Wimbledon finalists and tournament favorites Simona Halep and Serena Williams finally took to the court Wednesday at the Canadian Masters in Toronto.
Halep was on early during the day and look in command with a break lead in the third against American Jennifer Brady. But the pesky Brady got back to level, pushed a tiebreaker but the Wimbledon champion was too tough coming out on top 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(5).
“It was a very, very tough one,” the 2-time Canadian champ Halep said. “I expected it because I knew that she’s going to serve big and also the forehand is big.
“I was tired in the third set,” she said. “I felt the Achilles since the first point of the match. But it’s normal after a break, and also coming on the hard courts. It’s very difficult for the ankles and also for the knees. But I’m happy to go through, and hopefully tomorrow I will be okay.”
Halep will continue her title defense on Thursday against 2-time Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova who eliminated Donna Vekic in straights.
“Kuznetsova is coming after an injury, so at this moment she has nothing to lose,” Halep added. “Just to play her best and feeling good on court. I played tough matches against them, so it is not going to be easy at all.”
Serena Williams made her post-Wimbledon debut in the evening against former Australian Open semifinalist Elise Mertens. In this first meeting, Mertens led by a break in both sets but couldn’t hold as the 3-time champion Serena pulled away with a strong 6-3, 6-3 win.
Serena will now meet Ekatarina Alexandrova.
Naomi got a retirement from Tatjana Maria who withdrew from 6-2 with an ab injury.
“I thought I played really well despite the fact that we only played one set,” Osaka said. “I think that I was able to do what I wanted, which was go for the shots that I had the opportunity to. And, of course, there were, like, a couple unforced errors, but I think that’s part of the process.”
“For me, I’m just happy that it was my first match in a while and I was able to get in the groove of things quickly.”
Osaka’s win also assures her of moving past Ash Barty for the No. 1 ranking. Though Karolina Pliskova, a winner over Alison Riske in three sets, could also reclaim the top spot.
Osaka will now get a look at Polish teen Iga Swiatek who came from a set down to knock out 2010 champ Caroline Wozniacki 1-6, 6-3, 6-4.
French off her big win yesterday over Eugenie Bouchard, Canadian hope Bianca Andreescu continued her run going the distance again to dispatch Daria Kasatkina 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 winning the last four games from 5-3 down in the decider.
“She likes to change the rhythm, and that’s what I’ve been working on the most because I know players don’t like that,” Andreescu said. “We basically played each other at our own game today, and it wasn’t easy.
“At 5-3, I think I lost four games in a row….and I think I just took all that anger and just put it in my shots. That’s why I think my shots were more effective.”
Kiki Bertens will be next for Andreescu.
“I have watched her many times. She’s a very good player. I don’t expect anything easy,” Andreescu said. “I’m just going to go out there, try to enjoy myself, and give it all.”
Elina Svitolina, Belinda Bencic and Anett Kontaveit were also winners.
THURSDAY TORONTO SCHEDULE
Centre Court Starts At 11:00 am
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) v Anett Kontaveit (EST)
Bianca Andreescu (CAN) v Kiki Bertens (NED)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) v Simona Halep (ROU)
Not Before 7:00 pm
Serena Williams (USA) v Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS )
Iga Swiatek (POL) v Naomi Osaka (JPN)
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