TORONTO, Canada - Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska shook off the nerves to close out the victory against former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka and power into the third round of the Rogers Cup.
The 19-year-old’s firepower was on full display on Grandstand, blasting 47 winners and seven aces past Azarenka en route to the 7-5, 7-5 victory.
“I think I was stubborn today, and very determined to go for each ball,” Yastremska told wtatennis.com after the match. “I think this helped me to calm my nerves and play my game.”
Yastremska, who has already taken home WTA titles at Hua Hin and Strasbourg, started the tournament with a comprehensive straight-sets upset over No.13 seed Johanna Konta, 6-3, 6-2. Today’s result gives the young Ukranian her first back-to-back Premier-level match wins of her career.
Yastremska made a dream start in the opening set, grabbing an early break at 2-0 and staying toe-to-toe with the two-time Grand Slam winner through the opening stretches. She extended her lead to a daunting 5-1 - but Azarenka’s clutch tennis saw her save a set point a game later to break straight back.
Azarenka saved three more break points, and as her confidence rose so did her firepower, and she quickly reeled off another break to get them level at 5-5. But a handful of loose errors gave Yastremska a way back into the set, and the teenager took her chances to take the opening set, 7-5.
The former World No.1 looked to have steadied the ship in the second set, dodging a pair of break points and earning the early lead, 5-3. Azarenka served for the set twice, but each time Yastremska pegged her back, and the 19-year-old reeled off four games in a row to book her spot into the third round.
“I felt like I was really purposeful in deciding moments, and that’s what was the difference today between us. In important moments, deciding moments, I tried to stay calm with my mind and try to keep everything simple - not play so risky, like I usually do.”
Up next, Yastremska will face another opponent in 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin, who scored the stunner of the tournament to knock out World No.1 Ashleigh Barty in the second round, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 - and in the process has blown the door wide open for Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova to usurp the WTA’s top ranking.
“We had a nice match at Wimbledon, but it wasn’t easy,” Yastremska said, referring to her three-set win over the American in the second round. “But that’s grass, it’s completely different.
“Tomorrow it’s another day, another surface, another match. We will see how it goes. I’ll try to play my best, I’ll try to play my game and focus only on myself.”