Wednesday, August 10, 2022 – Serena Williams plays against Belinda Bencic during round two of the 2022 National Bank Open presented by Rogers at Sobey’s Centre in Toronto, Ontario. (Peter Power/Tennis Canada).
All good things must come to an end.
After 22 years, one of the greatest players in the history of not just tennis, but all of sport, made her final appearance in front of a Canadian crowd. The emotional evening match capped off a monster line-up at the National Bank Open which was full of upsets.
It was a great day to be at Sobeys Stadium.
Serena Williams once said that people will never know when she has played her final match.
That was until Tuesday when she announced a transition away from tennis, making this year’s National Bank Open her final appearance in Canada.
Barring an unexpected change of heart, Wednesday night’s match in Toronto was the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion’s final appearance in Canada, as she fell in straight sets to Belinda Bencic.
The American legend fought hard, but ultimately could not keep up with the Swiss’ smooth ball striking.
Fans lucky enough to have tickets to the sold-out night session got their moneys worth. Not only did they get to participate in Williams’ historic send-off, but they were treated to a classic Bianca Andreescu thriller in the final match of the day.
The 2019 National Bank Open champion won her eighth consecutive match in Toronto by holding off Alize Cornet in three sets. Andreescu led by a set and a break, but the Frenchwoman rallied to level the match at a set all.
In each set, Andreescu broke serve early. She was broken back in sets one and two, but in the third she hung on, even though she had to save break points, to reach the third round with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
Three years after making her WTA 1000 debut and scoring her first Top 20 win, Iga Świątek returned to Toronto as the world No. 1 and got off to a winning start, defeating qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets.
Świątek raced out of the gate to a 5-0 lead in the first set before grinding through a back-and-forth second that start with five straight breaks of serve, eventually reaching the third round in Canada for the second time in her career with a 6-1, 6-2 win.
She has not lost on a hard court since February in Dubai.
The highest profile showdown of the day was out on the National Bank Grandstand, where 10th seed Coco Gauff edged Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in a three-set thriller.
Gauff led by a set a 6-3 in the second set tiebreak, but Rybakina saved all three match points, plus another at 7-8, before taking the tiebreak 10-8 to force a deciding set.
In the third, both women led by a break, with Gauff even serving for the match at 5-3, but another tiebreaker was needed. Once against the young American went up 6-3 and this time she converted her first match point to wrap up the victory.
The day session ended in disappointment for the home fans, as Canadian No. 1 Leylah Annie Fernandez was beaten by the powerful Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, who will now meet the world No. 1 Świątek in the third round.
It was bad day for the top seeds apart from Świątek, as three of the Top 5 seeds bowed out, two via retirement. Both No. 4 seed Paula Badosa and No. 5 seed Ons Jabeur both called it quits in the second sets of their respective matches. World No. 2 Anett Kontaveit was upset by Jil Teichmann 6-4, 6-4.
Defending champion Camila Giorgi stretched her winning run in Canada to eight in a row with a straight-sets win over Elise Mertens. The woman she beat in last year’s final, Karolina Pliskova, cruised into the last sixteen with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Amanda Anisimova in just 53 minutes.
Two-time champion Simona Halep continued her bid for a third Canadian title, and first in Toronto, with a straigh-sets wins over Shuai Zhang. Her fellow major winner Jelena Ostapenko became the first seed to lose on Wednesday, falling in three sets to Alison Riske-Amritraj.
Seventh seed Jessica Pegula won an All-American clash with Asia Muhammad in straight sets, while sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka also advanced in two against Sara Sorribes Tormo.
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Jelena Ostapenko may have been defeated on Wednesday in a tennis match, but she certainly left a mark in the fashion game.