Kicking off her ninth career appearance at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, Carla Suarez Navarro was firing on all cylinders. Despite coming in with a 3-7 record against Venus Williams, the Spaniard defeated the former World No. 1 in straight sets 6-4, 6-2 on Centre Court.
In the opening set, the World No. 26 seemed to be in command of the match. She failed to convert a couple break points, before finally scoring one to jump in front 4-3. Suarez Navarro then climbed out of a 0-30 hole and held serve in the very next game – thanks to a beautiful forehand winner.
Venus did all she could to try and consolidate the break, but the Spaniard would not be denied. After the seven-time Grand Slam champion staved off four set points, Suarez Navarro crushed a cross-court forehand winner to take the first set.
It was more of the same in the second set. Both players traded five breaks of serve, before Suarez Navarro finally managed to be the first to hold serve in the second set at 4-2. From there, the 30 year old won the final two games, winning eight of the last 11 points in the match to secure just her fourth career victory against Venus. She’ll next face World No. 19 Anett Kontaveit in the second round.
Suarez Navarro seems to relish playing the North American swing. Prior to this event, the World No. 26 began the summer hard-court season with a loss in the quarters to the eventual runner-up, Aryna Sabalenka, in San Jose. Additionally, in the summer of 2018, Suarez Navarro had a strong showing on hard courts – having compiled an 11-4 record.
Meanwhile, for Venus, her first-round exit in Toronto marks the first time in four years she’s failed to reach the round of 16 at Rogers Cup. She is now winless in her only two matches during this summer’s hardcourt season, having lost in the opening round to Bethanie Mattek-Sands in San Jose.
Also during Tuesday’s day session, former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka signaled her return to Toronto with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Camila Giorgi. Azarenka had not played in Canada’s most populous city since 2015. Like Suarez Navarro, Vika is playing in her ninth career Rogers Cup, where she’s been a semi-finalist three times. The Belarusian will next face Dayana Yastremska in the second round.