The National Bank Open, formerly Rogers Cup

Grand Slam champs Serena, Simona highlight wall-to-wall Wednesday

August 7, 2019

It was just a few weeks ago on Centre Court at Wimbledon that Serena Williams and Simona Halep were facing one another for the coveted title there. On Wednesday, they begin their respective Rogers Cup presented by National Bank campaigns.

Thankfully not against each other.

Williams, a winner here three times, and Halep, the defending champion, could meet in the semi-finals come Saturday, but neither can look past their second-round tests. No. 4 seed Simona plays big-hitting American Jennifer Brady in the day session, while 8th-seeded Serena takes on Elise Mertens, a semi-finalist at the Australian Open as recently as just last year.

Serena, now 37, was all business when she met the media ahead of the event on Saturday, and her appearance at Sobeys Stadium is a promise made at Wimbledon after that championship match loss: She wants to play more tennis ahead of the U.S. Open.

This is her first Rogers Cup in four years.

Meanwhile, two other big-name players have the chance to steal away the No. 1 ranking from Ashleigh Barty, who was stunned on Tuesday by Sofia Kenin. They would be Karolina Pliskova, who meets Alison Riske to start the day on Centre Court, as well as No. 2 Naomi Osaka, who takes on qualifier Tatjana Maria, the German.

It’s a wall-to-wall Wednesday program at Rogers Cup, and in addition to Halep, Williams, Pliskova and Osaka, there is a sensational line-up for fans to see, including Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who plays in the final day session match of the afternoon. Last night Andreescu took out compatriot Genie Bouchard in an enthralling three-set encounter.

Other must-see names in action Wednesday include Victoria Azarenka, Elina Svitolina, Jelena Ostapenko, Belinda Bencic and Svetlana Kuznetsova, as well as Caroline Wozniacki, who plays in the evening session.

Canada’s Gaby Dabrowski will play her opening doubles match on Court 1, scheduled to go on as the fifth match. She’s seeded No. 2 alongside partner Xu Yifan.

Tuesday: Barty stunned; Andreescu stops Bouchard

There was no way around it for Barty, the French Open champ and recent world No. 1 who just couldn’t find her top tennis against Kenin in a three-set upset on Tuesday afternoon.

“My tennis didn’t have the polish it needed,” the Australian admitted after a three-set loss to the young American. She leaves the door open for Osaka or Pliskova to take her ranking crown.

While rain delayed play by 30 minutes, storms mostly avoided Sobeys Stadium as Azarenka and Kiki Bertens earned wins. Carla Suarez Navarro beat Venus Williams in straight sets.

Andreescu, the Toronto native, fought back in what was a spectacular contest against Bouchard in front of a packed house for the evening match. She won 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in two hours, nine minutes.

“I was trying not to focus on who I was playing tonight and really just stick to my tactics,” Andreescu said after the win.