practice sessions

Nadal And Djokovic Lose In Doubles

Was it really worth all that hype?

The super-duo of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Rogers Cup in the first round late last night at the hands of Canadians Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil.

The mostly unheard of Raonic/Pospisil pairing came back to win the match 5-7, 6-3, 10-8 in front of an electric opening night crowd at the Rexall Centre.

At only 19 and 20 years old respectively, Raonic and Pospisil defied the odds and somehow managed to avoid the nerves that must have accompanied sharing a court with the two top ranked players in the world.

Serving at 8-2 in the Super tie-break, Raonic and Pospisil appeared to have won the next point which would have given them six match points. Instead the chair umpire called Pospisil for touching the net prior to the point ending, thus giving the point to Nadal and Djokovic. The call seemed to temporarily rattle the Canadians as they allowed their more experienced opponents to bring the match all the way back to 9-8 with still one match point to try to capitalize upon. On that point they made no mistake and an authoritative Pospisil volley ended the match and allowed the two to walk out with their heads held high.

The Nadal/Djokovic partnership marks the first time since 1976 that the world’s top ranked singles players have joined forces in doubles on the ATP Tour. Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe were the last to do it and after last night’s result I wonder if it might be another 34 years before we see it again.

While it certainly created quite a buzz both here in Toronto and around the tennis world at large, the fact that the number one and two players joined forces is perplexing in many ways. Obviously Nadal and Djokovic get along quite well, as was further evidenced by their multiple practice sessions together here this week, but in an individualistic sport such as tennis you’d think teaming up with your greatest competition is a bit too close for comfort.

Roger Federer mentioned in his pre-tournament press conference yesterday that he never would have teamed up with Nadal during the height of their intense rivalry. Even though those two also got along reasonably well, the press had created such a build-up with their quest for Grand Slam glory and the number one ranking that it basically negated any possibility of a doubles partnership.

“Well, Rafa asked me a few years ago to play doubles in I think it was Madrid indoors…but then I think our rivalry was so intense, I just felt it was the wrong thing to do,” Federer revealed.

“It would have been great for the game, but I think it would have been a bit of a curveball for everybody. I don’t think the press would have enjoyed it so much. They want to put us against each other, not with each other.”

Nadal and Djokovic are in the infancy of their relationship as the best two players in the world and there is no guarantee it will last very long. Djokovic’s lead over Federer and Murray in the rankings is slim and he hasn’t had the most consistent year on tour. Maybe if their chase for the top ranking was narrower they would have thought twice before teaming up in Toronto.

Regardless, their experiment has ended prematurely and will now allow them both to concentrate on their singles play. For Nadal, he will open Wednesday night against the winner of the Frank Dancevic/Stan Wawrinka match that will close out the evening on Centre Court today. Djokovic will play Julien Benneteau of France tomorrow during the day session.

Players Hit Practice Courts At Rogers Cup

The pros are getting ready for the Rogers Cup in Toronto with several of the big names having already had their first practice sessions at the Rexall Center.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both hit yesterday while Roger Federer appeared on Center Court today to hit with Canadian Peter Polansky.

While Nadal and Djokovic have decided to partner up for the doubles, there has been no word on whether Federer too will play in both draws this coming week. Federer last played doubles in Canada in 2008 with fellow Swiss player Stan Warinka. The two paired up again a month later to win the gold medal at the Olympics in Beijing. I wonder if the duo will unite again this year, or will Federer bring in Swiss pal and doubles specialist Yves Allegro? Maybe he will surprise us all and take his own big-time partner like an Andy Murray or Roddick?

In other news, Lletyon Hewitt has announced on his personal website that he is withdrawing from the Rogers Cup with a calf injury he sustained earlier this week in Washington. I wonder if Toronto has seen the last of the 29 year old Hewitt? He will be 31 the next time the city hosts the tournament.

Stay tuned to Tennis Grandstand for all Rogers Cup updates. We will be present at the world famous CN Tower at 4pm ET for the official draw ceremony with Rafael Nadal. You can also follow me on Twitter for timely updates as well.

Federer, Nadal Set To Play In Abu Dhabi

Flash Entertainment, in partnership with Capitala, has announced six of the most prominent players currently competing in the world of professional tennis are set for a thrilling return to the Capitala World Tennis Championship.

Following last year’s successful tournament, the event has attracted a star-studded field with world number one Roger Federer and Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Nikolay Davydenko, Fernando Verdasco and Robin Soderling completing a spectacular line-up of the world’s top tennis players.

The Capitala World Tennis Championship will see the players in action across three spectacular days at the Abu Dhabi International Tennis Complex at Zayed Sports City from 31 December 2009 – 2 January 2010.

Tickets for the event are on sale online at www.boxofficeme.com. Fans who buy their tickets before 31st October 2009 will have a chance to win a signed Roger Federer Wilson racket! Visit www.capitalawtc.com for more information.

As well as three days of spectacular tennis, the Capitala World Tennis Championship will also boast its very own Tennis Village which will include a range of fun and exciting activities including player signings and practice sessions, competitions and a Nintendo Wii wall. The Tennis Village is absolutely free and open to the public and for those who don’t get their hands on a ticket there will still be the opportunity to soak up all the atmosphere in the village and catch the live action on the big screens.