Sunday, August 12, 2012

2012 Toronto Masters: Djokovic v Gasquet Final

The final of the 2012 Rogers Cup will be between #1 seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia and surprise finalist Richard Gasquet from France. Gasquet reached this point by defeating a listless John Isner 7-6(3) 6-3 on a very cloudy and rainy Saturday in Toronto. I was in the audience for this match and the talented Frenchman used his versatile backhand to excellent effect. He deployed the slice backhand to return the American's powerful serves and used the topspin backhand to laser winners over the court and out-last the American in cross-court backhand rallies. Isner attempted to be aggressive with his forehand but his footwork appeared to be tired and somewhat clumsy so he was rarely able to open up a point with his groundstroke weapon and instead made costly errors. The first set was pretty straightforward, with Isner able to save breakpoints with aces as high as 229 kmh (142 mph), leading to the inevitable tiebreak where he fell behind 2-5 and failed to recover, losing te set. The second set Gasquet pressed his advantage by serving more authoritatively, exploiting Isner lackluster return game and increasing his aggression on Isner's service games. This initiative was rewarded with two breakpoints in the sixth game. Isner saved one with an unreturnable serve but when he missed the serve and came into net Gasquet rifled a backhand winner down the line to go up 4-2. Serving for the match at 5-3 Gasquet saved a breakpoint but was able to close out the win to reach his biggest final in his career.

I also had tickets for the second semifinal, which was supposed to start at 6:30 local time. However, despite the sky being less cloudy at 6:30 almost immediately as the players were ending the warm-up his the skies opened up and the rain started coming down lightly at first and then in sheets of water. At around 7:15pm I gave up and took Toronto Transit back to where I was staying. I was glad I did, because the all-Serbian final between Novak Djokovic and Janko Tipsarevic did not conclude till well after 11:30pm (following another rain delay in the middle of the match after they began at almost 8pm), with Djokovic prevailing 6-4 6-1.

Looking forward to seeing my first Masters final live tonight! I full expect Djokovic to win, but Gasquet is playing well. Djokovic needs to win if he wants to try and wrest the ATP top spot from Federer this week in Cincinnati before the US Open starts in 2 weeks.

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