Andreescu, Auger-Aliassime win all-Canadian openers

Published by Tennismash / AAP

Bianca Andreescu (R) hugs Eugenie Bouchard after winning their first-round match in the first round in Toronto (Getty Images)
Bianca Andreescu defeats Eugenie Bouchard in three sets in Toronto after Felix Auger-Aliassime overcomes Vasek Pospisil in a third-set tiebreak in Montreal.

Bianca Andreescu overcame Eugenie Bouchard in a compelling match in Toronto to move into the second round of the WTA Rogers Cup.

It was the second all-Canadian affair of the day, with Felix-Auger Aliassime earlier on Wednesday stopping Vasek Pospisil 6-2 6-7(3) 7-6(3).

These matches generated the headlines and the crowds in Canada, but there was plenty of drama unfolding around them.

World No.1 Ash Barty fell in her opening match to Sofia Kenin, Donna Vekic saved three match points to beat Madison Keys, and last week’s Washington DC champion Nick Kyrgios fell to Kyle Edmund.

Andreescu survived an early Bouchard onslaught to win 4-6 6-1 6-4, her creativity, power and consistency proving too much for her compatriot.

It was just the second competitive outing for the 19-year-old in five months, with the Indian Wells champion having struggled with a shoulder injury.

Now pain free, Andreescu extended Bouchard’s losing streak to nine matches; the former world No.5 has not won a match since Dubai in February.

“It was honestly such a good match. I’m really glad that we were able to put on a show for you guys,” Andreescu told the packed crowd on Toronto’s stadium court.

“I tried not to focus on who I was playing and stuck to the right tactics tonight.

“It’s been a roller coaster (in the past few months) but I’ve been preparing really well the last couple of weeks and I think the preparation I did really showed tonight. I’m really happy.”

Auger-Aliassime was two points from getting broken deep in the third set, but from 0-30 down in the ninth game, he held for 5-4 and ran away with the subsequent tiebreak.

His win over Pospisil sets up another all-Canadian showdown — this time against former world No.3 Milos Raonic. Auger-Aliassime lost their last meeting, at Indian Wells in 2018.

“For sure I (now) have the confidence that I can win against these types of players. I’m not as nervous stepping on these big courts. That’s also a big change,” he told atptennis.com.

“I think the overall trust in my game is much more different than before. I think overall everything in my game has improved, from the groundstrokes, my return, my serve.”

Barty’s No.1 ranking in danger

Following her 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4 loss to Kenin, Barty’s world No.1 ranking is in serious jeopardy.

The Australian will lose the top ranking if Japan’s Naomi Osaka wins her second-round match (on Thursday AEST) against German qualifier Tatjana Maria.

The Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova also has the chance to take the top ranking this week but must reach the semifinals to have any hope.

Barty, playing for the first time since losing in the fourth round at Wimbledon a month ago, enjoyed a bye in the opening round and struggled to find her rhythm on her return to the circuit.

“I think it was a little rust but I think just in general it was just a bit loose,” Barty said.

“At times I was missing by big margins, which is not something that I’m used to or comfortable with, but it’s not panic stations. It’s my first match on hardcourt in a long time.”

World No.29 Kenin nearly squandered a 4-1 cushion in the decider but held her nerve and closed out the match when a misfiring Barty sent a routine forehand long.

“It’s very different conditions here and different coming from home, training in winter at the moment, where the ball is a little lower and here it’s quite lively and quick off the racquet,” Barty said.

“All in all, I didn’t adjust well enough or quick enough to the conditions how I needed to.”

Other results

Joining Kenin in the third round in Toronto was No.5 seed Kiki Bertens, who thumped qualifier Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-2 6-1.

First-round winners on Wednesday included Victoria Azarenka, Carla Suarez Navarro — who handed Venus Williams her fourth straight loss — and Vekic, who recovered from 6-3, 5-4, 40-0 down to beat 14th seed Keys in a final-set tiebreak.

Alison Riske also saved three match points to beat Maria Sakkari 4-6 6-2 7-6(7).

The only second-round winner in Montreal was Hamburg champion Nikoloz Basilashvili, who recovered to defeat Jan-Lennard Struff 2-6 6-2 6-3.

Progressing to the second round were 11th seed Borna Coric and 12th seed John Isner — both players winning in third-set tiebreaks — and No.14 seed Marin Cilic, who stopped qualifier Bradley Klahn 6-3 7-6(7).

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