Montreal | Rain disrupts play but Swiatek prevails over Muchova

Iga Swiatek needed all of 9 hours to get past Karolina Muchova at the Omnium Banque Nationale présenté par Rogers in Montreal on Thursday, while Elena Rybakina, Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff were among the seeds to also advance to the quarter-finals at the WTA 1000 hard court tournament.

I loved it. I'm not a big movie critic, but I just think the characters and the plot were excellent, and everything that the Barbie movie stood for, I just thought it was so great. Growing up playing with Barbies, I could really relate to Weird Barbie. That was my doll. Danielle Collins

In a repeat of the French Open final, Swiatek finally defeated Karolina Muchova, 6-1 4-6 6-4, on Thursday night, after their match was interrupted by rain for nearly 6 hours.

“You have to find energy, even though we’ve been here since 9 am,” Swiatek said in her on-court interview. “For sure, it was a pretty extraordinary day, and I don’t think I’ve had such a situation in my career so there is the opportunity to learn something new and see what I’m capable — even though we played this match, like, three times.”

The win assures the World No 1 that she will retain the top spot in the rankings for the 72nd week in a row on Monday, while she leads the tour with 49 match victories this year, and only one woman in the past 4 years has exceeded that number – Swiatek herself who, last year, won 67.

She now moves ahead of Caroline Wozniacki to sit at No 10 on the list of most weeks at No 1.

Coming off her 4th title win at the Warsaw Open, the 22-year old Pole 26-year old Czech endured a 3 hour 20 minute delay following the second set, and a further 2 hours 50 minutes early in the decider.

In a repeat of the French Open final, Karolina Muchova again pushed Iga Swiatek hard but could not better the World No 1 on Thursday

© Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The match itself, which started around midday, took 2 hours and 47 minutes on court, and finished around 9.30pm as Muchova kept pace with Swiatek after the Pole romped away with the first set.

The Czech did not throw in the towel, though, rather she regained her poise long enough to snag the second set and push the match into the decider, where Swiatek showed the grit and determination that has kept at the top the rankings for well over a year.

Muchova, the 14th seed, won a higher percentage of first-serve points to the top seed, 67% to 61%, but Swiatek won 72% points returning the Czech’s second serve and took 58% of her own second-serve points.

“For sure I hit ups and downs, and I felt that,” Swiatek admitted later. “I did some mistakes in the second set that… you can’t do that, if you want to win matches at that stage.

“So, for sure, Karolina is the kind of player who is using these chances and situations, and she also put pressure in these moments, but I wanted to, kind of, reset, and go into the third set with new energy and move a little bit better.”

Swiatek won 6 of the first set’s 7 games, but that did not reflect the exceptional level of play on both sides, as Muchova was in most of the points, but broke down under the relentless pressure applied by the top seed.

Muchova earned 2 break points in the 3rd game, but Swiatek served her way out of trouble, and then held a break point herself in the 4th game, prompting the Czech to double-fault.

Serving at 3-1, Swiatek saved another threat with a terrific serve, and Muchova responded with 2 errant forehands.

The 6th game was the best of the match and, after 5 deuces, Swiatek found a way to score her second break of serve.

For the set, Swiatek saved all 4 of the break points against her, while Muchova was 5-for-7.

The second set was a glaring reversal, with Muchova losing both break points against her, and Swiatek, who was increasingly frustrated with her misfiring forehand, going 0-for-3, so much so that the Czech levelled the match, much as she had done at Roland Garros in June.

As the rain swept into Montreal, both players had ample time to cool off and prepare for the pivotal decider and when they returned, when Swiatek promptly broke Muchova to take a 1-0 lead as the rain returned.

Much later, Swiatek managed to hold and take a 2-0 lead, which was a sufficient margin to take her the rest of the way, and she finished Muchova off holding to love.

Qualifier Danielle Collins (L) took out home favourite Leylah Fernandez in straight sets on Day 4 of the National Bank Open at Stade IGA on Thursday

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Next up is qualifier Danielle Collins, who continued her resurgence in Montreal by tallying her 5th win of the week by defeating Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, 6-2 6-3.

The former World No 7, Collins has looked dangerous this week, and while Swiatek lost just one game to the American earlier this year in Doha, Collins beat her 6-4 6-1 in the Australian Open semi-finals last year.

After winning back-to-back 3-set matches in qualifying to earn her main draw spot, Collins and her new coach, Jared Jacobs, took a time-out to take in Barbie.

“I loved it,” Collins said. “I’m not a big movie critic, but I just think the characters and the plot were excellent, and everything that the Barbie movie stood for, I just thought it was so great.”

“Growing up playing with Barbies, I could really relate to Weird Barbie. That was my doll.”

With wins over Eugenie Bouchard and Emina Bektas under her belt in qualifying, Collins has raced through the main draw to make her first WTA 1000 quarter-final since 2022 Miami, beating Elina Svitolina, Maria Sakkari, and Fernandez on the way without dropping a set.

”For so much of my career, I travelled by myself without a coach, and I had a little bit of success doing that,” Collins said, “but I think it’s been huge having Jared a part of my team and being there for me and helping me evolve my game and evolve mentally.

“I feel like all of the things that he’s been bringing to the table, and holding me accountable for, is really helping me get some better results on the court.”

Swiatek and Collins may have a contrast in personalities but they do share one important thing in common, their rackets, as earlier this year, the American switched from Babolat to Technifibre after a chance trial.

“I actually tried one of the rackets off of the shelf, and I just went into a match and played with it, and it was great,” Collins said. “I clicked with the racket right away.

“They have been so helpful. Yesterday I had, kind of, a silly hiccup and I ran out of string. I didn’t have enough string for the rackets today, and the Tecnifibre team was on it. They made sure that string was here by the end of the night so that the stringers could string my rackets.”

Collins now has less than 24 hours to prepare for the challenge of facing Swiatek in the quarters.

“I’ve played Iga twice now,” Collins said. “The first time went better than the second time, so just fingers crossed that I bring my A-game and put on a good show for everyone.

“It’s been a great week, and I’ve had a lot of matches. So, yeah, I’m hoping to keep the level up.”

No 4 seed Jessica Pegula was first on and avoided the rain delays by easily defeating Jasmine Paolini in straight sets on Thursday afternoon

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In the only match completed on Wednesday afternoon, No 4 seed Jessica Pegula steamed past Italy’s Jasmine Paolini, 6-4 6-0, and she will face her 6th-seeded doubles partner, Coco Gauff, after her fellow American beat 9th-seeded Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, 6-3 6-0.

In the first match of the day, which began nearly 12 hours before Gauff polished off Vondrousova, 29-year-old Pegula broke down Paolini’s game in merely an hour and 9 minutes of play.

Pegula has split her meetings with 19-year old Gauff, having been a straight-sets winner in Dubai, while Gauff did the same in Eastbourne.

“Jess is not an easy opponent,” said Gauff, who won her 4th career title last week in Washington. “I know her very well, last time I was able to come through with the straight-set win, but I don’t think it’ll be easy.”

Her win came much later in the day after all the rain, when Gauff needed just 62 minutes to pocket a straight sets win against the Czech left-hander, breaking her opponent’s serve an impressive 5 times.

From 2-2 in the first set, Gauff won 10 of the next 11 games to improve to 2-0 against Vondrousova, and she advances to the quarter-finals at the WTA 1000 event in Canada for the 3rd straight year.

“It was a very weird match, to be honest … It was just one of those things, [waiting around] all day, I think we were just ready to go out there and play,” Gauff said afterwards. “I wasn’t expecting the scoreline to be what it was.

“She’s been playing some great tennis lately, coming off of a Slam win, so I’m super happy with how I was able to manage today.

“We were supposed to be on a bigger court, playing the reigning Wimbledon champion … I think the energy of the match was a little bit mellow, but no matter what court I’m on, I’m going to fight and try my best.”

3rd-seeded Elena Rybakina defeated Sloane Stephens to set up a quarter-final meeting with Daria Kastakina

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Third seed Elena Rybakina and 10th-seeded Daria Kasatkina set up a quarter-final against each other in Montreal, the Kazakh beating American Sloane Stephens, 6-3 6-3, in 75 minutes, while the Russian was a 6-3 6-4 winner over Czech Marie Bouzkova after an hour and 26 minutes.

Rybakina is playing her first tournament since Wimbledon, where she could not defend her title and fell in the quarter-finals against Ons Jabeur, and she prevailed against American Jennifer Brady, who recently returned to the WTA tour after 2 years and put up a great fight.

While the Kazakh secured the first break of the match in just the second game, and Stephens immediately responded with a break, Rybakina secured another in the 6th game, which proved decisive in winning the set.

Both had shaky starts in the second, losing serve, and Stephens gained confidence to keep the match even until 3-3, but another erratic service game allowed Rybakina to break to love, and she did so again at 5-3, which allowed the 3rd seed to reach her first quarter-final in Canada.

Kasatkina, too, is in good form with comfortable wins over Elise Mertens, Anna Blinkova, and Bouzkova.

Rybakina and Kasatkina have faced each other 3 times, with two wins for the Russian and one for the former Wimbledon champion.

Not all players made it onto the court on Thursday, and among those was the No 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus, who will take on the 15th-seeded Russian Liudmila Samsonova on Friday, while Petra Kvitova, the No 7 from the Czech Republic, and Swiss No 12 seed Belinda Bencic also had their 3rd-round match postponed overnight.



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