Andreescu advances to 3rd round at Rogers Cup with marathon three-setter

TORONTO — Bianca Andreescu’s fatigue quickly turned into frustration on Wednesday when she felt her second-round Rogers Cup match slipping away from her in the third set.

That’s when the Canadian teen started channelling those emotions. And she pulled through.

Andreescu withstood a marathon afternoon match to advance to the third round of the Rogers Cup, edging Russia’s Daria Kasatkina 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours 40 minutes on the Aviva Centre’s centre court.

“I think I lost four games in a row (in the third set) and I was really, really pissed,” said Andreescu, the last Canadian woman still standing in the singles draw of the Toronto tournament. “And I think I just took all that anger into my shots.

“That’s why I think my shots were more effective.”

The 19-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., competing in just her third match since March because of a shoulder injury, was running out of gas in the third set. But she shook off the fatigue to break Kasatkina twice — first to tie it 5-all, then again for the 7-5 victory after hitting a trio of big forehand winners in the final game.

Andreescu had gone up 3-1 early in the set, then lost back-to-back service games as the No. 40-ranked Kasatkina built a 5-3 lead.

“In those moments, I just let loose, really,” Andreescu said of playing from behind. “I know when I do that I play my best tennis. It’s when I just stay relaxed and I go for my shots.

“And that’s what I did towards the end and I think that’s what helped me win today.”

The match was Andreescu’s second straight three-setter of the tournament. She had advanced to the second round by beating Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., in a lengthy all-Canadian centre-court clash Tuesday night.

Andreescu, who improved to 23-4 on the season with the win, entered the Rogers Cup ranked No. 27. She will play No. 5 seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands in the third round.

“She’s a very good player. I don’t expect anything easy,” Andreescu said of Bertens, who she’s never played before. “I’m just going to go out there, try to enjoy myself, and give it all.”

Andreescu began the year at No. 107 and skyrocketed up the standings thanks to a fantastic start to the season — which included her first WTA title at Indian Wells in March. She reached a career-high No. 22 in May.

“I’m really glad with how everything’s turning out. It’s nice to get back in the rhythm of things,” Andreescu said. “I really can’t complain. I’ve been off for seven weeks and being able to win these tough matches after that period off means so much.

“So that’s one of the things I’m most proud of right now.”

No. 8-seed Serena Williams followed Andreescu on centre court with a decisive 6-3, 6-3 win over Elise Mertens. It was the American superstar’s first Rogers Cup match since 2015.

Williams, who said she felt “sluggish” during the match, was down a break early in each set but battled back for the victory.

“I know when I got down one break I got real negative, and I don’t know what happened on the first time I got down,” Williams said. “I think she just played really well. She’s obviously a really good player.

“I just needed to just double down and get more focused.”

Williams will face Ekaterina Alexandrova in the third round Thursday night.

Earlier Wednesday, Wimbledon champion Simona Halep of Romania defeated American qualifier Jennifer Brady 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5) in a back-and-forth second-round match.

Halep, who won the 2018 Rogers Cup title in Montreal, was up 4-0 in the third set before Brady won the next five games. The No. 4 Halep broke the 76th-ranked Brady for a third time in the set to go up 6-5, but the former world No. 1 was broken right back to set up the tiebreak.

“It was a very, very tough one,” said Halep, who’ll face Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round. “I didn’t feel 100 per cent ready for the tournament because I had a long break (after Wimbledon).

“But I’m really pleased with the way it was today, the fact that I fought till the end.”

Kuznetsova beat Donna Vekic to advance.

No. 3 Karolina Pliskova also advanced with a win over American qualifier Alison Riske. The Czech native could reclaim the No. 1 spot this week with a good run at the US$2.83 million WTA Tour Premier 5 event.

No. 2 Naomi Osaka advanced when Tatjana Marie retired with a back injury before the second set, temporarily allowing the 21-year-old from Japan to overtake the No. 1 ranking from Ashleigh Barty of Australia. Barty, a semifinalist at the tournament last year in Montreal, dropped her opener on Tuesday.

The top eight seeds got first-round byes.

In other action Wednesday, No. 16 seed Anett Kontaveit advanced to the third round after Carla Suarez Navarro retired with a hip injury, and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka was eliminated by Ukrainian teen Dayana Yastremska.

Kontaveit will face Pliskova on Thursday while Yastremska takes on American Sofia Kenin.

Elina Svitolina, the 2017 Rogers Cup winner, moved on with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Katerina Siniakova, and 2015 champion Belinda Bencic edged Julia Goerges 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. Bencic and Svitolina will face each other in the third round.

Jelena Ostapenko also advanced to a third-round matchup against Marie Bouzkova by beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Caroline Wozniacki had the late start against qualifier Iga Swiatek. The winner will face Osaka on Thursday.

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