THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL — It was a tough opening day for Canadians at the Rogers Cup.
Local favourites Aleksandra Wozniak and Stephanie Dubois lost their first-round matches Monday night in front of a disappointed centre-court crowd at Uniprix Stadium, while both Canadian doubles teams were also eliminated on the first day of the US$2-million tennis tournament.
Wozniak, from Blainville, Que., fell in straight sets 6-3, 6-2 to Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland and Dubois, from Laval, Que., lost in three sets to Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
"It was such a wonderful atmosphere out there, it’s sad to lose here in Montreal in front of all your fans who have been supporting me since I was little," said Wozniak, 22. "You always want to bring as many wins for them as you can."
In doubles play, Marie-Eve Pelletier of Repentigny, Que., and Toronto’s Sharon Fichman fell 6-3, 7-5 to the team of Daniela Hantuchova and Caroline Wozniacki.
"It’s a heart-breaking loss," Pelletier said. "They gave us a lot of opportunities, and we didn’t take advantage of them."
Heidi El Tabakh of Oakville, Ont., and Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino also dropped their first round match 6-2, 6-1 to the sixth-seeded team of Yung-Jan Chan and Jie Zheng.
El Tabakh qualified for the main singles draw and will play her first round match Tuesday against Russian Alisa Kleybanova, while Valerie Tetreault of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., will also get her tournament underway against 17th seed Marion Bartoli of France.
Dubois, ranked 136th in the world, has always played well in her hometown, reaching the third round the last two times the women’s Rogers Cup was held in Montreal.
"It’s always nice to be here in Montreal with the crowd behind you," Dubois said. "I felt it even after I lost the second set and all the way through the third. They were there to the end."
Dubois squandered an excellent opportunity to down the 38th-ranked Zakopalova, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon this year and the final of her last tournament in Copenhagen two weeks ago.
Dubois won the first set was ahead 4-1 in the second, with two break point opportunities available to take a commanding 5-1 lead and serve for the match. But Dubois lost that game and five of the next six to drop the set 7-5.
Ahead 2-1 in the third, Dubois again squandered two break points to allow Zakopalova to tie it and then dropped her next four service games to lose the match.
"I’m most disappointed that I couldn’t get those important games," Dubois said. "I could have been up 5-1 in the second and 3-1 in the third, so losing those games was very disappointing."
Wozniak, ranked 53rd in the world, was facing the 49th ranked Bacsinszky for the first time in her career.
There was some question as to whether Wozniak would be able to play in Montreal as she has battled tendinitis in her right forearm, and she was wearing tape on the damaged forearm during Monday evening’s match.
It was only Wozniak’s second tournament since losing to Jelena Jankovic in the second round at Wimbledon in June, with the tendinitis first flaring up three weeks ago at Stanford, the site of her first WTA tournament win in 2008.
Her right arm was immobilized for two weeks afterwards and she only began practising again last week.
"Playing one match in six weeks makes a difference, when you get out on the court you have no rhythm," she said. "I couldn’t expect too much out of myself with all the practice and matches I missed. But my opponent deserves a lot of credit. She played a great match."
Bacsinszky’s serve was extremely erratic with a first serve percentage of only 39 per cent, but Wozniak was unable to take advantage and ultimately fell in the first round of her home tournament for a second straight year.
Wozniak began the match well with three service winners and an ace in the opening game, but things began to go downhill when Bacsinszky broke her serve to go ahead 2-1 in the first set.
Wozniak wasted a break point opportunity in the subsequent game and then double faulted twice in a row to hand Bacsinszky another break for a 4-1 lead.
It was the same pattern in the second set as Bacsinszky got a break to go ahead 3-1 and never looked back, winning in straight sets in a swift 64 minutes.
"It’s not easy to lose in life," Wozniak said, "but especially here."
The tournament had its first upset in its very first match as 14th seed Shahar Peer of Israel suffered a straight set loss to Estonia’s Kaia Kenepi 6-3, 6-3.
Crowd favourite Aravane Rezai of France was nearly ousted as well, but the 16th seed recovered in time to defeat Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-7 (1), 7-5, 6-3 to the delight of the centre court fans.
"Without the public’s support, I really don’t think I could have come back," Rezai told the crowd on court after the match.
Rezai’s victory was a battle, saving 12 of 18 break point opportunities for Kvitova in the match and seven of 10 over the final two sets.
Peer, on the other hand, only had four break point opportunities in her match and converted two of them. Kanepi’s first serve severely handicapped the world’s 18th ranked player as Peer managed only six points on 31 first serve opportunities.
It was the first time in five tournaments that Peer did not make it past the first round.
That was not the case for three qualifiers Monday who needed three wins on the weekend just to make it to the main draw and now find themselves in the second round.
Jarmila Groth of Australia defeated Alona Bondarenko of Ukraine 7-6 (9), 6-2, Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic downed Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-2, and American Vania King came back to defeat Spain’s Anabel Medina Garrigues 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Also, former world No. 7 Patty Schnyder of Switzerland, who lost in qualifying but made the main draw as a lucky loser, advanced with a 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-3 win over Virginie Razzano of France.
The 13th seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium went through in straight sets and unseeded Dinara Safina of Russia, the 2008 Rogers Cup champion, dropped her first two games against Germany’s Andrea Petkovic but then cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 win on centre court.
Sybille Bammer of Austria and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan also won during Monday’s early matches.
The start of play Monday morning was delayed for just over an hour due to rain, but the evening matches still began on time.
Over the day and evening sessions 19,633 people passed through the turnstiles at Uniprix Stadium, a slight drop from day one in 2008.