Wet, 'strange' day at The Rex

BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:19 AM ET

Finally, A real tennis match.

Two highly seeded players.

No withdrawals. No injuries. No retirements. No nonsense.

But then ... what is that noise ... thunder?

Oh, good lord, no.

After it had rained on the Rogers Cup in a figurative sense for most of the week, there was literal rain to deal with yesterday. It poured down in buckets, washing away the bulk of the crowd.

The heavens bellowed. The sky crackled with chain lightning.

By about 4 p.m., centre court at the Rexall Centre at York University had been transformed into a wading pool.

The water was six inches deep. Players gleefully splashed each other and performed swimming strokes for eager cameramen.

The truth is, nobody should have been out there without a lifeguard present.

"It's incredible. I've never seen anything like it," said Tennis Canada tournament director Stacey Allaster, whose event seems to be the target of a Biblical curse. "This is incredibly bad luck. We're testing the Rexall Centre (which opened in 2004), and obviously there are some drainage issues we may have to rectify."

The back end of the York University site, which includes all the retail outlets, was closed for several hours due to flooding.

The marquee afternoon quarter-final match between Mauresmo, the second seed, and sixth-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia was stopped at 4-4 in the first set because of the rain. Play resumed four hours later, at about 6:45 p.m.

Petrova won the first set 6-4, then Mauresmo bounced back to win the second set 7-5. Mauresmo was ahead 2-0 in the third set when Petrova quit because of a right pectoral muscle injury (by far the most popular injury this week).

"It was a strange way to finish an intense match," Mauresmo said. "It was a strange day. We had to wait a long time, then come back and play at night with different conditions."

Mauresmo said she played some cards during the four-hour break. Did she win any money?

"No, we were even," she said.

The delayed evening session saw fourth-seeded Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium taking on unseeded 16-year-old Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic. Henin-Hardenne won the first set 7-5, then endured another long rain delay before taking the second set 7-6.

Earlier, No. 7 Kim Clijsters of Belgium rolled over No. 14 Flavia Pennetta of Italy 6-0, 6-1, while No. 9 Anastasia Myskina of Russia dismissed unseeded Gisela Dulko of Argentina 6-4, 7-5.

Clijsters is scheduled to play Myskina in the first semi-final today (noon). The second semi-final (6:30 p.m.) will feature Mauresmo versus Henin-Hardenne.


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