Canadian qualifies for Rogers Cup

After qualifying for a second year in a row at her home tournament on Sunday, Heidi El Tabakh gave a subdued fist pump and politely applauded to the supportive crowd.

MONTREAL — After qualifying for a second year in a row at her home tournament on Sunday, Heidi El Tabakh gave a subdued fist pump and politely applauded to the supportive crowd.

She hopes to save her big celebrations for this week, when the main draw at the US$2 million Rogers Cup gets underway.

“I’m pretty happy, but I’m not done,” the 23-year-old native of Oakville, Ont., said. “I’m still in the tournament.”

El Tabakh will be the fourth Canadian in the main draw at the Rogers Cup after earning a spot as a qualifier with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 comeback victory Sunday over Croatia’s Karolina Sprem.

She did the same thing in Toronto last year, and El Tabakh feels it shows her affinity for being in familiar surroundings.

“It means I like playing at home,” the Egyptian-born El Tabakh said with a smile. “It feels great to play in front of that crowd. It gives you that extra boost.”

She needed it Sunday after losing the first set 3-6, and the crowd on centre court at Uniprix Stadium provided the motivation she was looking for.

“I just had to stop thinking,” El Tabakh said of her recovery. “I told myself I don’t need to think about the score too much, I just need to focus on making my shots.”

It also didn’t hurt that Sprem completely lost control of her serve.

Sprem hit on 56 per cent of her first serves in the opening set with four double faults, but over the final two sets her accuracy dropped to 33 per cent and she committed 12 double faults, including seven in the decisive final set.

El Tabakh feasted on Sprem’s second serve over the final two sets, winning the point 25 out of 37 times.

But even though Sprem appeared to be unravelling, El Tabakh had to remain sharp against a player that was once ranked No. 17 in the world.

“It’s tricky,” said El Tabakh. “You know at any moment she might come back.”

This is the first WTA event El Tabakh has qualified for since her dream run at this year’s French Open, where she won three matches just to reach the main draw but then lost to Arazane Rezai in the first round.

El Tabakh, at No. 211, will be the lowest-ranked player in the tournament but she says she will approach the week much as she did the qualifying tournament.

“I came here with no expectations,” she said. “I don’t even take it one match at a time, I take it one point at a time. I just try to enjoy it.”

Quebecers Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Stephanie Dubois of Laval and Valerie Tetreault of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu all received wild cards into the main draw which gets underway Monday.

Wozniak and Dubois will play their first matches on centre court this evening, while Tetreault and El Tabakh will get underway on Tuesday. The tournament’s top eight seeds receive a bye into the second round.

Vancouver native Rebecca Marino came up one match short in her bid to make it five Canadians in the tournament, losing 6-4, 6-4 to Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova. Though the score was close, Marino struggled against the 69th-ranked Makarova the entire match, consistently fighting to hold serve while rarely getting a point in return games.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
The Red Deer Rebels will have three new assistant coaches when the WHL regular season starts on Friday. Brad Flynn (left), will be on the bench alongside fellow assistant Ryan Colville (right) head coach Brent Sutter (middle). (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Sutter steps down as Red Deer Rebels head coach

Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter has stepped… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau watches a speaker appear by videoconference during a news conference in Ottawa, Friday, April 9, 2021. Grassroots Liberals have overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution calling on the federal government to develop and implement a universal basic income — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the idea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau winds up Liberal convention with election campaign-style speech

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau wound up a three-day Liberal convention Saturday with… Continue reading

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher makes a shot against Italy at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 6, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Men’s world curling championship in Calgary in COVID limbo

CALGARY — The men’s world curling championship in Calgary remained suspended Saturday… Continue reading

Pipes intended for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline are shown in Gascoyne, N.D. on Wednesday April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Non-profit Quebec law centre to aid environmental group targeted by Alberta oil firm

QUEBEC — The Quebec Environmental Law Centre is coming to the aid… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives cite empathy, relationships as ways to help expand their movement

OTTAWA — Conservatives should show empathy with Black residents who say they’ve… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. New Democrats are reconvening for the second day of a three-day policy convention as they look to push past the glitches of the virtual event's opening sessions and rally around keynote speaker John Horgan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
New Democrats reconvene as hiccups, frustrations plague national policy convention

OTTAWA — New Democrats reconvened Saturday for the second day of a… Continue reading

FILE - In this Monday, Oct. 23, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a joint statement with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his commitment to the Republican Party — and raise the possibility that someone else will be the GOP's next presidential nominee — in a closed-door speech to donors Saturday night, April 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Trump in 2024? He says only that ‘a Republican’ will win

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Former President Donald Trump plans to affirm his… Continue reading

A cruise ship sits docked waiting for passengers to be evacuated in Kingstown, on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Friday, April 9, 2021 due to the eruption of La Soufriere volcano. (AP Photo/Orvil Samuel)
Ash-covered St. Vincent braces for more volcanic eruptions

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — People who ignored an initial warning to evacuate… Continue reading

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Most Read