Defending champion Camila Giorgi successfully began her title defence on Tuesday afternoon at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers, knocking out No. 9 seed and reigning U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu, 7-6(0), 6-2, to record the 16th Top 10 victory of her career.
The unseeded Italian, who has always been dangerous opposition for some of the world’s best players, has now set up a second-round meeting with Belgium’s Elise Mertens, whom she defeated on her way to the title in Montreal last year.
Coming into Toronto, Giorgi was on a three-match losing streak and was looking to recapture the form that allowed her to win the biggest title of her career last summer. The World No. 29 found herself down a break three times in the opening set but was able to break back each time.
She played a flawless tiebreak to draw first blood against the World No. 10. Raducanu, to her credit, jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second. But Giorgi responded by reeling off six games in a row—and, at one point, 16 consecutive points. The Italian hit 31 winners and 31 unforced errors in the one-hour, 49-minute contest, while the Brit only hit three winners—all of them coming in the first set—and seven unforced errors.
Fresh off a run to the final of the Citi Open in Washington last week, Kaia Kanepi, another one of the heaviest hitters on tour, advanced after four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka was forced to retire due to a back injury. The unseeded Estonian, who was leading 7-6(4), 3-0 before the Japanese superstar was forced to throw in the towel, will now face No. 8 seed Garbiñe Muguruza, whom she defeated earlier this year at the French Open.
Earlier in the day, in her debut at the National Bank Open, China’s Zheng Qinwen spoiled a homecoming for Canadian wildcard Rebecca Marino, defeating the Vancouverite 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4. Zheng, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 46 in the world in June and has recorded victories over Grand Slam champions Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens this year, will face No. 5 seed and recent Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur in the second round.
Marino, who was coming off a run to the quarterfinals of the Citi Open, started strongly, earning a decisive break in the eighth game before serving the set out with ease.
Zheng, however, continued to put pressure on Marino, trading holds of serve with the Canadian and holding her nerve in a topsy-turvy tiebreak to force a decider. The Chinese No. 2 secured a crucial break at 3-all in the final set, converting her sixth break point and later serving out the match, much to the delight of the Chinese fans in attendance at Sobeys Stadium.