Finding out that world no.1 Serena Williams is withdrawing one day before Rogers Cup is set to get underway and that world no.3 Garbine Muguruza is withdrawing five minutes before the start of her second-round match would cause headaches for any tournament director.
Still, Eugène Lapierre is positive about the outcome of this year’s event, especially in terms of ticket sales: “Of course, if we had to rewrite the script of the tournament, we would make little changes here and there but, overall, the sales, for example, were incredible. We broke our record. We are at 175 000 for the women. We did even better this year in spite of the fact that, last year, there was a lot of buzz with Genie, who had good results coming into the tournament—which was not the case this year. Also, we played two weeks earlier. We really didn’t know what to expect for this tournament.”
Mr. Lapierre was also thrilled with the performances of the three Canadians in the main draw: “I was impressed with what our Canadian players did. Aleksandra is back to her level. She really needed to have a good performance. Errani was a tough opponent. The match was tight, she did well. We’ll see what she’ll do in Granby next week.
Françoise played a very good Chinese opponent, who had a lot to gain because she would have become no. 1 in China if she had won. But Françoise was totally in control of that match. It’s incredible to see her play. She is an incredible athlete. We would like her to do that more regularly on the Tour. Against Svitolina, she had openings because 7-6, 7-6 is a tight score. Svitolina is considered one of the next good players. She’s coached by Justine Henin. Abanda showed us she can improve her ranking. She’s not Top 200, she’s Top 50 but she has to be more consistent.
Of course, the crowd followed Genie. With all the pressure there was for that match against Safarova, she played well. Safarova was playing really well: 7-5 in the third, three match points. I mean, anyone who knows tennis would have thought the match would be over. Genie won six points in a row and came out the winner. It was incredible. The most beautiful match I’ve seen from her. The level was very high. It was great tennis.”
A roof to increase sales
Mr. Lapierre was also asked about the possible addition of roofs over the stadium courts—an initiative that more and more tournaments are undertaking: “We have no dates. We are studying the feasibility of having a roof. We like the idea and we are seeing what is happening on the international scene. Wimbledon and Australia have a roof, even several roofs. The US Open will inaugurate its roof this year. The French Open wants a roof. Madrid, Shanghai have roofs. Even in the 500s, some have roofs.
My perspective is that, between now and 10 years from now, many tournaments will have a roof. Why? Well, because, what we are trying to do with our sport for it to survive is to sell it to the media on every possible platform. We are in competition with other sports like basketball, baseball, etc. Right now, there is a demand for tennis from broadcasters. It’s a beautiful sport. In the same tournament, you can sell the product to Asia, South America, the United States and Europe on the same day because there are players from every market. We can do that more and more.”