MONTREAL — Top seed Jelena Jankovic of Serbia did not make it out of her first match at the Rogers Cup, losing her second-round match-up with qualifier Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (3), 6-3 on centre court Tuesday night at Uniprix Stadium.
Jankovic, the world’s third-ranked player, has never won a tournament in Canada and that drought will continue at least another year.
Benesova, ranked No. 75 in the world, won her sixth match in the last five days, winning three on the weekend in qualifying plus her first round singles and doubles matches on Monday.
It was the biggest win of Benesova’s 12-year pro career, her previous best being a victory over then-No. 5 Mary Pierce in the second round of the 2006 Australian Open.
It was almost a perfect match for me, Benesova told the centre-court crowd, which got behind her upset bid from the very start. I was in the zone and focused on my game.
Benesova will face the winner of the second-round match between Frances Marion Bartoli and Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm.
Jankovic got off to a strong start, winning her first two service games at love and breaking Benesova to go up 5-3 in the first with a chance to serve out the set. But Benesova broke right back and forced a tiebreak, winning the final three points to take it 7-3.
The two players exchanged breaks in the second set until Benesova broke Jankovic again to go ahead 5-3 and served out the match, standing on the baseline with both hands on her head as the crowd roared its approval.
The US$2-million tournament lost all of its Canadian content when Heidi El Tabakh of Oakville, Ont., and Valerie Tetreault of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., lost their first round matches.
El Tabakh fell in straight sets 6-1, 6-2 to Russian Alisa Kleybanova.
“She didn’t give me a chance to get in the match,” El Tabakh said. “If I had a break point or a game point, she kept the pressure on me. That was tough to deal with.”
El Tabakh, 23, qualified for the main draw with three victories on the weekend, but was unable to maintain the momentum against the world’s 26th-ranked player.
Still, she was encouraged in her ability to at least make it into the tournament.
“It gives you motivation to keep working hard,” she said. “It tells you that you belong at this level.”
Tetreault hardly challenged the 17th seed Marion Bartoli on centre court Tuesday afternoon, losing 6-1, 6-0 in 69 minutes.
Not a very long stay, but one Tetreault will savour as her first career Rogers Cup.
“It’s very rare that I can play with these kinds of players,” she said. “It was an opportunity to see what the top level is like and where I’m at, and to see how I can improve. She was hitting the ball heavier than me. I have to work on my serves and my returns. It’s an experience that I can use further on in my career.”
Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., and Stephanie Dubois of Laval, Que., both lost their centre-court matches Monday night, while both Canadian doubles teams were also eliminated on the first day.
The eighth-seeded Zvonareva made quick work of Kazakhstan’s Yaroslava Shvedova, winning their second-round match 6-2, 6-1 in 67 minutes.
No. 11 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova needed three sets to defeat fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in the days opening match on centre court.
From 2006 to 2009 Kuznetsova was a perennial top-5 player, reaching a career high No. 2 in 2007, but she arrived in Montreal ranked 16th in the world.
She feels she is slowly getting back to that top-5 form.
“Before, I was more aggressive, I was going for the balls, and I think I have that back,” Kuznetsova said.
“I think my game is better. I feel like I’m back, I’m back in my game and it all depends on me.”
Tenth-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus beat Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-1, 6-1, 15th seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy ousted Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova 6-0, 7-5, and 18th seed Nadia Petrova of Russia was stretched to the limit 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 by Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.
Japan’s Kimiko Date-Krumm, the 39 year-old who received entry into the main draw only after Maria Sharapova pulled out Sunday night with a heel injury, won her first-round match 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-2 over Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu.
After three qualifiers advanced to the second round on Monday, two more advanced Tuesday with victories by Ekaterina Makarova of Russia and American Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Russias Maria Kirilenko had a quick 6-0, 6-3 victory over Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, who made the final here in 2008.