In front of a packed crowd of enthusiastic supporters, defending Rogers Cup champion Simona Halep got her 2017 campaign off to a solid start, overcoming Magdalena Rybarikova in 1h and 40 minutes.
It doesn’t matter where in the world she plays – Halep’s legion of passionate fans always manage to find her. The Romanian contingent was out in full force, but Halep, the defending champion and 2015 finalist, had plenty of support from her Canadian fans as well.
The mercurial Rybarikova, however, seemed unphased by the crowd and applied constant pressure with her crisp slice backhand and puzzling changes of pace. Halep managed to pull away at the end of each seat with a combination of patience and pin-point accuracy on her groundstrokes, eventually sealing a hard-fought 6-3, 6-4 victory under the lights.
Later in the evening, No.3 seed Angelique Kerber fought past Donna Vekic 6-4, 7-6(5), while 2012 champion Petra Kvitova bowed out to a resurgent Sloane Stephens, who eventually prevailed 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2.