MONTRÉAL, Canada - The first round of the Rogers Cup wrapped up on Wednesday afternoon, with a few players coming back from the brink of defeat just to make the second round at the prestigious Premier-level tournament.
"In the beginning I wasn't playing so well, but I kept fighting and my level got better as the match went on," Bertens said. "Every day my form is getting better on hardcourt, so I hope I can keep that going moving forward here."
It has been a breakthrough season for Bertens, capturing her first WTA title on the clay courts of Fès, Morocco and subsequently breaking the Top 100 - and now the 20-year-old Dutchwoman matches her career-best win in terms of ranking, having beaten a No.22-ranked Lucie Safarova at Wimbledon.
Next up is World No.8 Caroline Wozniacki. "I've never played a Top 10 player, this will be my first time, so I hope I can enjoy it and play my best."
What Bertens may not realize is it's not only her first time playing against a Top 10 player, it's also her first time playing against a Top 20 player.
Other grinders saw Christina McHale rally to beat another Dutch qualifier, Arantxa Rus, 36 61 63; Mona Barthel regroup after letting a 64 53 lead go to beat Hungarian qualifier Timea Babos, 64 57 76(5); and Canadian wildcard Eugenie Bouchard come from a break down in the third set to beat Shahar Peer, 36 62 75. Peng Shuai and Varvara Lepchenko won in straight sets.
"I loved the atmosphere. The crowd reaction was insane," Bouchard said. "I'm proud of the way I played and fought, especially in the third set. I was getting tired but I stayed in there. I'm happy I continued playing the way I wanted to."
One player succumbed before even taking the court, as Maria Sharapova - who was to be the No.3 seed this week - announced her withdrawal from the Rogers Cup earlier in the day due to a stomach virus. "It's unfortunate I had to withdraw late this morning from a stomach illness I've had the last couple of days," Sharapova told reporters. "I came to Montréal hoping I would recover, but this morning I was still not very well, so I wasn't going to be able to practice, which is not the best preparation in order to compete tomorrow.
"I was really looking forward to coming here and playing in front of my fans, but there's always a next time and I hope that time will come very soon.
"We all want to have the best preparation we can for the US Open, and this is a really big tournament for all of us. Personally, I was here in order to play the tournament. I was ready - but my body is just not ready for it yet."
Sharapova was replaced in the draw by Galina Voskoboeva, who lost in the last round of qualifying. Last year in Toronto the Kazakh made it all the way to the quarterfinals of the main draw as a qualifier, scoring her first two Top 10 wins along the way against Marion Bartoli and, coincidentally, Sharapova.