Montreal | Sabalenka wins opener but Sakkari, Haddad Maia and Wozniacki join the exit line

World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka opened her Omnium Banque Nationale présenté par Rogers campaign in Montreal on Wednesday night, but she needed nearly 2 hours to move past Petra Martic, while 2 seeds fell late in the day when Leylah Fernandez took out 11th seed Beatrice Haddad Maia, and Danielle Collins upset 12th-seeded Maria Sakkari.

I would say the conditions are little bit tricky. I was practicing in Florida and the bounce was completely different. I remember, in US Open and Cincinnati, the ball bounces high. Here the ball is not bouncing at all. So it's a little tricky to play here, but I hope to adjust and play my best tennis. Aryna Sabalenka

Also out is Caroline Wozniacki, the former World No 1 who is on the come-back trail, but she lost to Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, although Petra Kvitova, the 7th seed, found her way past Camila Giorgi in 3 sets late at night.

Sabalenka, the 2nd seed from Belarus, kicked off by defeating Martic, ranked No 35 and from Croatia, 6-3 7-6(5), to advance to the Round of 16, where she faces her compatriot, 15th seed Liudmila Samsonova, for a spot in her 10th quarter-final of the season.

Playing her first match since losing in the Wimbledon semi-finals to Ons Jabeur last month, Sabalenka eased through the first set before having to fight back in a 72-minute second, in which Martic led 3-0 and served for the set at 5-3.

“Especially on this surface, I was really struggling with all her slices,” Sabalenka admitted. “I think I need some time to adjust to this surface.

“I hope, the next match, I will play a little bit better, but, overall, I’m just happy to get through this tough match.”

Sabalenka responded by using her extraordinary her firepower to break Martic to love and got herself back on serve.

In the tiebreak, Sabalenka came from 1-3 down to finally close out the 1-hour and 58-minute match.

Sabalenka finished with 38 winners, including 13 aces, to 34 unforced errors, while Martic played the cleaner match but was limited to 13 winners and struck 17 miscues.

“I would say the conditions are little bit tricky,” Sabalenka continued. “I was practicing in Florida and the bounce was completely different.

“I remember, in US Open and Cincinnati, the ball bounces high. Here the ball is not bouncing at all. So it’s a little tricky to play here, but I hope to adjust and play my best tennis.”

Sabalenka will next test herself against Samsonova, who dispatched China’s Qinwen Zheng, 6-3 6-3, in 75 minutes.

This week in Montreal, Sabalenka has a chance to overtake Iga Swiatek for the World No 1 ranking, but only if Swiatek falls before the quarter-finals, and the Belarusian wins the title.

Montreal's own Leylah Fernandez edged Beatriz Haddad Maia in a 3-set thriller in Montreal to advance to her first Canadian Open Round of 16 after a 3-hour effort

© Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the two players who caused the upsets of the day are destined to meet each other in the Last 16.

Fernandez, the last Canadian standing, thrilled her home town crowd by taking out last year’s runner-up, Haddad Maia, after a thrilling encounter.

The 2021 US Open finalist rode the emotion of a packed house at IGA Stadium to a 7-5 5-7 6-3 win over the Brazilian, the 20-year-old keeping her fans on the edge of their seats for 2 hours and 55 minutes as she advanced to the Round of 16, where her next opponent will be Collins, an American qualifier, who upset 8th-seeded Sakkari of Greece, 6-4 6-2.

Fernandez broke Haddad Maia to love to win the first set, but she missed an opportunity when she failed to win a marathon game while serving with a 4-2 lead.

The Canadian went up 40-15, but allowed Haddad Maia back into the game when a drop-shot went into the net, and she had 5 game points before the Brazilian cashed in on her 3rd break opportunity.

Haddad Maia double-faulted on break point to give Fernandez a 3-1 lead in the second, but the Canadian returned the favour in the next game.

Fernandez held a match point with the Brazilian serving at 4-5, but an unforced error let Haddad Maia off the hook, and she broke the Canadian at love for a 6-5 lead, while 3 unforced errors gifted her the set.

There were no break points in the 3rd set until the 8th game, when Fernandez unleashed a forehand pass and then put a volley away for a 5-3 lead.

She won the deciding gamer to love with Haddad Maia delivering a couple of unforced errors.

“It was unfortunate that I didn’t get that match point and I was down a bit, but l looked at my box and I saw they had confidence in me, and that helped,” said Fernandez. “When a match goes that long, adrenalin is flowing, but when I saw the two-hour mark on the clock, I said: ‘I can do another hour’.”

Fernandez has never played Collins before but she said expects to face ‘one tough cookie’ on Thursday evening.

“I watched her over the years, she’s been in Grand Slam finals and she’s fought back from injuries,” said Fernandez. “It’s going to be a tough match.”

Danielle Collins had a spat with Maria Sakkari after the No 8 bounced a ball into the stands, but prevailed for an upset win on Wednesday afternoon

© Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Collins pulled off Wednesday’s first Top 10 upset by easing past Sakkari in straight sets, the 2022 Australian Open runner-up posting her 11th career Top 10 win in an hour and 26 minutes, having already seen off Elina Svitolina from Ukraine in her opening match.

It was not without controversy, though, as, early in the second set, Sakkari smashed the ball into the ground and it bounced up into the stands.

She was quick to hold up a hand in apology to the spectators, but Collins was not going to let the matter lie, asking the chair umpire: “Did you just see that? Did you see what happened?”

Preparing for her second serve, Sakkari replied: “It didn’t even hit anyone. It was on the ground.”

Collins responded by saying ‘Shut your mouth, shut your mouth’, which only made matters worse, prompting Sakkari to ask: “What’s your problem? I didn’t hit anyone. I framed the ball.”

Unwilling to let it go, Collins said: “You hit the ball into the stands, Maria. You almost hit someone.”

Sakkari claimed she had deliberately struck the ball into the court to slow it down, and, as the crowd became more vocal, the umpire had to calm things down.

After Collins went on to win, they did shake hands at the end, but the incident prompted some debate about stricter controls over players who strike the ball in anger and/or hit someone.

Marketa Vondrousova saw off a late challenge from Caroline Wozniacki, and faces Coco Gauff, the No 6 seed next

© Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Elsewhere, Wozniacki’s come-back was halted by Vondrousova after the Czech won 6-2 7-5 to set up a Last 16 meeting with Coco Gauff.

The 33-year old Dane had returned from a 3-year layoff on Tuesday, winning 6-2 6-2 against 115th ranked Kimberly Birrell from Australia, but she found Vondrousova a much tougher proposition.

The 9th seed, though, was motoring towards a brisk victory after taking a 6-2, 3-0 lead and holding a point for 4-0, when she doubled-faulted twice to let Wozniacki off the hook.

The veteran then rallied brilliantly to take a 4-3 lead, and held a break point in the 8th game for a 5-3 lead, but Vondrousova held for 4-4 and then earned a break for a 6-5 lead before serving out to love to seal the deal.

Wozniacki, who held the World No 1 ranking for a total of 71 weeks and won the 2018 Australian Open, is slated to continue her come-back with wild-cards at Cincinnati and the US Open.

“Obviously it didn’t go the way I’d hoped, but, at the end of the day, I think, there was a lot of positives I can bring with me,” Wozniacki told the press. “I think in periods I played very well, and then in others I made a few too many unforced errors.

“All in all, I’m going in the right direction, and I think it’s to be expected after having not having played a lot of matches in a long time.”

Petra Kvitova overpowered Camila Giorgi in a late-night finish, taking the circuitous route in her 3-set win

© Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

In the last match of Day 3, Petra Kvitova, the 7th seed from the Czech Republic, took the circuitous route in her 3-set win over Italy’s Camila Giorgi, eventually winning through, 6-3 5-7 6-0, and she will now play Swiss Belinda Bencic, the No 12 seed.

The 2012 champion ousted the 2021 champion in 2 hours and 4 minutes, Kvitova having served for the second set, and then rebounding quickly to seal the win with a bagel third at around 1am in the early hours of Thursday morning.

It was a topsy-turvy affair, with the left-handed Czech cruising at 6-2, 5-4 and 30-0, only for her serve to go off kilter.

Giorgi managed to tighten things up to push for a decider, but Kvitova took charge of the proceedings again to take the win without further loss of a game.

With a 9-1 win-loss in her last 10 matches, Kvitova, who leads Bencic in their head-to-head with a 4-2 margin, is looking focused on staging another big run here at Montreal, although the two have not faced each other on the Tour since 2019.

Recently married in July to her coach, Jiri Vanek, Kvitova jokingly revealed to the press that her newly-wed husband must feel ‘terrible’ about the fact that she continues to write his pay checks.

The pair began dating in the summer of 2021 and announced their engagement in July 2022, a year before their wedding.

“It must be a terrible feeling for him, as a man, but I’m used to it,” she said during her interview with Radiozurnal. “I don’t plan to, I have no idea if he would accept an offer. But so far we’re doing well, so perhaps he shouldn’t,” she added.

She also told the Czech press that she will not be changing her name on the WTA Tour so as not to create confusion.

“Let’s not complicate it,” Kvitova told Czech publication Radiozurnal.



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