The game’s biggest names who took the Toronto courts for the first time on Wednesday were all victorious, as Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Naomi Osaka, and Elina Svitolina won their openers after first-round byes at the 2019 Rogers Cup.
Playing her first match since runner-up finish at Wimbledon, the highest-paid female athlete Serena Williams defeated Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3 6-3. Pleased with her on-court movement, the eighth-seeded American is now injury-free and happy to be able to train and work on her fitness, something she says she hadn’t been able to do since January. The 37-year-old Williams has won the Rogers Cup three times, all in Toronto.
Defending champion Simona Halep had a tough time adjusting to the hardcourt challenge because of a long break after her Wimbledon triumph, but the fourth-seeded Romanian managed to overcome American qualifier Jennifer Brady 4-6 7-5 7-6(5). In the deciding set, Brady won five games in a row to go from 0-4 to 5-4 and even though Halep broke her serve for the third time to lead 6-5, the match was eventually decided in a tiebreaker. The 26-year-old Halep will face Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round, as the Russian defeated Donna Vekic of Croatia 7-6(4) 6-3.
Third seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic played another difficult match against American qualifier Alison Riske before prevailing 6-4 6-7(4) 6-2.
In her first match since losing her Wimbledon opener, seed number two Naomi Osaka eased through the first set before German qualifier Tatjana Maria retired due to a left abdominal injury. Up next for Osaka is tricky Polish qualifier Iga Swiatek, who beat 15th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki 1-6 6-3 6-4 in the late match. Osaka said that she will analyze teenager Swiatek’s game ahead of their first career meeting and the Japanese expects a tough ride: “She’s young, and young people usually have no fear. I know that from experience.”
Ukraine’s sixth seed Elina Svitolina, who won the Rogers Cup in Toronto two years ago, defeated Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-3 3-6 6-3 and will next play 2015 champion Belinda Bencic, the 11th seed who edged Julia Goerges 5-7 6-3 6-4.
Bianca Andreescu keeps progressing on home soil. After beating compatriot Eugenie Bouchard, the Canadian won a three-set thriller against Daria Kasatkina, 5-7 6-2 7-5.
Our Jimmie48 attended all these matches! Enjoy the photo gallery below.
MORE ROGERS CUP 2019 PHOTOS: