The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Halep outlasts Brady to kick off title defence at Rogers Cup

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August 7, 2019
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The reigning Rogers Cup presented by National Bank champion scored her first win since her dominant run at Wimbledon just three and a half weeks ago.

The World No. 4 managed to rally from behind to defeat American qualifier Jennifer Brady 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5) to advance to the third round. Halep is bidding to become just the fifth woman to win Rogers Cup three or more times in the Open Era.

Things didn’t get off to best start for the Romanian. Already trailing 1-0, Brady won four of five points in Halep’s first service game to go up a break. The reigning Wimbledon champion would however score a break of her own and save three break points to hold serve at 4-4 – much to the delight of the Romanian fans who started chanting “SI-MO-NA”. However, Halep would fail to climb out of another 0-40 hole in the final game of the set – giving Brady the early lead.

But the World No. 4 would fight her way back. She would convert a break point in the opening service game to jump in front 1-0. Later, with Halep leading 5-4, Brady won four straight points on one of the Romanian’s service games to level the set. It was here though, where the two-time Grand Slam champion took charge of the match. She went back up by a break, before holding serve to force a third and decisive set.

From there, the 27-year-old from Romania rode the momentum she generated in the previous set. She started things off with a running two-handed backhand winner to score a break. Then, in Brady’s next service game, Halep won four straight points to jump in front 3-0. Brady did her best to try and stun the Wimbledon champion. She managed to win five of the next six games to jump in front 5-4. With Brady just two points away from winning the match, Halep came up big. The Romanian won three points in a row to hold serve.

After both players traded breaks of serve, Halep grabbed an all-important mini-break in the tiebreaker to jump in front 5-4 when Brady hit a two-handed forehand into the net. The World No. 4 would then score one more mini-break, tallying it on her second match point. She will now former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round.

Pliskova, svitolina among others to advance Wednesday
Wednesday, August 7, 2019 – Karolina Pliskova plays Alison Riske in second round of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank at the Sobeys Stadium in Toronto, Ontario. (Jared Wickerham/Tennis Canada)

Right before Halep and Brady took the court, the No.3-seed Karolina Pliskova got her Rogers Cup campaign started on the right foot. Facing Alison Riske in the second round, the Czech star survived a tense three-setter 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-2. It was marked only the third time since the grass-court season started that Riske has lost (17-3 in last 20 matches).

She hasn’t fared well against Pliskova over her career. The World No. 3 has defeated Riske six times in a row, having not fallen to the American since 2012.

During the two hour and three minute affair, Pliskova tallied 11 aces, won 82% of her first-service points and converted all four of her break point opportunities. She’ll next face Anett Kontaveit in the third round.

Meanwhile, Dayana Yastremska continued to impress the fans in Toronto. Coming off an upset victory against World-No. 14 Johanna Konta, the Ukrainian took down former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in straight sets 7-5, 7-5. Yastremska totaled 47 winners and seven aces in her victory over the Belarusian.

It marked the first time in her career that Yastremska has won back-to-back Premier-level match wins. The 19 year old will now face another rising star in Sofia Kenin, who advanced by taking down the World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the second round.

Toronto’s last WTA champion, Elina Svitolina, also advanced on a busy Wednesday. Svitolina downed Katerina Siniakova 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 and sets up a tantalizing third-round matchup against Belinda Bencic. Both players have a history of winning in Toronto. Svitolina is riding a six-match winning streak in the Ontarian capital dating back to her title in 2017. While Bencic, who is playing in Toronto for the first time since being crowned champion in 2015, has won eight straight matches in the “6ix”. One of those eight wins came on Wednesday, when Bencic edged Julia Goerges 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.