U.S. Open champ Stephens ousts Canada's Abanda at women's Rogers Cup

The Canadian Press
U.S. Open champ Stephens ousts Canada's Abanda at women's Rogers Cup

U.S. Open champ Stephens ousts Canada's Abanda at women's Rogers Cup

U.S. Open champ Stephens ousts Canada's Abanda at women's Rogers Cup

MONTREAL — Francoise Abanda considers U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens a role model and may have shown a little too much respect when they met on centre court at the women's Rogers Cup.

The third-seeded Stephens had little trouble dispatching the last Canadian left in the singles draw with a 6-0, 6-2 victory on Wednesday.

Abanda said she played too defensively against Sloane, who jumped on that to move the 21-year-old around the court and set up winners.

"I didn't think I had the right strategy, but Sloane is a player who can attack really well and defend really well," said Abanda. "I would next time try to impose my game more, try to be more aggressive.

"She definitely was making me run, putting on a lot of pressure."

After first-round losses by Eugenie Bouchard of Montreal and Carol Zhao of Richmond Hill, Ont., Abanda was the last Canadian standing. But it wasn't a bad week for the world's 191st-ranked player.

She got a wild card entry when Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., withdrew with an injury, and then beat 44th-ranked Kirsten Flipkens in the first round.

"I think it was, overall, two good matches for me," said Abanda. "I played two top 50 players.

"This year it's my first time playing top 50 players. I got one win, lost another one. I think it will just boost me. I have Cincinnati left (next week, if she gets into the qualifying tournament), the U.S. Open and Quebec City. I really believe it will help me for the upcoming tournaments."

Sloane, 25, dominated from her opening-game service break, running Abanda from side to side and slamming in winners. Cheers arouse from the crowd at IGA Stadium when Abanda held her serve early in the second set, but Stephens closed out the match in one hour 20 minutes.  

Stephens was mostly bothered by flies that came out after a short sprinkle of rain.

"What was kind of weird about it, there are, like, piles of bugs on the court after," said Stephens. "That was really disgusting. But they're, like, gnats. Did you see?

"It rained, then they came out of nowhere. It was like a blizzard of bugs. That was probably the most disgusting thing I've ever encountered. That was harder than, like, the actual drops of rain. I felt that everything that was, like, dropping on me was a bug. Yeah, not fun."

Maria Sharapova continued her bid to climb back to the top of women's tennis with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over 12th-seeded Daria Kasatkina. The former world No. 1 who was ranked 149th a year ago after serving a 15-month doping ban, posted a second one-sided win in a row after a 6-1, 6-2 defeat of qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva in the opening round.

"I've had all types of matches in my career," said Sharapova, who has climbed back to 22nd in the world. "I'll take what I can get. As long as I'm the one getting a chance to play the next match. I think that's what I really care about.

"But to be able to carry that focus, there are certainly a few up and downs in matches, momentum switches. That is from one perspective what makes the sport exciting, but also as a player, makes it very challenging."

The Russian will face fifth-seeded Caroline Garcia of France in the third round. Sharapova is 4-1 in previous meetings, but Garcia won their last one this year in Stuttgart.

Defending champion Elina Svitolina of Ukraine saw tenacious Romanian opponent Mihaela Buzarnescu retire in the third set with a badly sprained ankle for a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 4-3 win. Buzarnescu was in great pain as she was attended to on the court before being taken off in a wheelchair.

Unseeded Kiki Bertens is ranked 18th in the world so it wasn't much of an upset when she beat ninth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-2 to advance to a third round encounter with eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova.

Alize Cornet of France defeated off-form Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-1 to advance to a third round meeting with 15th-seeded Ashleigh Barty of Australia, who downed Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 7-6 (7) 6-2.

Kerber leads her all-time series with Cornet 3-2, but the Frenchwoman has won both of their meetings on hard courts. Cornet's last win over a player ranked in the top five in the world was also a hard court win over Kerber in Beijing in 2017.

Kerber led the WTA Tour in hard court wins this year with 21, but she wilted in the sticky heat in her first match since her Wimbledon triumph.

"It is one match, I know I have to learn from it," said fourth-seeded Kerber. "I took a few weeks off after Wimbledon so I knew I had to come here, play a lot of matches, and also to get used to the hard courts again.

"Of course, it was not the plan to play just one match but, at the end, this is tennis. Every tournament starts from zero. Now I'll try to get ready for the next tournament."

The top eight seeds got a bye to the second round.

Qualifier Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, a former top-10 player, got past Lesia Tsurenko 6-4, 3-2 when her Ukrainian opponent retired in the second set. Navarro will face Stephens in the third round.

Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia fought off a couple of match points to down Monica Puig 4-6, 7-6 (9), 6-1. Sevastova next faces 10th-seeded Julia Goerges.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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