QUÉBEC CITY, Canada - Polona Hercog pulled off the first big upset of the week at the Bell Challenge - it doesn't get any bigger, actually - taking out top seed and defending champion Kirsten Flipkens.
With some spectacular serving - she had a 76% first serve percentage and won 86% of those points, and only lost six points in eight service games - Hercog totally dominated Flipkens, even breaking her twice per set en route to a 54-minute, 63 61 victory in front of a shocked center court crowd.
"My first serve percentage was high and I was moving well, and I really tried to push my game into hers, and not let her play her game," Hercog said. "I've known her for quite a few years and we have practiced together quite a few times, so I knew her game, but I really just tried to focus on myself and not think about playing the top seed and defending champion - it's just too much extra pressure.
"Of course, everyone wants to beat the top seed and defending champion, so I'm really happy."
Flipkens was only complimentary towards Hercog afterwards in her post-match press conference.
"I actually felt quite okay on the court today - it's just Polona was playing the match of her life, and all I can say is congratulations," Flipkens said. "I've had a great year and I'm really enjoying what I love to do, which is playing tennis, and I've really taken a step forward. You have ups and downs sometimes, but it wasn't me who played badly today, I just have to give all credit to her for playing so well."
It was a little bit of reverse déjà vu for Flipkens, too. "It's like last year here when I played the top seed in the first round, Dominika Cibulkova, and I played the best tennis of my life," Flipkens added.
Hercog's win over the World No.14 was the second-best win of her career, after then-No.7 Marion Bartoli at 2012 Charleston. She has five Top 20 wins overall, the others coming at 2011 Rome (No.15 Andrea Petkovic), 2012 Beijing (No.20 Ekaterina Makarova) and 2013 Cincinnati (No.19 Cibulkova).
Three more matches took place at night, with No.2 seed Kristina Mladenovic blasting 12 aces to beat American qualifier Melanie Oudin, 76(5) 57 62; No.4 seed Bethanie Mattek-Sands beating Canadian wildcard Stéphanie Dubois, 63 64; and No.7 seed Lauren Davis beating Camila Giorgi, 67(5) 63 62.