For years (decades) I avoided watching this film thinking that it was just another syrupy, overly-sentimental romance. Though that is a major key to the plot (which, in my opinion, borders on cookie-cutter), the element that stands out for me to make this a great picture is the dialogue. It is excellent. It just pops. By that, I mean it is so cohesive and well-thought out that even if you have never watched the film, you know what the characters are going to say. This is not to say that the dialogue is mundane and on-the-nose. It is simplistic and real. The characters say exactly what they are supposed to say – not something they are not supposed to say. I’m not even referring to the iconic dialogue (“play it again Sam…” etc.) The way the dialogue comes at you, line after line is just mesmerizing. I wish I could write dialogue like that. You sit there watching the film and you end up nodding your head and smiling after a line of dialogue because it is EXACTLY what the character is supposed to say. Brilliant.
Bogart kind of grows on you after a few showings – even as the film progresses, his stiff and aloof style at the beginning of the film generally evaporates into a soft, caring characterization that you grow to like. He's even better in 'The Caine Mutiny' - his finest performance. The great Ingrid Bergman puts in a good performance (she is better elsewhere, ‘Notorious’ for example) but the character that she plays is too wrapped around the theme of romance and is not enough of a tortured soul for Bergman to really sink her teeth into the role. The real performance here is put forth by Claude Rains. He is excellent and steals every scene that he is in.
In the end, I’m glad that I finally watched Casablanca to see what fans of the film have been raving about for years. Is it a good film? Yes. But is it a great film? Okay… yes.
With her win in the 2014 Australian Open quarterfinals, Genie Bouchard matched the best-ever performance by a Canadian singles tennis player in a major by advancing into the semi-finals – a feat only accomplished once before way back at the 1984 U.S. Open by Carling Bassett. It was an incredibly proud moment for Canadian tennis fans and Canada in general. In a hockey-mad nation, having a top player in another sport only adds to Canada’s reputation for its diversity on the world stage.
When Genie Bouchard raised her arms in victory (the only time that she showed any emotion on court), the fans of Canadian tennis who have pushed and pulled for every Canadian singles tennis player for 30 years collectively jumped up and raised their arms in victory with her. It had been a long wait. From Carling Bassett, to Helen Kelesi, to Patricia Hy, to Aleksandra Wozniak, Genie Bouchard finally broke through the ceiling. She is a star in the making.
While Canadian tennis fans continue to cheer on Milos Raonic and his tactical, progressive, painstaking climb up into the almost seemingly impenetrable upper echelon of men’s pro tennis, and Vasek Pospisil’s exciting climb up the ladder behind him, this win by Genie Bouchard instantly becomes a touchstone. While Raonic has pro tour wins under his belt which has helped him in his climb up the rankings, this win and placement by Bouchard is equally important. This history-tying win by Bouchard is covered relentlessly by the media, which instantly raises the profile of Canadian tennis. Success in Grand Slam tennis is the highest achievement a pro tennis player can achieve. That Bouchard has made it as far as she has is not only a big deal – it’s the biggest deal.
Sitting and watching tennis for 30 years and cheering on the Canadians, it has been frustrating, elating, promising and disappointing. Milos Raonic began the new era of tennis in Canada in 2011. Since then, it has been a steady and rumbling noise of success after success. Enjoy this because we’re at the start of THE golden age of Canadian tennis. The best is yet to come.
At the beginning of 2011 after the Australian Open, you would have thought that Milos Raonic was the only Canadian singles tennis player on the radar to make a serious run past the 4th round of a major and into the elite part of the tournament – the quarterfinals and beyond. Aleksandra Wozniak almost did it at the 2009 French Open when she made it to the 4th round. Up until Raonic came along, she was thought to be the player with the best chance to make it to the quarters of a major. That was until Eugenie Bouchard came along – seemingly out of nowhere. Funny, that’s how Raonic appeared as well.
While many tennis players have reached the 4th round of a major and it’s a major feather in their cap, saying that you have reached the quarterfinals or the quarters or having a QF after your name is career defining. It’s always mentioned in bios or as a stat that stands out when their name comes up. Until Genie Bouchard did it at the 2014 Australian Open, only 3 other Canadians (all female) have made it to the quarters of a major: Carling Bassett (4 times), Helen Kelesi (twice) and Patricia Hy-Boulais (once). Of course Bassett has the high-water mark of making it the furthest of all: a semi-final appearance at the 1984 U.S. Open.
The upper echelon of men’s pro tennis is a very tough sector to break into. Raonic got to where he is by being consistent for 3 years. His ranking reflects that consistency. He may win the title, make it to the final, the semis or the quarters of mid-level tournaments, but he always seems to make his seeding at the majors. If he’s seeded in the 16 to 9 range, he usually makes it to the 4th round – the round of 16. That, combined with him making his seed at lower tournaments – usually in the 8 to number 1 seeded position – puts him exactly where he should be: 11th in the world. The hard work that put him there is now over. I consider his plateauing at 11th to be the end of the first phase of his career. The next phase will see him making serious inroads into the Top 10.
Genie Bouchard is enjoying the same kind of “Raonic fever” that gripped the tennis world in 2011: a soaring ranking based on her hitting above her weight. This “Genie mania” is exciting because she is going where few Canadian tennis players have gone before and perhaps into uncharted territory. When this phase of her career is over (the same kind that Raonic first enjoyed), she could become the second highest ranked Canadian singles player ever. Based on her current success, that would put her around the Top 10 – right where Raonic is now.
Carling Bassett’s relatively short career is still the benchmark for all Canadian tennis players to beat: semifinals of a major; #8 in the world; 4 appearances in major quarterfinals. The fact that she did all that in the space of 4 years is surprising and at the same time, disappointing because she could have done so much more and made an even bigger impact than she did had she not retired in 1988. Both Raonic and Bouchard have the talent to match these results. Keeping in mind that the top tier of men’s pro tennis is more difficult to crack, Bouchard has the better chance to match and beat Bassett’s accomplishments.
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