Wozniak up, Dubois down at Rogers Cup
Aleksandra Wozniak hits a return to Daniela Hantuchova during their first-round match at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Que., Aug. 7, 2012. (CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/Reuters)
The crowd at Uniprix Stadium packed the stands for not one, but two hometown heroes in the main draw at the $2.1 million Rogers Cup on Tuesday.
While Stephanie Dubois of Laval, Que. lost the first match of the Canadian double-bill, Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., won the rain-delayed nightcap over Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova 7-5, 7-6 (5) to advance to the second round.
Wozniak, the No. 55 player on the WTA tour, broke Hantuchova three times in the first set, capping the frame with a lengthy deciding game that included four deuces.
After initially falling behind 4-3 in the second, she broke her Slovakian opponent twice to take a 6-5 lead.
Wozniak failed to convert three match points in the deciding game and lost to force a tiebreaker before the skies opened up over centre court.
A 55-minute rain delay chased away most of the 10,000 fans, but the 500 or so who remained were treated to an exciting tiebreaker once action resumed.
"I tried as hard as I could hard as I could for every point," said Wozniak, who advances to face No. 13 seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.
"It's important for me to look for wins here in Montreal and the crowd gave me confidence."
The evening got off to a disappointing start for the home crowd as South Africa's Stephanie Scheepers defeated Canada's Stephanie Dubois 1-6, 6-3, 6-0.
The 25-year-old appeared on her way to an easy victory, tantalizing her fans with a powerful serve and more aggression than Scheepers.
The world No. 155 broke Scheepers all three times in the first set, including two games in which the 41st-ranked player only won a single point.
The momentum continued into the start of the second set as Dubois beat Scheepers for a fourth consecutive time.
But the South African came right back to break Dubois in the second game and though the Canadian responded with a break of her own to go up 2-1, Scheepers reeled off four straight games to take the set 6-3.
Dubois didn't help herself with a litany of unforced errors, including double faults and numerous forehands into the net.
She showed promise in the third, pushing Scheepers to five deuces in the first game, but Dubois' adversary broke her serve and won the marathon game.
The decisive set was a cakewalk from then on for the emboldened South African, who breezed through in just 19 minutes.
"In the second set I couldn't break her," Dubois told reporters afterwards.
"I was making too many mistakes. I'm working on a lot of things right now, and that might be the reason that I made so many mistakes, but it's a pity I wasn't able to keep the same momentum in the second set."
Scheepers moves on to face Flavia Pennetta (No. 14) of Italy.
The third Canadian in the Rogers Cup draw has youth and momentum to spare.
Eugenie Bouchard, an 18-year-old from Montreal, plays her first match Wednesday after she received a bye into the main draw. She takes on world No. 56 Shahar Peer of Israel after a dominating run of 19 straight victories against junior and senior competition this year.
Bouchard became the first Canadian ever to win the junior Wimbledon event and she also reached the quarterfinal of the WTA event in Washington.
She rose to 237th in the WTA rankings from 294.
First-round Rogers Cup action got underway earlier on Tuesday as qualifier Jana Cepelova of Slovakia surprised 50th-ranked Swede Sofia Arvidsson 6-3, 6-3.
The rising 19-year-old is ranked 117th in the world after reaching the quarterfinals in Washington. She'll move on to face Italy's Sara Errani, the No. 8 seed, in the second round.
Also on Tuesday, No. 28 Roberta Vinci of Italy and Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium faced off at centre court in the first match of the day.
Vinci won 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 against Wickmayer, ranked 30th in the world.
Meanwhile, on National Bank Court, Ekaterina Makarova of Russia went down by a score of 6-4, 6-2 to Poland's Urszula Radwanska.
Radwanska had lost in the third round of qualifying but she moved on to the first round nonetheless after Russia's Maria Kirilenko withdrew from the tournament.
Once again, the Williams sisters are staying away from the Rogers Cup but tournament Director Eugene Lapierre brushes off suggestions the sisters are boycotting the event.
"Serena's agent sent us a message Friday to say it would be too complicated for his client to be ready for Montreal (because of the Olympic final)," Lapierre told QMI Agency.
"Serena and Venus do not play many tournaments each year and I do not think they are boycotting the Rogers Cup. We have proven over the years that we're one of the best tournaments in the world."
Serena Williams has not played in Montreal since 2000.
Kirilenko, the 14th-ranked player in the world, cited a leg injury for her decision not to play in Montreal ... This year's Rogers Cup women's final is scheduled for Monday instead of Sunday, giving athletes more time to adjust to the Eastern time zone following the Olympics. The men's tournament final in Toronto is scheduled for Sunday as usual ... Eight Canadians were in the weekend qualifying draw, with Francoise Abanda of Laval, Que., making it to the third round before falling 6-0, 6-3 to 18th seed and world No. 106 Sesil Karatantcheva ... The Rogers Cup Hall of Fame welcomed inductees Jim Courier of the United States and Martina Hingis of Switzerland on Monday.
WEDNESDAY ACTION (ALL TIMES EDT
No. 8 Sara Errani (Italy) vs. Jana Cepelova (Slovakia), 2 p.m.
No. 16 Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) vs. Sesil Karatantcheva (Kazakhstan), 4 p.m.
No. 5 Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs. Ksenia Pervak (Kazakhstan), 6 p.m.
No. 15 Flavia Pennetta (Italy) vs. Scheepers/Dubois winner, 7:30 p.m.
No. 4 Samantha Stosur (Austria) vs. Simona Halep (Romania), 8 p.m.