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September 19, 2014

Pay hike on its way for SSM Health employees

Filed under: Uncategorized, legal — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 9:08 am

The holiday season could be a happy one for a vast majority of SSM Health’s employees across the health system’s four-state footprint.

The Creve Coeur-based nonprofit health care provider says it will increase eligible employees’ salaries by 2 percent starting this November, crediting the success of a cost-cutting initiative that began last fall.

In a letter sent to employees Sept. 12, CEO Bill Thompson wrote: “We are committed to providing fair and market-competitive salaries and benefits to our employees. It is also one of the reasons we have been working so hard to achieve our budget and end the year with strong financial performance. ”

The customary annual raises were temporarily suspended for eligible employees in 2014 as the health system tried to steer its finances back to black. Employees who missed their scheduled pay raise period (for most, that would have been in May), they’ll receive a lump sum come November to make up for the lost wage hike.

SSM employs 30,000 individuals, and those eligible for the pay increase include part-time employees, clinicians, managers and executives. New hires are excluded.

The boost in take-home pay comes on the heels of SSM’s success with a $150 million cost reduction plan that was implemented late last year to improve finances heading into fiscal 2014. Last year the health system posted a $74.3 million loss.

“To state the obvious, we exceeded our plan’s goals,” said Kris Zimmer, senior vice president of finance for SSM, said of the wage increase.

Through the six months ended June 30 operating income was $82.3 million, compared with a $1.3 million operating loss during the same period last year, a financial statement shows.

OVERHEAD TARGETED

A big chunk of the cost-cutting plan revolved around reducing overhead costs, which included eliminating 586 positions last October, restructuring management and reevaluating outsourced services.

One of the larger changes under the umbrella of cutting overhead costs was the decision to bring the legal team in-house. That represented a $4 million savings across its entire system throughout Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Oklahoma this year alone, Zimmer said payday loan lenders.

Locally, bringing legal in-house meant Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale lost some of its business with SSM. Greensfelder spokesman Steve Houston said no jobs were cut as a result of SSM’s move. Zimmer said SSM will use Greensfelder on an as-needed basis for “highly specialized” cases.

Other gains were made by improving the way payments are collected, which Zimmer said stemmed from better documentation of the care that was provided to improve reimbursement from payers like federal and state governments.

INTEREST-FREE LOANS

Also, this year SSM began offering patients interest-free loans in partnership with Commerce Bank to better collect unpaid medical bills.

The health system is also working to better predict staffing needs to reduce overtime pay. And the health system is working to better align the physician practices they’ve acquired over the years, a move that helps cut costs as those independent businesses can utilize the economies of scale the health system has to offer.

Earlier this month, the Post-Dispatch reported the health system had decided to change its name to SSM Health; dropping the “care” from its name. Currently, the entire system has more than 100 names, logos and brands. Rolling out one name and one logo for the entire system will eventually reduce marketing costs, Zimmer said.

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September 17, 2014

Ebola, not Putin or terrorism, is the real threat: Walkom

Filed under: online ads, term — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 7:24 pm

The gravest threat facing Canada and the world today is not terrorism.

Nor is it Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The gravest threat is a deadly virus known as Ebola. It is leapfrogging across West Africa at an accelerating rate.

It has killed almost 2,500 and is expected to kill thousands more.

Left unchecked, it is only a matter of time until the virus reaches North America. Given the incubation period of the disease, a traveller suffering from Ebola could pass through Canadian airport border controls without being aware he was infected and without showing any symptoms.

The World Health Organization says that up to 90 per cent of those who contract the disease will die.

The Americans have belatedly come to understand the seriousness of this epidemic. They have beefed up aid to West African nations such as Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Even cash-strapped Cuba is sending 165 medical workers to West Africa to help stop the epidemic before it crosses the Atlantic.

Yet Canada’s government treats this outbreak as a problem that has little to do with us.

“This is a major epidemic in that part of the world and we are concerned about it,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in July, in one of his rare comments on Ebola.

The United Nations says that $1 billion is required to bring the disease to heel in West Africa.

U.S. President Barack Obama has come up with $175 million and wants his country’s Congress to provide $88 million more.

On top of this, he is dispatching 3,000 troops to build treatment centres in West Africa. The Pentagon estimates that its role in the fight against Ebola will cost $500 million.

Canada, by comparison, is taking the cheapskate’s route.

Some research on an Ebola vaccine has been done by the Public Health Agency of Canada. The agency is also operating a small diagnostic lab in Sierra Leone.

But in total, Ottawa has so far committed only $7.5 million to fight Ebola on the ground.

That figure includes $2.5 million worth of supplies, such as rubber gloves, that the federal government already had in stock.

In the Commons Monday, opposition MPs asked why the government has not mobilized its military Disaster Assistance Response Team to West Africa.

They received no answer.

If the government were equally stingy in other areas of foreign affairs, its tepid response to Ebola might make sense.

But it is not. Ottawa has pledged $15 million to Iraq to help that country fight Islamic State militants. That alone is double what the federal government is spending on Ebola.

The federal government has also dispatched two Royal Canadian Air Force cargo planes to Iraq to shuttle weapons as well as “dozens” of military advisers.

The cost of this military component has not been made public.

Iraq is not the only conflict zone that attracts Canadian government money.

As part of its effort to contain Putin’s Russia, Ottawa is providing next-door Ukraine with non-lethal military aid (cost unknown).

Harper’s government has also promised Ukraine $220 million in economic aid to help it reduce its dependence on Russia.

On Wednesday, the prime minister vowed that Canada would support Ukraine in its efforts against Russia even if the struggle took 50 years.

But then funding conflict never seems to be a problem for politicians. As long as they are seen to be countering a recognizable human villain, money is always available.

In 2011, the federal government spent $104 million to take part in NATO’s air war against Libya’s eccentric but brutal dictator, Moammar Gadhafi.

Hotel bills alone cost Canada $11.5 million in that war, which left Libya in chaos.

The 12-year-long Afghan War against Taliban “scumbags” is estimated to have cost Canada somewhere between $14 billion and $18 billion.

To put that figure in context, the amount that Canada spent in just one year of that pointless war would be more than enough, by UN reckoning, to solve the entire Ebola crisis.

Source

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September 14, 2014

Anti-euro party polls well in German state votes

Filed under: Uncategorized, canada — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 2:52 pm

Updated at 11:44 a.m.

BERLIN • An exit poll indicates that an upstart anti-euro group has won seats in two more German state legislatures in regional elections.

The ARD television exit poll put support for the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party at 10 percent or more in Sunday’s elections in the eastern states of Thuringia and Brandenburg. It won its first seats in a state legislature two weeks ago.

AfD advocates ending the euro in its current form but also has appealed to protest voters with tough talk on crime and immigration.

Other parties say they won’t govern with AfD.

It wasn’t clear whether a three-party alliance led by the Left Party, which has ex-communist roots, would have enough support to oust Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives from the governor’s office in Thuringia.

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September 12, 2014

Chris Davis drug suspension levels playing field: Griffin

Filed under: loans, money — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 9:20 pm

The Orioles were stunned on Friday when Major League Baseball suspended infielder Chris Davis a total of 25 games for use of a banned stimulant, confirmed by the players’ association in a statement from Davis as the ADD/ADHD treatment drug Adderall. He will miss the final 17 games of the regular season and then eight more, either in the post-season or at the start of 2015.

Baltimore entered Friday’s games with a 10-game lead in the AL East, with a magic number of eight over both the Jays and the Yankees. The loss of Davis will begin to show in the playoffs.

“I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the Orioles organization and especially the fans,” Davis said in the statement. “I made a mistake by taking Adderall. I had permission to use it in the past, but do not have a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) this year. I accept my punishment and will begin serving my suspension immediately.”

Adderall has been on MLB’s list of banned stimulants since the 2006 season. The therapeutic use exemption to which Davis referred is for players who have a doctor’s prescription. Adderall is a treatment for narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. It contains a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, central nervous system stimulants that affect chemicals in the brain and nerves that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. It is no doubt a performance enhancer in terms of energy and recovery if used without the presence of ADHD.

There was immediate (and justifiable) skepticism back in 2005 when the medical exemption was announced in the new drug agreement. Major league players applied for the exception like teenaged girls rushing to line up for tickets to a One Direction concert. Both made no sense. The number of players claiming they had the disorder was far greater than the norm in the general population.

As such, baseball set up a three-person panel to consider all applications. One of the reasons was that they wanted to weed out the frauds. With Davis losing his exemption, does that mean the panel did not believe he needed Adderall for ADHD? That is a possibility.

In 2013, MLB revealed that 119 players had been granted the exemption, which worked out to 9.9 per cent of all 40-man rosters. The percentage of adults in the general population with the disorder was just 4.4. If Davis had the exemption for the previous two seasons but then not in 2014, he was cheating.

“It comes down to breaking the rule,” the Rays’ ever-sage manager, Joe Maddon, said prior to Friday’s game against the Jays. “That’s what it’s there for. That’s part of the level playing field of our game. It’ll just be a big loss to Baltimore. The rule’s there for a reason. The system works.”

While the impact on the sport from the negative implications and fan reaction will not be as dramatic as it would have been for steroids, Maddon is correct. The fact is that decades ago in baseball, veteran players who were suffering normal fatigue or liked to live nightlife to the fullest would take advantage of amphetamines, and a variety of stimulants since banned under the Basic Agreement, to continue producing through the dog days of August and September. It was an accepted part of the clubhouse day-to-day existence.

Does it now seem fair? Davis has been suspended for using a drug that more than 100 other major-league players are taking legally. Yes, it’s fair. The answer comes from his own statement, that he is no longer exempt yet continued to use. As Maddon suggests, there must be a level playing field.

“I don’t know why that doesn’t just carry over, unless you can be cured of it,” Jays manager John Gibbons said, reflecting the opinion of many. “I don’t know. That’s kind of surprising. If you had it one year, it ought to kick in automatically I would think, but it’s not my department.”

The O’s have been resilient. They survived the loss of all-star catcher Matt Wieters. They continued to win after losing third baseman Manny Machado — now out for the year — for the second time. Now they must stay strong without Davis, who leads all major leaguers in homers since 2012.

The Blue Jays are the team that would seem to benefit the most by his absence from the lineup. Davis is a Jays killer. In the past three seasons he has 21 homers against Toronto, and with six games left between the teams he would likely have been good for a couple more.

Meanwhile, this has been Davis’s worst year of the last three in Baltimore, batting .196 with a .300 on-base, just 16 doubles and 26 homers. Do the O’s need his bat to win? In 40 games since July 27, he hit .182 with nine homers and 21 RBIs. In those games the O’s were 27-13.

Source

September 11, 2014

Ameren overearnings complaint fails to sway Missouri regulators

Filed under: online ads, technology — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:24 am

Ameren Missouri customers won’t be seeing lower bills anytime soon after an overearnings complaint from its largest customer failed to sway state utility regulators.

In a Wednesday hearing, Missouri Public Service Commissioners said they did not agree with an overearnings complaint filed by Noranda Aluminum, which had accused the utility of making $50 million in excess profits. That could have led to lower bills for Ameren customers, who have seen electric bills rise by about 40 percent since 2006.

While the PSC still must issue a final ruling, the commissioners said Noranda did not convince them that Ameren was consistently earning above the profit level they set.

“Noranda had to meet the burden of proof,” Commissioner Stephen Stoll said. “I don’t believe they did prove that Ameren’s rates were unjust and unreasonable.”

Noranda had contended that Ameren overearned by $50 million last year, half of which it attributed to an allowed rate of return that was too high. While the PSC staff agreed that Ameren appeared to have earned about $25 million above its rate of return last year, it maintained that earnings flatten out over time and a more comprehensive study was needed first no fax payday loan. PSC commissioners agreed.

“This system envisions that revenues, expenses and profits will fluctuate, sometimes significantly … but will even out over time,” Commissioner Daniel Hall said.

The PSC ruling against Noranda is the second loss at the commission this year for the Missouri aluminum smelter, which also sought to lower its rates with a concurrent PSC action filed in February. That request would have lowered its rates at the expense of other Ameren customers, who would have likely seen rate increases.

Noranda filed the overearnings complaint at the same time, which won the support of consumer groups that regularly fight against higher utility rates. The commission denied Noranda’s rate request last month, and Noranda said last week it would lay off 125 to 200 people as a result of the decision.

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September 9, 2014

Stormy fall weather in southern Ontario forecast

Filed under: Uncategorized, news — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 7:16 pm

As a lukewarm summer draws to a close in the GTA, The Weather Network is warning people to brace for the “rollercoaster” of fall temperatures ahead.

The Canadian forecaster’s fall outlook said southern Ontario can expect a typical “transitional” fall weather pattern characterized by stretches of warm weather and sudden bouts of cold temperatures.

But Chris Scott, The Weather Network’s chief meteorologist, said the turning point in autumn weather patterns, around mid-October, could mark the start of a stormy couple of months for the GTA.

“Watch for more blasts of chilly air and potential for big fall storms,” Scott said. “We do think it’s going to be an active fall.”

The fall outlook cites a developing El Nino in the tropical Pacific Ocean combined with a cooler summer as cause for the potential for dips in the average temperature over the next couple of months.

Scott said southern Ontario residents can still expect to enjoy stretches of warm weather through Thanksgiving weekend, and are not in danger of seeing winter storms until the tail end of the season.

“We’re not in any danger of heading into mixing with snow or anything like Alberta’s getting anytime soon,” he said.

According to The Weather Network, Calgary was hit with between 5 and 15 cm of snow on Monday. Scott called Toronto’s fall forecast “tame” in comparison.

Unlike Sudbury, Barrie or areas north of the Oak Ridges Moraine, southern Ontarians can expect to be protected from early winter storms because of the “insulation factor” the Great Lakes provide. But if enough cold air sweeps through, it could mean snow is in the mix for storms in late November.

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September 6, 2014

New Town residents fight plan for conventional subdivision

Filed under: legal, technology — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 1:24 pm

ST. CHARLES • Bob and Cindy Messmer moved to the New Town area three years ago, drawn by modern homes of various sizes and price tags on an old-style street grid with easy walking to shops, restaurants and recreation.

Now the Messmers and many of their neighbors are fighting a suburban-style subdivision proposed for New Town’s southeast edge along Boschertown Road.

The City Council would have to remove the 93-acre tract from the “new urbanist” district it authorized in 2003.

“To diminish that vision at this point … would be a big step backward,” Bob Messmer, an architect, told the council Tuesday night.

Another resident, Lindsay Sutton, was more blunt. “Please don’t let our land be sold off to make another everyday ordinary subdivision,” she said.

The proposed builder, Tom Hughes, says New Town is a wonderful place but not for everyone. He says there’s also consumer demand for a more conventional, lower-density development in the immediate vicinity.

“We believe folks need to have a choice of a different type of lifestyle” in the area served by Orchard Farm public schools, he said. A current suburban-type subdivision nearby, Charlestowne, will be sold out in a few months, he added.

He pointed out that several hundred other lots in other parts of New Town will still be available through two other builders.

The Hughes project, Charlestowne Crossing, would have 234 single-family homes plus a new elementary school planned by the Orchard Farm district.

New Town has about 1,300 dwellings with approximately 3,000 residents. The original New Town developer, Greg Whittaker of Whittaker Builders, had envisioned as many as 5,700 homes going up there over 15 to 20 years.

Home building has continued although the pace slowed with the recession that took hold in 2008.

After Whittaker Builders encountered financial difficulties in the recession, a consortium of banks — WBI Resolution LLC — took over ownership of much of New Town as well as the Whittaker firm’s role as overseer of the New Town plan.

Greg Whittaker is still involved in the project through NT Home Builders, a company he manages and that bought some New Town land from WBI Resolution, said NT attorney Brad Goss.

Goss also represents Hughes’ group, which last year purchased 305 acres from WBI Resolution, including the 97 it now wants removed from the city’s New Town zoning rules.

Last month WBI removed the tract from its internal New Town regulations and said it no longer considered the area to be part of the development.

Opponents worry that allowing the conventional subdivision could set a precedent.

“In the next few years, you’re going to find more young families that want to build and there’s not going to be any more room in New Town,” said resident Ariane Cameron.

Goss said, however, that Hughes had made no decision on what to do with the rest of the New Town land his group bought.

“He’s willing to sit down and talk to people” about it, Goss said.

Hughes said the 234 lots he wanted to remove from New Town were offset by the addition last year of 236 residential lots on land originally slated for warehouse-type uses.

Critics also say that removing the tract would reduce the potential pool of homeowner fees that fund some New Town amenities and hurt current and future residents. Fewer areas for businesses in the mixed-use development also will be available, they warn.

More than 100 people, most of them opponents of the plan, packed into the council hearing on the issue. A vote is expected on Sept. 23.

Kim Higgins, who lives in the conventional Stable Ridge area nearby, was among a handful attending who supported Hughes’ request.

“I hate to see it sit empty year after year and no progress,” she said, referring to the vacant tract. She added that people in her area have a strong sense of community just as New Town residents do.

“We walk our dogs, too; we talk to our neighbors,” Higgins said. “We watch out for our children just the same.”

Supporters of Hughes’ request may have the upper hand politically, because six of the 10 council members are listed as co-sponsors. Seven votes are needed for passage.

A two-thirds majority is required because the city’s planning and zoning commission voted 6-2 last month to recommend against council approval.

A commission report said some members believed removing the tract would have a negative impact on New Town. The report also cited “incompatibility” of the Charlestowne Crossing home design with those in New Town.

Mayor Sally Faith, a planning commission member, was among those voting against Hughes’ proposal. However, she hasn’t said if she would veto or sign the bill if the council passes it. Veto overrides require seven votes.

Council President Dave Beckering, the bill’s sponsor, told the crowd Tuesday night that the vote was about the best use of the land.

“Nobody else wanted to buy it to build anything on it, let alone New Town-style homes,” he said.

Moreover, he said, it’s St. Charles’ only viable option for large-scale residential development inside the city limits. He said there was also little land available for annexation.

Councilman Rod

Herrmann, whose ward includes New Town, sides with opponents. He said the original developer “had a dream and a vision, and these folks here believed in it.”

“They know it could take 15 or 20 years, and they’re willing to wait,” he said.

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September 3, 2014

Millennials

Filed under: finance, money — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 6:16 am

Success stories like Trevor Lynn

September 1, 2014

Markets drift as Wall Street has day off

Filed under: Uncategorized, legal — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 2:04 pm

LONDON (AP) — Ahead of a raft of economic developments this week, financial markets started the week on a lackluster note Monday as Wall Street was closed for the Labor Day holiday.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 0.1 percent at 6,825.31 while Germany’s DAX rose the same rate to 9,479.03. The CAC-40 in France ended a tad lower at 4,379.73. Earlier in Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.8 percent to 2,235.51 points and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 0.3 percent to 15,476.60. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was marginally higher, adding 0.04 percent to 24,752.09.

UKRAINE: In Europe, the crisis in Ukraine remains a key source of interest for traders. On Monday, there were signs that a breakthrough may be in the offing as pro-Russian rebels appeared to soften their demand for full independence, saying they would respect Ukraine’s sovereignty in exchange for autonomy. The insurgents’ platform, released at the start of Monday’s negotiations in Minsk, the Belarusian capital, represented a significant change in their vision for the future of Ukraine’s eastern, mainly Russian-speaking region.

GLOBAL MANUFACTURING: There were some worrying signs however that the global manufacturing sector is waning. Two surveys showed China’s manufacturing growth slowed in August as export demand and investment weakened, raising expectations Beijing might launch more stimulus. HSBC Corp. said its purchasing manufacturers index fell to 50.2 from July’s 18-month high of 51.7 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show an expansion. An official industry group, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, said its separate PMI declined to 51 no fax pay day loan.1 from 51.7. A similar picture emerged for the 18-country eurozone, with the August PMI from financial information company Markit down at a 13-month low of 50.7. On Tuesday, the Institute for Supply Management publishes its estimate for the U.S. economy.

EUROPE: Whether the weak economic indicators coming out of the eurozone will prompt the European Central Bank to enact further stimulus measures at its monthly policy meeting on Thursday remains open to question. Bank chief Mario Draghi called in a speech last month for fiscal policies to support growth, a departure from the ECB’s implicit support for austerity. No immediate steps are expected but the bank has begun work on a program to buy asset-backed securities.

EURO IN RETREAT: The crisis in Ukraine and weak eurozone economic data have combined to hurt the euro currency over the past few months. On Monday, it fell to a near year-low of $1.3119.

U.S. ECONOMY: After Thursday’s ECB meeting, traders will be fully focusing on the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for August. The release often setts the market tone for a week or two after its release as traders try and work out when the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates. Investor confidence over the U.S. economy has risen following several months of strong growth in hiring and corporate profits and a series of major corporate acquisitions.

ENERGY MARKETS: U.S. benchmark crude for October was down 25 cents at $95.71 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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August 29, 2014

Canadians Eugenie Bouchard, Milos Raonic advance at U.S. Open

Filed under: online ads, term — Tags: , , , — Snowman @ 5:40 am

NEW YORK—Think of the court in Arthur Ashe Stadium as the tennis equivalent of Broadway: U.S. Open newcomers can bask in the bright lights, or they can get a nasty case of stage fright. And Thursday night was Eugenie Bouchard’s debut.

Well, the reviews are in, and according to the most fearsome critic of all — the scoreboard — Bouchard is definitely a drama queen, in the best of ways. With a 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-4 win over Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, she earned a place in the tournament’s third round, her best career U.S. Open performance.

“I definitely had to battle,” Bouchard said on court after the match. “I just believed in myself and told myself to keep fighting.”

The expectations are higher than this for Bouchard, this tournament’s seventh seed. She is the only woman to play in the semifinals of every major this season, and became Canada’s first Grand Slam finalist at Wimbledon. So the third round probably isn’t going to cut it.

Bouchard will be joined there by Milos Raonic, another player who has lofty goals. He defeated Peter Gojowczyk, the world’s 124th ranked player, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (3), in a match that took just over three hours.

It was a win, but like Bouchard’s it wasn’t entirely comfortable.

“The thing is, I wasn’t going for it enough,” Raonic said. “It’s about getting through. It’s about finding a way, and getting through. That’s what I was able to do. I have one day now to get better and I know I’ll play better my next match.”

Things seemed wobbly from the start. Raonic started the match, the very first point, with a double fault. A double fault? If his serve was off, that could be trouble. And then there was his forehand, his backup weapon of choice and a usually reliable tool for dispatching opponents. Except it kept going wide. And occasionally long.

Plus, there was the usual New York drama. What looked like feathers, or maybe little pieces of Kleenex, floated lazily past, as ballboys chased them my credit score. Towels flapped in the wind; the chair umpire regularly chided spectators wandering through both players’ sightlines just as they were about to serve — “move quickly,” she sighed at one point, “wherever you are going.”

Bouchard walked onto her court just as Raonic walked off his. She was scheduled for the second match of the evening on Ashe, which seats nearly 24,000 people. It’s considered a showcase, so Bouchard’s schedule — as inconvenient as it was for, say, newspaper deadlines — was a compliment to her potential and her popularity.

“Usually, you’ve got to win a Slam, be No. 1 in the world, or be an American to get the lead role in a match here,” said ESPN’s Mike Tirico. “The match is not in there tonight because of Cirstea. It’s because of Bouchard.

“So that says a lot about the star power — we think you’re going to be so good, we’re going to put you on the card here because people want to see you.”

At first, it seemed like it might be a speedy event. Bouchard cruised through the first set, taking just 28 minutes to claim the frame. The second act, though, contained far more tension: it lasted an hour and a minute, and Cirstea won the second set in a tiebreak.

The match stretched into a second hour, and the final minutes, of course, were where the real drama unfolded. Cirstea may have come into the match ranked 80th in the world, but just last summer she was within reach of the top 20, and she was a finalist at the Rogers Cup in Toronto (where she ultimately lost 6-2, 6-0 to Serena Williams.)

But Bouchard capitalized on a double fault by the Romanian at 3-3, and actually had a match point at 5-3, but Cirstea came back and forced the final game.

Bouchard acknowledged how close she came to having her name taken off the playbill.

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