“It’s easy: I hate losing.”
Venus Williams perhaps speaks for most tennis players at Rogers Cup presented by National Bank in what keeps her going the most at age 39, some 24 years (!) since she made her Toronto debut in 1995.
Tuesday at Aviva Centre, that vintage Venus never-say-quit attitude will be on display again as Williams takes on Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, their 11th career meeting. Venus leads the head-to-head 7-3.
Their meeting is one of a fistful of mouthwatering encounters as round one wraps up and round two gets underway, including the much-talked-about all-Canadian clash between Genie Bouchard and Bianca Andreescu.
World No.1 Ashleigh Barty kicks off her Canadian campaign after a first-round bye, taking on American Sofia Kenin, while a former No.1 in Victoria Azarenka meets hard-hitting Camila Giorgi to start.
Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Kiki Bertens, Aryna Sabalenka and the newfound doubles duo of Leylah Annie Fernandez and Simona Halep, who have paired up for the first time and have a tough challenge awaiting in the No.7 seeds, Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke.
All eyes will no doubt be fixed on Centre Court come 7 o’clock in the evening when Bouchard and Andreescu go toe-to-toe. They’ve met just once before, Andreescu losing just two games in Newport Beach earlier this year. But none of that will matter when “Ready? Play” is called Tuesday night, as the former Wimbledon finalist Bouchard loves a big-stage battle.
Andreescu is playing just her second match in four months after a shoulder injury hampered her progress following her massive triumph at Indian Wells in March. Bouchard, meanwhile, is searching for her first tour win since February.
Barty, meanwhile, got a warm-up on Monday as she teamed with Azarenka to win their opening doubles match. The French Open champ and new world No.1 went for a champion’s homecoming after Wimbledon, having not returned to Australia since her triumph at the French Open.
Sharapova knocked out on must-see Monday
Big names were in action in Toronto on Monday, as well, as Maria Sharapova lost in a seesaw battle against No.16 seed Anett Kontaveit. Kontaveit won a two hour, 41 minute classic, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in front of an enthralled crowd.
Other winners on day one of main draw play included 2015 champ Belina Bencic, 2010 champ Caroline Wozniacki, two-time Slam champ Svetlana Kuznetsova, 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko and former top 10 resident Julia Goerges.
No.13 seed Johanna Konta lost to Dayana Yastremska, while qualifier Marie Bouzkova humbled Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez 6-0, 6-1.
While Azarenka/Barty won in doubles, the all-Canadian duos of Bouchard and Sharon Fichman as well as Francoise Abanda and Carson Branstine were both eliminated in tight contests.