Eugène Lapierre had 185,252 reasons to be smiling yesterday. That's how many tickets were sold for this year's Rogers Cup Canadian Open men's tennis championships and Lapierre, the tournament chairman, announced yesterday that Montreal had established yet another world record for attendance for a one-week tournament, shattering the 2005 turnout of 172,186. The record capped months of hard work by Lapierre and his staff, but the organizers were also fortunate to experience a convergence of fortuitous events. Start with the players. Nothing sells like star power, and the Rogers Cup had it to spare. The top 23 players in the ATP rankings showed up and, while there were the inevitable upsets, the top five seeds were among the final eight and three of them advanced to the semifinals. The tournament didn't get the dream final between No. 1 Roger Federer and No. 2 Rafael Nadal. But fans were introduced to 20-year-old Novak Djokovic, whose Canadian Open debut was memorable. He upset Nadal in the semifinals and then surprised Federer in the final. Djokovic made sure it was the Rogers Cup and not Roger's Cup as he dominated Federer in two tiebreakers for a 7-6 (2), 2-6, 7-6 (2) victory. It wasn't classic Federer - he had 48 unforced errors to go with his 48 winners - but the final was both entertaining and exciting. Djokovic called the victory the greatest of his career - eclipsing his win over Nadal on Saturday - and he told the fans who were cheering for Federer: "Don't be too hard on him; he can't win everything." The level of tennis was generally high and fans had a chance to cheer for a Canadian as Frank Dancevic became the first native son to reach the quarterfinals since Andrew Sznajder and Grant Connell did it in 1989. The dates for the tournament continue to be a problem with many Europeans making their first hardcourt appearances leading up to the U.S.Open and many players not wanting to peak too soon before the Grand Slam event. Nadal, for example, was satisfied with his play after taking time off, but you can bet he wants to be playing better two weeks from now in New York. The tournament also had some luck with the weather. The long-range forecast called for at least a 40-per-cent chance of rain on each of the first eight days of the tourney and there were downpours forecast for Monday and Wednesday. But, for the first time in recent memory, there were no significant rain delays. It did rain Monday morning, but it stopped in time to get most of the matches off on schedule. There was a similar scenario on Wednesday. And the attendance received a boost from the sale of reserved seats in the BN Court grandstand. Tennis Canada is fortunate it was able to grab some government money a few years back to replace the temporary grandstand with a permanent facility. I suspect the infrastructure money that provided Tennis Canada with facilities here and in Toronto is drying up. If you've been following the news in the real world, you know that governments have some genuine infrastructure needs in terms of deteriorating bridges, roads, and water and sewage systems. The success of the men's event is in direct contrast to last year's women's event, which left many fans in a foul mood because the many of the top players decided not to enter the tournament, others withdrew at the last minute and still others exited with phantom injuries. This time around, the fans in Toronto have to deal with what can only be described as unprofessional conduct on the part of the WTA Tour. The ladies have promised to clean up their act, but we'll have wait until next year to see if the situation improves. Surprisingly, the problems with the women's event haven't hurt the advance sale for next summer. Sales are running ahead of what the advance sales were for the men's event this year. That's a reflection of the tournament's status in Montreal. Surveys have shown that the majority of people who buy tickets are not rabid fans, but they attend the tournament because it's a happening, a spectacle amidst the summer parade of jazz, comedy and other festivals. And yesterday's final shows that the tennis can match any of them for entertainment value.