Venus wins thriller in three sets
TORONTO: Venus Williams prevailed in a three-setter but French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and 13th seed Kristina Mladenovic crashed out of Rogers Cup with first round defeats on Monday.
Venus outlasted a lengthy rain delay and pesky Romanian opponent Irina-Camelia Begu to win her opening match 6-1 3-6 6-3.
Less than a month after her run to the Wimbledon final, where she lost to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, 37-year-old Venus again had to turn back time against a young challenger.
After taking the opening set in dominant fashion, the American found herself in a fight as Irina rallied back to win a set before rain suspended action for more than an hour.
The decisive set was a rollercoaster with Venus moving ahead 3-1 only to lose consecutive games before bouncing back to seize three straight games and the match.
Earlier, Kristina was swept aside 6-2 6-3 by Czech Barbora Strycova while Jelena fell to American Varvara Lepchenko as upsets marked the start of the tournament.
Barbora’s stunning triumph was followed by another surprise victory when 12th seed Jelena lost 1-6 7-6(2) 7-6(5) to American Varvara in two hours and 36 minutes.
After breezing through the first set, the 20-year-old Jelena’s nerves began to show and unforced errors helped Jelena, 31, take the final two sets in tiebreaks.
Fan favourite Petra Kvitova, determined to improve following a knife injury to her hand inflicted by an intruder at home, beat Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 61 7-6(5).
The Czech’s six aces and 32 winners were too much for the 28-year-old Carla, who had no aces and just seven winners.
“I’m feeling pretty tired right now,” said Petra, who was trailing 4-1 in the second set before winning the tiebreak.
“I’m trying to come back as soon as possible but it is just a matter of time,” added the 14th seed.
Barbora reached the second round for the fourth straight year, while Kristina remains winless in four attempts on the Canadian hardcourts after the first match on an overcast centre court in Toronto lasted just 75 minutes.