Samsonova soars in double header; Pegula, Swiatek survive quarter-final tests
With two third-round matches still to play and a full slate of quarter-finals on the docket, tennis fans knew they’d be in for something exciting on Friday at the National Bank Open – but it’s hard to think any of them could have prepared for the quality they were about to witness in Montreal.
Fans attending the day session at Stade IGA were treated to not one, not two, but four epic three-set matches, that showed off some of the best that women’s tennis has to offer.
Kicking off the day simultaneously were intriguing rain-delayed clashes between No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka and No. 15 seed Ludmila Samsonova on Centre Court, and on Rogers Court No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova vs. No. 12 seed Belinda Bencic.
Samsonova and Bencic were the lucky winners of those matches, earning the right to play each other later in the evening after some much-needed recovery. They advanced 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-3 and 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-1 over their respective opponents.
Up second on the main show court was a duel between good friends and doubles partners, America’s Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff.
Gauff, seeded 6th this week in Montreal, got off to a slow start against her compatriot, dropping the first set 6-2 and looking a little out of energy after riding a six-match win streak that saw her win the title in Washington just last week. The popular teen phenom – still just 19 years old – was able to regroup in the second, stealing it from Pegula as she raised her level at the end of the set.
29-year-old Pegula, however, would prove too strong at the end. Using her deep knowledge of her doubles partner’s game against her, the Buffalo native would pummel the Gauff forehand with great depth, watching it unravel in the final clips of the set to secure victory after two-hours and 21 minutes.
Iga Swiatek would ultimately close out the day session with a tricky 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 win over qualifier Danielle Collins, who had been on a tear this week in Montreal, defeating the likes of Genie Bouchard in qualifying and Elina Svitolina, Maria Sakkari, and Leylah Fernandez to reach the quarters.
Although Swiatek struggled to keep her nerves at bay as she neared the finish line in the second set, she regrouped masterfully in the decider to overwhelm Collins with lightning quick defense and punishing top spin, reaching her first-ever semi-final on Canadian soil.
In the night session, Samsonova and Bencic returned to the court to finish what they started earlier in the day. In their quest for a spot in the semi-final, it was the Russian-born, Italian-raised 15th seed who was able to keep points short thanks to her wicked serve, providing her just enough free points needed to secure her second win of the day.