Nestor's partner critical of Rogers Cup timing

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:59 PM ET

A critical Nenad Zimonjic told Rogers Cup officials that the times should be a-changin’ on Friday, after he and Canadian doubles partner Daniel Nestor were put on court with little sleep after their previous match and lost in straight sets before a half filled Rexall Centre.

“In my opinion there was a little disrespect,” the Serbian complained after the top-seeded duo was ousted 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) in the quarterfinals by unseeded Michal Mertinak of Slovakia and Frantisek Cermak of the Czech Republic. “I enjoy playing in front of big crowds and I was very surprised that after playing late last night (until 8:13 p.m. Thursday) that we played at 11 a.m. Maybe it could have been the third match after two singles and more people could come. Toward the second set, there was a lot better crowd.

“I was very disappointed, first of all for Daniel and then for myself. (Nestor is) the last Canadian in the tournament and played for so many years on the Davis Cup and being No. 1 in the world in doubles.”

Nestor, also an Olympic gold medallist and Wimbledon doubles champ, said he “probably” agreed with his teammate’s sentiments, “but I don’t want to make excuses ... Hopefully, by the U.S. Open we can be on top of our game. I’m just upset we didn’t play well. It’s just frustrating when you don’t play well in front of your home crowd, at a tournament I look forward to.”

Nestor, a Belgrade-born Toronto resident, didn’t think this was another case of doubles’ tennis getting a raw deal.

“Sometimes, perhaps, but that’s just how it is. We don’t get that much TV exposure. If we can get more, people will take more note.”

Yet Zimonjic wondered why one of Friday’s four singles’ quarterfinals couldn’t have taken the 11 a.m. slot.

“They could have worked it out a lot better. We don’t play too often at home, once in my home country and once here. Those are the times we at least get more attention, which I think we deserve.”

Important

Tournament director Karl Hale said he was scrambling to find a solution Thursday night when the conflict arose.

“First of all, Daniel is very important to the tournament and to Canadians as we all know. We try and accommodate as much as possible,” Hale said. “We had a meeting with the supervisor and there were absolutely no other possibilities. It just so happened with the schedule today that we could do nothing, but put him at 11 o’clock. We can’t have a two-hour window from 11 to 1 with nothing on the court and theirs was the perfect match for that.

“We wanted to feature him and none of the other matches could go then. (German) Philipp Kohlschreiber has to play singles and doubles with a suitable rest and the second doubles’ match (late Thursday) has to go on later (Friday).

“It was one of those situations where everything worked against them did. We were put in a situation with no flexibility whatsoever (also because of television commitments to the singles’ matches). And understandably after a loss, he was disappointed.”

Hale added he tried to give Nestor and Zimonjic some leeway on Thursday when they requested a 6:30 p.m. start on the grandstand court, but they had to be shifted to a smaller venue. The many complaints Hale got from fans for that decision convinced him to put Nestor’s team on the biggest stage on Friday.

“But you could see by the crowd, there was roughly 5,000 to 6,000 people there (capacity is 11,800), which was great.”

Zimonjic said his serve let him down Friday and Nestor’s fear that a lack of action since Wimbledon would hurt them proved true. Lack of confidence was an issue at the Rogers Cup, but the 37-year-old Nestor says he is far from concerned that their game is suffering too much heading into the U.S. Open.

lance.hornby@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos