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Dealing with new pressures, Muguruza, Pliskova cruise in Rogers Cup openers

Aug 09, 2017
written by: Tennis Canada
written by: Tennis Canada

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and new World No.1 Karolina Pliskova arrived in Toronto with everything to prove – and they did just that on Day 5 of Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.

Muguruza kicked off proceedings with a straight sets victory over Kirsten Flipkens. Despite a closely contested first set, the Spaniard remained cool under the hot Canadian sun and eventually ran away with the match, 7-5, 6-2 in 1 hour and 25 minutes.

The 23-year-old has been candid this season in describing her struggles to play under the pressure of being a Grand Slam champion. Following her maiden Slam victory at Roland Garros last season, she was rarely able to recapture her world-beating form – that is until she hit the lawns of Wimbledon and blasted her way to her second major title.

Given her semifinal appearance in Stanford last week and her emphatic finish to today’s match, it doesn’t appear Muguruza will be suffering a Grand Slam hangover the second time around.

All eyes then turned to Karolina Pliskova, who despite an early exit at Wimbledon became the 23rd woman in history to reach the top of the WTA rankings following fellow contender Simona Halep’s quarterfinal exit.

Despite playing with a similar kind of pressure to Muguruza, the towering Czech made light work of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-3, against whom she had never dropped a set. Pliskova advances to the third round to face talented teenager Naomi Osaka of Japan.

Earlier in the day, Caroline Garcia continued her impressive summer form in a 6-1, 6-4 dismissal of Varvara Lepchenko. No.10 seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who looked to be back to her best in her first round win over Coco Vandeweghe, brushed aside Timea Babos 6-0, 6-1 in just 46 minutes.

Eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova became the first seed to fall today following a 6-4, 7-5 defeat to Cici Bellis. No.11 seed Dominika Cibulkova and No.16 seed Elena Vesnina also made their exits, losing out to Lucie Safarova and Ashleigh Barty, respectively.

Closing out the day session, Venus Williams fought past Katerina Siniakova, 7-5, 7-5.