Andreescu downs Bertens to advance to quarterfinals at Rogers Cup

TORONTO — Canadian Bianca Andreescu advanced to the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup on Thursday, edging world No. 5 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-7, 6-4 in a dramatic, rain-interrupted match on centre court.

Andreescu capitalized on her fourth match point when Bertens hit her second straight double fault to end the afternoon tilt, which was delayed one hour 11 minutes by rain.

Andreescu will face former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals Friday.

The Mississauga, Ont., teen is the fifth Canadian woman to make it to the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup since it became a hardcourt event in 1979, and the first to do it since Aleksandra Wozniak in 2012. Carling Bassett (1985), Helen Kelesi (1987) and Patricia Hy (1992) were the others.

Andreescu, who’s had all her matches stretched to three sets this tournament, was on fire early on. She earned a big break to go up 5-1 in the first set, screaming into the crowd after her winning point.

The Canadian started slowly in the second set, falling behind 0-3. But she saved four break points to tie it 3-all, then dug out of a second straight 0-40 hole to hold at 4-all. It was Bertens’s time for a comeback in the tiebreak though, rallying from a 5-2 deficit to take it 9-7.

The 19-year-old Andreescu had an 80 per cent first-serve percentage while winning the opening set of a match for the first time all tournament. Her first-serve percentage fell to 52 in the second set.

Steady rain rolled into the area and suspended play with Andreescu up 40-15 in first game of the opening set. A light drizzle started up shortly after the court dried up, but the second delay was minimal and play resumed after a few minutes.

Andreescu had never played Bertens before Thursday. The Canadian entered the match with a 4-0 record against top-10 ranked opponents this year — including her Indian Wells final win over then-No. 8 Angelique Kerber in March for her first WTA title.

Andreescu, returning from a shoulder injury that limited her to three matches since May, had played nearly five hours of tennis over the first two days of the tournament. She needed three sets to defeat Daria Kasatkina on Wednesday night, and three against fellow Canadian Eugenie Bouchard in the first round Tuesday.

She looked to be out of the tournament on Wednesday — facing a 5-3 deficit in the third set of her late afternoon match against Kasatkina — but rallied by winning four straight games to advance to the third round.

Pliskova downed No. 16-seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-3, 7-5 in Thursday’s first match on centre court.

Pliskova, who needed three sets against American qualifier Alison Riske on Wednesday, said she felt an improvement in her game against Kontaveit.

“For sure better than it was maybe yesterday,” Pliskova said. “So I guess it’s going to get better every day with what I play. And I always was, I am, improving with matches.”

Pliskova can reclaim the top spot on the WTA rankings with a solid run at the Premier 5 event this week.

She also reached the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup the last time it was in Toronto in 2017, during her seven-week run as the top-ranked player in the world. Pliskova lost to Bertens in the second round of last year’s tournament in Montreal.

In other early play Thursday, American Sofia Kenin continued her stellar run at the tournament with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska.

Kenin, ranked No. 29, had knocked off the top-ranked Ashleigh Barty on Tuesday to reach the third round. She will play 2017 Rogers Cup champ Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals.

Svitolina, from Ukraine, edged 2015 tournament winner Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-2, 6-4 in another rain-interrrupted match on the grand stand.

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep of Romania played Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia later Thursday. Halep, who won the 2018 Rogers Cup title in Montreal, needed three sets and a tiebreak to oust 76th-ranked American Jennifer Brady in the second round.

No. 2 Naomi Osaka of Japan was slated for the late match against qualifier Iga Swiatek. Swiatek upset former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in three sets Wednesday night.

Also Thursday, American star Serena Williams took on Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova and Latvian Jelena Ostapenko played qualifier Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic.

Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press

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