesday. He'll be back with a post on Thursday, the 19th.]]
By Jackie Roe, TW Contributing Writer
(FYI: I'm auto-posting this on Sunday night.) I just arrived in Cincinnati a few hours ago and am already overwhelmed with anticipation for the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters. I'll preview Monday's matches in just a bit, but first, I wanted to share some final thoughts from my Toronto experience.
Today's match between Federer and Murray was the first final I'd ever witnessed live and in person. Unfortunately, my euphoria was short-lived as I only saw the first set; the rains and my poorly-scheduled flight time meant I had to leave the grounds mid-match. What I did see was entertaining enough, though Federer's poor play early had me shifting uncomfortably in my seat. (Still, as much as I wished for competitive match, I also wanted a speedy one so I'd get to see it in its entirety. Federer getting blown out would've fulfilled that objective.)
Some other observations:
I had a marvelous time in Toronto, and I can't believe I considered not going strictly because of my Cincinnati plans. Beautiful city, warm people, intimate tournament atmosphere ... what's not to love?
- When Murray failed to serve out the first set, I wrote "Deja vu all over again." Reminder that it's not just Berdych who clams up in big moments vs. The Mighty Fed.
- When Fed evened the set at 5-all, the crowd exploded. Chants of "Let's go, Roger!" filled the stadium. In that moment, I understood just how important the audience is, how natural it is for a player to feed off of the crowd's energy, because I even did. And I wasn't on the court!
- Five breaks in the first set alone. Celebrating the WTA.
- Shortly after the rain started up again at 1-2 in the second, I bid my adieu to the Roger's Cup.
- When I learned later that Murray had won the match, I wasn't at all surprised given what I had seen the last few days. The focus, resolve, and confidence were sure to carry over into today's match. Well-deserved victory.
Finally, some shout-outs to a few of the fine Canadians I encountered on my trip: The hotel maid who gave me a water bottle for free; the tournament driver who was an avid wrestling fan and informed me that wrestling is "huge" in Toronto (I didn't know it was huge anywhere aside from my house); the volunteer in the media seating area who said he looked forward to seeing me every morning and greeted me with a "There she is!" today.
But now it's on to Cincy, and I'm sure I'll make even more memories here, if the first night is any indication. I already met up with several of my "tennis friends," some from TW, some from other places like Twitter and Federer's website. They're all such enthusiastic tennis fans - and really kind-hearted people. I've also spotted an absurd amount of tennis players at the hotel. Nalbandian, Verdasco, Chardy, Melzer, Youzhny, Simon, Monfils (the subject of an impromptu photo shoot in the lobby with a horde of fans), Bagdatis, Nestor, Tecau ... those are only the ones I remember. And I just got here three hours ago!
The early stages of a Masters tournament are tricky, since many of us find ourselves attending matches for certain players, not for the match-ups. Looking at Monday's order of play, I'm having trouble gauging which matches will be the most competitive, so I'm playing it by ear. I'll try to catch some of Wawrinka-Almagro, and maybe Ferrer-Dolgopolov. Aside from that, I'm looking forward to roaming the grounds, and soaking in as much tennis as I can. (Basically, I'll be at the practice courts. Hey, I have to make up for all that I didn't see in Toronto, right?)
What matches are you looking forward to?
Go ahead and use this space to discuss today's action in both Cincinnati and Montreal. I'll be back with another update Tuesday morning, and check out my Twitter - @JackieRoe - for even more Cincy coverage.