Tennis

Toronto | Swiatek cruises as seeds tumble

While top seed Iga Swiatek cruised into the 3rd-round at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers on Wednesday, 2nd-seeded Anett Kontaveit was dispatched by Jil Teichmann as the other top seeds prevailed, barring Ons Jabeur and Paula Badosa, both of whom retired from their respective matches.

I think it was just the fighting spirit of both of us. She’s very consistent, and I really had to push through, especially in the tough moments. I think I played those key moments a bit better today. Bianca Andreescu

Swiatek, the World No 1, had no trouble getting past Australian qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic, 6-1 6-2, in her opener, which takes her hard-court winning streak to 20 matches after a clinical performance that lasted an hour and 4 minutes.

The Pole converted 6 of her 9 break point chances as she connected on 70.3 per cent of her return points, 26 of 37, and while Tomljanovic converted both break points she had, she struggled to take advantage and had trouble defending her serve.

In 2019 in her first main draw appearance in Toronto, Swiatek reached the 3rd round as a teenager before falling to the then World No 2 seed Naomi Osaka.

“It really gave me extra motivation,” the 21-year old said. “Because, even though I lost this match against Naomi, I remember I was just happy that I could play such a tight match against her.

“She was World No 1 back then, so it was a big deal for me for sure.”

Swiatek has revealed her sister Agata, who is 3 years older, was the more disciplined, although she was thought to be the more talented of the siblings.

“When we were little, most of the attention – I mean the number of training sessions and the coach’s involvement – was focused on Agata,” Swiatek told Przeglad Sportovy recently. “This was probably because she was older, so everything she did was more advanced.

“I remember that whenever someone compared us, or I heard my dad say something about us, surreptitiously, I was always the more talented, but Agata was the diligent one.

“As a child I was very energetic and maybe even a bit absent-minded so, sometimes, I needed a reality check to have a sense of duty, to learn regularity and discipline. Agata, on the other hand, had it right from the start.”

Before she picked up a racket, she tried swimming and admitted she never really liked it, but she had felt an instant connection with tennis.

“I didn’t like it, I was afraid of water,” she said. “Even now I don’t enjoy swimming. I prefer to just splash around. Besides, I spent time in the pool when I was recovering from injuries so the associations are grim.

“I was not a talented swimmer but, from what I heard, my sister was. Life has its own way and a series of events led to us doing different things.

“I took up tennis and I’m very happy about it because, unlike swimming, this sport suits me.”

Beatriz Haddad Maia upset local favourite Leylah Fernandez, the 19th seed, in the 2nd-round of Toronto

© Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Swiatek will next face Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia, who silenced the home crowd with a 7-6(4) 6-1 upset over their local favourite, 13th seeded Leylah Fernandez.

The Canadian was playing in her first tournament following a 2-month layoff to recover from a stress fracture in her right foot that she sustained at the French Open.

She and her sister Bianca Jolie then teamed up in the doubles tournament, losing to Andreja Klepac & Alexa Guarachi of Chile, 6-1 6-2.

“It’s a little hard today because we just finished with two losses,” Fernandez said. “I’m just happy that I finally was back in competition and that we not only tested out the foot but also the body. The body feels great.

“Of course, not at the level that we want it to be, but at least we know what we need to work.”

While Fernandez showed plenty of fight in the first set of her singles match, she faded under the powerful attack of an increasingly confident Haddad Maia in a battle between the left-handers.

19-year old Zheng Qinwen was leading 6-1, 2-1 when Ons Jabeur pulled out with abdominal pains on Wednesday

© Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Elsewhere, Kontaveit was ousted 6-4 6-4 by Teichmann in an hour and 27 minutes, with the Swiss breaking the Estonian 4 times in 6 tries, and although she had her chances, the No 2 seed could only convert just 2 of her 8 break point opportunities.

Teichmann beat former World No 1 Venus Williams in the 1st-round, and will square off against another former World No 1 in 2-time National Bank Open champion Simona Halep in the Round of 16, in their first meeting.

Halep, the 15th seed, saw off Zhang Shuai, 6-4 6-2, in a battle between the 30-year old Romanian and 33-year old Chinese that lasted an hour and 11 minutes.

Other top players to depart were Ons Jabeur, the 5th-seed, who retired against rising talent, 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen, also from China, who was leading 6-1, 2-1 when the Tunisian withdrew from their 2nd-round match due to abdominal pain.

Also on Wednesday, Badosa, the 4th seed from Spain, was down 7-5, 1-0 when she was forced to retire against Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, ranked 46, due to muscle cramping.

Putintseva takes on Alison Riske-Amritraj after the American up-ended former Roland Garros champion Elena Ostapenko, the 16th-seeded Latvian, 7-6(2) 0-6 7-5, after 2 hours and 21 minutes.

The World No 35, who beat 2-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the first round, claimed her first win against Ostapenko in their 3 meetings, having previously fallen to the Latvian at the 2019 US Open and this year’s Australian Open.

Zheng has now collected 2 hard-court match-wins in a row at tour-level for the first time since January, and also garnered the first Top 10 win of her career with the victory over Jabeur.

The World No 51, who is in the midst of her breakthrough season, which she started ranked at 143, was the only player to claim a set from eventual champion Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros.

Zheng will meet the last standing Canadian in the draw, Bianca Andreescu, who found a way past the tricky Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet, 6-3 4-6 6-3, after 2 hours 26 minutes.

The Chinese has now collected two hard-court match-wins in a row at tour-level for the first time since January, and she has also garnered the first Top 10 win of her career.

The last Canadian standing, Bianca Andreescu, beat Alizé Cornet in 3 sets at Sobeys Stadium on Wednesday

© Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Andreescu, who won the tournament here in Toronto in 2019, notched up her second key win on home soil this year against a player who has troubled her in the past.

“I think it was just the fighting spirit of both of us,” Andreescu said. “She’s very consistent, and I really had to push through, especially in the tough moments.

“I think I played those key moments a bit better today.”

The former US Open champion backed up her Top 10 win over Daria Kasatkina from the first round, firing 27 winners past Cornet against a matching 27 unforced errors in the encounter, but the Frenchwoman finished with less clean numbers than the Canadian, 21 winners to 30 unforced errors.

“I think especially in these tight matches, those are the key moments that you really need under your belt. And when you have them it definitely gives you a lot of confidence. And I hope I can continue that the rest of the tournament.”

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova, the 14th seed from Czech Republic, was an easy winner over American Amanda Anisimova, 6-1 6-1, and will play Maria Sakkari of Greece in the round of 16.

Coco Gauff edged herself past Elena Rybakina in a 3rd-set breaker to meet Aryna Sabalenka in the Last 16

© Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

No 8 seed Garbiñe Muguruza from Spain scored her first Top 50 win since Madrid 2022 in the 2nd-round, defeating Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, 6-4 6-4, to reverse her Roland Garros loss to the Estonian.

Muguruza took an early 4-1 lead and although Kanepi, now ranked 31 in the world, pulled back to level, she lost her serve in the next game, while the Spaniard held on to close it out.

In the second, Kanepi went up 3-1 before Muguruza won 3 games in a row to take the lead ahead of breaking the Estonian and serving out the tight encounter.

Muguruza fired 2 aces against her 5 doubles-faults, while Kanepi served up 4 and committed 2 doubles.

Kanepi also had a slightly better first service success rate, 56 percent to 52 percent, but Muguruza won 60 percent off her first serve, to the Estonian’s 55 percent.

Their unforced error count was almost equal, Kanepi with 22 to Muguruza’s 20, but the Spaniard maintained a 100% success rate of 4 out of 4 break point chances, while the Estonian could only convert 2 of her 12 break points opportunities.

Muguruza next takes on Belinda Bencic, the No 12 seed, after the Swiss saw off Serena Williams, 6-2 6-4, in the American’s tearful final appearance at the Canadian Open.

In other results, 10th seed Coco Gauff of the United States beat Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, 6-4 6-7(8) 7-6 (3), while defending champion Camila Giorgi of Italy continued her run after upsetting Britain’s Emma Raducanu by downing Belgium’s Elise Mertens, 6-3 7-5, and 7th-seeded Jessica Pegula downed fellow American Asia Muhammad, 6-2 7-5.

Gauff needed nearly 3 hours to beat the Wimbledon champion, squandering 4 match points in the second set, but she eventually defeated Rybakina in the decider after surviving 13 double-faults in the match.

She advances to an encounter with Aryna Sabalenka after the 6th seed was a 6-4 6-3 winner over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo on Wednesday.

The Belarusian, a semi-finalist in Montreal last year, struggled with 16 double-faults, but when she got her first serve into play, she was the stronger of the two, winning 62 percent of her first-service points, while Sorribes Tormo won 45 percent of hers.

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