By Sean Farrell, special to EmiratesUSOpenSeries.
MONTREAL - Top-ranked Victoria Azarenka arrived in Montreal with an Olympic gold medal. She and Max Mirnyi teammed up to defeat men's singles gold medalist Andy Murray and Laura Robson of Great Britain on Sunday at Wimbledon as Belarus claimed the first mixed doubles title in the Olympics since 1924 in Paris.
The Australian Open champion also won bronze in the women's singles.
"The Olympics were very, very special," Azarenka said. "It wasn't something like the other tournaments. At the beginning it didn't feel that way but definitely in the end it had its impact and all the emotions and everything that you go through you cannot really compare to any other tournament."
The quick turnaround from London to Montreal also means a surface change from Wimbledon's hallowed grass.
"It's definitely going to be tough to have such an adjustment just a few days after such an event," Azarenka said. "It took a lot of energy out and the important thing is just try to be as fresh as possible for Thursday to make sure that I have desire and passion to play and to be on the court so that's important, but the adjustment is going to be difficult. It's also exciting to see how I can adjust so quick to a different surface."
After a first-round exit from the Olympic tournament, Australia's Samantha Stosur is looking forward to putting Wimbledon's grass behind her as she makes the adjustment.
"Well it is quite different," Stosur said. "The balls are bouncing up a lot higher. It's different but I much prefer this surface so I'm enjoying being back on the hard court."
Maria Sharapova was expected to attend Rogers Cup, but pulled out on Tuesday with a stomach ailment. Fans in Montreal will also miss out on the Williams sisters, but the rest of the top-ranked women will enjoy a respite from Serena's red-hot form.
"I don't think anyone's that worried about not playing them," Stosur joked. "No, it's great for them, great for our sport that those two have been able to achieve what they've been able to, especially Serena in the last few months. She's really played unbelievable and she's breaking lots of records so I think it's great for our sport but we're not going to complain if we don't have to play them all the time."