Blame Olympics, rain for low Rogers Cup numbers: director

Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia, Nadia Petrova of Russia, runners up, and Kristina Mladenovic of...

Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia, Nadia Petrova of Russia, runners up, and Kristina Mladenovic of France and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik of Poland, winners, pose with the trophies on August 12, 2012. (Robert Laberge/Getty Images/AFP)

BRIAN DALY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:42 PM ET

MONTREAL - Tennis is a huge draw every year in Montreal, which made the five empty upper-level sections all the more unusual during the Rogers Cup final at Uniprix Stadium.

About 150,000 spectators took in the 10-day event, down from 172,000 in 2010, the last time the world's top women gathered in Montreal.

Earlier in the week, tournament Director Eugene Lapierre had been reluctant to admit Olympic broadcasts were hurting his gate.

But during his tournament-ending news conference Monday, he acknowledged the Summer Games in general, and Olympic tennis in particular, might have kept people home.

"Going up against the Olympics hurt us I think in terms of the attendance," said Lapierre. "It must have hurt seeing ... the tennis game on television the week before. You see plenty of tennis."

The absence of Serena Williams and the injury-related withdrawals of 3rd-ranked Maria Sharapova and world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka didn't help matters but Lapierre said the biggest problem was the weather.

There were numerous rain delays, the entire Friday evening session was wiped out and some doubles matches were moved to an indoor tennis club south of downtown.

The saving grace might have been the strong play of the Canadian women.

Aleksandra Wozniak made the quarterfinals and youngster Eugenie Bouchard showed moxie, developing skill and supreme confidence in upsetting Israeli Shahar Peer in the first round.

Bouchard says that withdrawals by foreigners won’t matter next year if Wozniak and Bouchard keep winning matches at home.

"In a few years, if not like two years from now, we will be expecting our own players to do very good and to go further in the tournament."


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