By Brodie McPhee
TORONTO, Canada – It was another drama filled day at the Rogers Cup. There were noÂ rain delays, but there were two separate power outages across the grounds, the first due to an Ontario Hydro problem, and the second due to the back-up generators being overworked.
Perhaps it was a sign of things to come, as three grand slam champions on tap for the day session were ousted. First was 2011 French Open champion Na Li, upset by Samantha Stosur, and second was 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, eliminated by Andrea Petkovic.
But perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was Maria Sharapova‘s elimination from the tournament at the hands of qualifier Galina Voskoboeva. A combination of drop shots andÂ spinning slices from both wings kept Sharapova on the run and unable to play her preferred baseline heavy game.
For Voskoboeva, it was the culmination of hard work paying off over a fantastic week. â€œI’m happy, but it’s not like, you know, something that’s a miracle because I was working really hard.â€
Voskoboeva has been working with retired former top 100 player Alina Jidkova, and she believes the relationship has paid dividends. â€œI’m happy that we are doing good together, because it doesn’t happen very often, like that you can find the person with who you feel confident, comfortable, and you can understand each other.â€
The night session featured Serena Williams taking on Jie Zheng, in what was possibly the greatest match of the tournament. Williams dropped the first set to Zheng who relied on an aggressive second serve return to earn the break, standing as far in as half way between the baseline and service box. Combined with her quick, compact strokes she was able to absorb the pace of Williams strong groundstrokes and return the with interest, often creating difficult angles in the process. She only faced one break point in the set, which she saved, and took the first set 6-4.
From then on in, it was Williams’ chance to take control of the match, showing a burst of emotion and getting the crowd solely behind her. â€œIt’s so awesome to have their support,” said Williams.Â “It’s so cool when I’m out here and I hear them cheering for me. It totally helps, so I like it,â€ said Williams. Zheng’s level dropped, and Williams used her signature serve and forehand to take the next two sets and the match, winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. AnotherÂ key to the victory was her excellent movement in defense, which culminated in an incredible running forehand down the line passing shot which ended with Williams doing the splits. â€œDid you like those?â€ Williams laughed, â€œI have been working on them. Whenever I can, I try to get to do it. I love doing the splits on and off the court.â€
In the last match of the day, Lucie Safarova continued the trend set earlier in the day, upsetting 2010 French Open champion and 8th seeded Francesca Schiavone, 6-3, 6-3.
During the day’s outer court action, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Vera Zvonareva in a rematch of the Mercury Insurance Open final, Victoria Azarenka defeated Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, and Roberta Vinci defeated Ana Ivanovic. Ivanovic later retired from her doubles match part way through the first set due to pain in her left wrist.
Brodie McPhee is the author of the tennis web site Mind the Racket. Heâ€™s in Toronto this week covering the Rogers Cup WTA edition for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter at @GVTennisNews and his personal twitter @MindTheRacket.