For the very first time since 1989, after 30 participations in the event, Daniel Nestor was nowhere to be found in either of the Rogers Cup draws.
Still, the 46-year-old Torontonian, his wife and their two daughters were in town for Daniel’s induction into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame.
To mark the event, former captain and head coach of the Montréal Canadiens Guy Carbonneau presented Daniel—an eternal Habs fan—with a team jersey at a ceremony held on Centre Court before the first match of Thursday’s evening session. Like Aleksandra Wozniak on Tuesday, Nestor received a commemorative plaque that will grace the halls of IGA Stadium.
The former World No.1 in doubles, who holds 91 career titles earned with 11 partners, also represented Canada at Davis Cup and brought home Olympic gold with Sébastien Lareau from the 2000 Sydney Games.
“Daniel is one of the greatest doubles players of all time—if not the greatest doubles player—because he won with different guys,” affirmed Milos Raonic. “I think the only other two that could maybe be considered ahead of him are Bob and Mike, but they’ve done most of their accomplishments together. He’s done it with different guys, he’s won on all surfaces.”
The Serbian-born ace still remembers every detail of his first Rogers Cup in Montréal in 1989: “It was here in 1989. I was only 16. I got a wild card in singles and doubles. I just remember playing a guy that was better than me. Before the match, I looked at the draw. If I would have won, I would have played John McEnroe. I don’t know why I was thinking ahead, but that was freaking me out.”
Félix Auger-Aliassime, who, in comparison, played in his second Rogers Cup this year, is exceedingly impressed with all his countryman has achieved. In recent years, the two have gotten to know each other.
“It’s unbelievable! Playing 30 straight Rogers Cup events? Crazy!” said the Quebecer. “He’s a legend in our sport in Canada. I haven’t had the chance to spend a lot of time with him but he’s a model for me and all young players across Canada. You know, my first year on the Davis Cup team was his last. There was a real generation change that I’ll remember for a long time.”
Retired Canadian player Frédéric Niemeyer, who is now a national coach at Tennis Canada, knows Daniel Nestor well. They teamed up in Davis Cup doubles for a decade and at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.
“He has two personalities. At first, he’s shy and introverted,” explained Niemeyer. “But once you get to know him, he’s the complete opposite. He jokes around and he’s a real team player.”
Niemeyer remembers how, at the very start of his career in the late 1990s, Daniel invited him to stay at his place when the rookie traveled to Toronto for medical appointments so he wouldn’t have to pay for a hotel. “He’s always welcomed young players,” added Niemeyer. “He adapted to the new generations and saw his share of them. Some tournaments can be tense but he was always able to lighten the mood. I think that’s why he played as long as he did: he loves the sport and he loves life on tour. You don’t stick around that long if you don’t love what you do. He gave so much to tennis.”