TORONTO – Aleksandra Wozniak’s quest to win a WTA Tour title in her home country will have to wait another year.
The Blainville, Que., native dropped a 6-4, 6-4 decision to Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova in first-round action Tuesday at the US$2-million Rogers Cup. Wozniak’s loss means that none of the four Canadians in the main draw advanced to the second round.
Wozniak, ranked 40th in the world, came in with the highest hopes of them all. But the 21-year-old was broken three times in the first set, winning just 52 per cent of her first-serve points along the way.
Another service break put Kleybanova ahead 3-2 in the second set. After Wozniak broke to tie the game 3-3, the 36th-ranked Kleybanova returned the favour to go back up a break, sealing Wozniak’s fate.
“She plays a really aggressive ball, and it was hard for me to change the direction like I wanted,” said Wozniak. “I think she just stepped up on the easy, short balls that I was giving her. She was taking advantage.”
No Canadian woman has won the Rogers Cup since Faye Urban beat countrywoman Vicki Berner in the 1969 final.
“It’s disappointing, for sure,” said Wozniak. “This tournament is the one I want to win so bad. Hopefully one day’s it’s gonna be mine.”
Wozniak and Toronto’s Sharon Fichman later fell 1-6, 7-6 (5), 10-4 to Polish duo Klaudia Jans and Alicja Rosolska in first-round women’s doubles action.
Wozniak insists she won’t let her subpar performance in Toronto spoil what has been a strong season to date.
“I have to look ahead,” said Wozniak. “I was (21st) in the world a couple of weeks ago, and there’s so many big tournaments out there I can do really well in. I just have to have a good attitude and keep going forward.”
Earlier Tuesday, unheralded Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko recorded the upset of the tournament thus far, knocking off third-seeded American Venus Williams 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 in a second-round stunner. Bondarenko, ranked 64th in the world, will now face either Agnes Szavay of Hungary or Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the third round.
“I was playing really good,” said Bondarenko. “The first set, I didn’t know what to do with her power. The rest of the game, I just tried to keep the ball in play.”
Williams arrived in Toronto as one of the favourites, despite not having played here since she was a 17-year-old in 1997. She leaves having never won a match at the Rogers Cup, dropping to 0-3 all-time.
“I was definitely expecting to play well, and to go very far in the tournament,” said Williams, ranked third in the world. “I’ve got a lot of fans here, so it’s disappointing.”
Williams controlled the first set but couldn’t shake a determined Bondarenko, who chased down shot after shot in stifling temperatures at the Rexall Centre. Bondarenko broke Williams three times in the second set and once more in the third, while winning 20-of-28 service points of her own in the deciding set.
Bondarenko initially said it was “just another match,” but quickly changed her tune.
“It’s big because it was against Venus,” said Bondarenko. “I feel that I can win (against) anybody if I can win (against) Venus.”
In evening action, Belgium’s Kim Clijsters cruised past Elena Baltacha of Britain 6-3, 6-4. The 2005 Rogers Cup champion and former world No. 1 looked solid from beginning to end as she plays just her second tournament following more than two years away from the sport.
In the late match, Samantha Stosur of Australia upset sixth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-4, 6-3.
Four seeded players advanced to the second round Tuesday. Ninth-seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus routed Peng Shuai of China 6-3, 6-3; No. 11 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia rallied to beat Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova 2-6, 6-3, 6-2; No. 12 Flavia Pennetta of Italy got past Russia’s Maria Kirilenko 6-3, 6-3; and No. 16 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia beat Sara Errani of Italy 6-4, 6-2.
Shahar Peer of Israel won the longest match of the tournament, needing just under three hours to get past Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4).
In other action Tuesday, Virginie Razzano of France defeated Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-7 (3), 6-0, 6-2; Jie Zheng of China downed Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-3, 6-2; Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia beat Julie Coin of France 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (8); Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan earned a 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4) win over Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia; and Safarov got past Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi 6-4, 7-6 (3).