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Peter Figura Blogging from Roland Garros: Day 1

Written by: Peter Figura

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***Peter is an award winning photographer and has been involved in tennis for almost 40 years.  He contributes to Ontario Tennis Magazine and some tennis publications in Europe.  His work has been published in Rogers Cup Souvenir Program, and he also contributes his work to Tennis Matters charity. Peter works with several tennis Clubs to help them get high quality tennis photography into marketing publications and displays.***

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In her first French Open appearance Canadian Rebecca Marino performed like a tour veteran. Not bothered by the fact that she was playing on Court 17 (the farthest from the Philippe Chartier Stadium) where the stand are very small, and the crown support relatively weak. That there were no (or very, very few) Canadian fans watching, or even the fact that people gathered around mainly because the next door there was Rafael Nadal practicing with Milos Raonic.

Marino played Kataryna Bondarenko, who although ranked number 110 on the WTA Tour (Marino is number 60) was in the past sitting comfortable inside top 30. And that’s why many commentators were expecting a tough match for the Canadian player. But Marino had a very different opinion. She took control of the match almost from the very first point, jumping to 2:0 lead. Bondarenko looks like she couldn’t do anything to change the outcome of this match that was decided literally in those first two games.  In the crucial moment the Ukrainian double faulted twice giving Marino a comfortable lead 6:3 in the first set. From that moment it was just a matter of time before the match was over.

Marin Cilic

First day of the 2011 Roland Garros was relatively uneventful. The biggest upset came with the very first match played on court 7, where relatively unknown Spaniard, who as a matter of fact is closing the first top 100 of the ATP rankings – Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo won is straight sets (7:6, 6:4, 6:4) against number 19 seed – Marin Cilic from Croatia.  Cilic seems to be controlling very early part of the match holding his serve, and marking Hidalgo work very hard to stay even, but the number of unforced errors (67 from Cilic vs. 34 from Hidalgo) made it virtually impossible for give himself a chance to win.

On the women’s side of the tournament number 19 Flavia Panetta and number 19 Sahar Peer both lost their matches to much lower ranked opponents.  Particularly Panetta match (lost in 3 sets to American Varvara Lepchenko) was a disappointing one, as she not only is top 20 ranked player (she was as high as number 10) and number 1 in doubles, but did relatively well in Paris getting twice to the fourth round.  Her opponent in 3 previous Paris appearances never went past the second round.

Today is going to be a very busy day in Paris. Novak Djokovic is putting his 37 matches winning streak on the line when he is playing Dutchman Thiemo De Bakker.  Roger Federer will play Feliciano Lopez whom he met few weeks ago in Madrid (Loped had a match point) and three Canadians will be playing almost at the same time.  Aleksandra Wozniak will be facing Jumri Namigata of Japan, Franck Dancevic will play Simone Bolelli of Italy, and Milos Raonic who is the first Canadian player to be seeded at the Grand Slam tournament will open his campaign on Court 16 against Michael Berrer of Germany.

A New Reality By Nicolas Pereira

This past week in the World Team Tennis ‘Bubble” I have seen the efforts to keep everyone safe while carrying on a team competition with around 60/70 players and coaches onsite. Counting organizers, officials, media, and support personnel are around 150 people trying hard to make this happen. I am very impressed by how the strict protocol has been handled and how everyone is invested in making this event a success, but The Open is a completely different scale of details.

ONcourt Interviews NGTL Co-Founder Yves Boulais

It does not matter that you get your rating playing locally or that you had spent an insidious amount of money playing the ITF junior tour tournaments. Your rating is your level of play (you get no bonus for playing more or playing far away). This allows us to break free of the ITF competitive structure potentially saving us time, money, and headache. We see this as a great opportunity to improve the logistic of our sport.

Brandon Burke (son of ACE President Doug Burke) Elected to WTA Board

As revealed in a recent news release issued by the WTA Tour – Brandon Burke has been elected to the WTA Board of Directors (to start officially in September). Oncourt got together with Brandon to delve a bit more into his background and to gain some insight into this wonderful appointment he has attained at such a young age.