MONTREAL, Canada -- In a battle between former Rogers Cup finalists, No.13 seed Venus Williams of the United States ousted Sorana Cirstea of Romania, 7-6(4), 6-4 on Thursday, to move into the third round in Montreal, after a match that was postponed from Wednesday.
Former World No.1 Williams, who reached the Rogers Cup championship match in 2014 before falling to Agnieszka Radwanska, overcame a difficult challenge in the opening set from Cirstea, being a point away from a 2-5 deficit before turning that set around and eventually prevailing in the match after an hour and a half of play.
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams moved through by going 4-for-4 on break points despite 30 unforced errors and seven double faults. Cirstea, who reached the Rogers Cup final in 2013, the year before Williams, had 34 unforced errors of her own, and squandered eight of her 11 break points.
Williams must now recover for a second match of the day, where she will face another Romanian, World No.1 Simona Halep, who overcame Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia minutes after Williams defeated Cirstea on Thursday.
World No.54 Cirstea used her power game to claim a strong lead in the opening set, breaking Williams in the opening game and holding through for a 4-2 lead. There, Williams found herself in dire straits on her serve again, double faulting to give the Romanian triple break point. But the veteran used her big forehand and serve to extricate herself from that predicament and hold.
Staying within touching distance proved pivotal for Williams, as she found a way back into the set when an error-prone Cirstea had difficulty serving for the set at 5-4. The Romanian double faulted to set up double break point for Williams, which the American converted after a forehand error by Cirstea, tying the set at 5-5.
Williams fended off a break point in her next service game with a forehand winner as the players moved into the tiebreak. A handful of wide miscues by Cirstea gave Williams a 4-2 lead, and a double fault by the Romanian put Williams up 5-2. Williams polished off the tiebreak on her second set point once Cirstea fired a backhand unforced error long.
Williams seemed to take command early in the second set, breaking Cirstea at love for a 3-2 lead after a forehand by the Romanian flew long. But Cirstea steeled herself and broke back at love straight away, after a long forehand error by the American.
This was the start of a run of five straight breaks of serve, as both players were attacking on returns and drawing their opponent into rallies which often concluded with unforced errors. Williams was the first to reach match game, breaking Cirstea at love for a 5-4 lead after another long forehand by the Romanian.
Cirstea aimed to make it six consecutive breaks, reaching break point as Williams served for the match. But a strong serve by the former top-ranked player was slammed into the net by Cirstea, letting Williams pull back to deuce. Williams navigated her way to two match points, and on the second, Cirstea ended a rally with a wide backhand, giving Williams a service hold, and the victory.
More to follow...