TORONTO, Canada - Top-ranked Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu thrilled the home crowd by winning her first match played since Roland Garros, surviving a tough challenge from compatriot and former World No.5 Eugenie Bouchard, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the second round of the Rogers Cup.
"To be able to play in front of my home crowd is always a special feeling," she explained after the match. I've had many memories here. I played two years ago on that court, so I had a bit of experience of what to expect, but today was crazier than usual because I was playing a Canadian too. I'm just really happy with how I played today."
After winning the first and biggest title of her young career at the BNP Paribas Open, Andreescu has been hindered by a nagging shoulder injury - restricting her to just two tournaments since - but appears back to fighting form after a two hour, nine minute tussle on Centre Court.
"It's been a rollercoaster, but I've been preparing really well for the last couple weeks, and that preparation really showed tonight," she said during her on-court interview. "I'm feeling really good, no pain."
Where Andreescu has struggled with injury, Bouchard has dealt with her share of inconsistency, having not won a match since playing former World No.1 Simona Halep tough at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
"We know each others' game so well," she said, adding later that the two texted about the match-up over the weekend. "I wasn't expecting anything easy, but I wasn't trying to focus on who I was playing. I stuck to the right tactics tonight.
"We just had a little conversation going, and she's like, 'Yeah, it's pretty crazy, but let's put on a show. Let's just give it all we got.'"
Because tennis is a pretty serious sport, so it's just nice to let loose a little bit like that.
Nonetheless, the 2014 Wimbledon finalist enjoyed a strong start, breaking to open the match and shaking off a mid-set fightback from Andreescu to remain in front and capture the first set on her fourth set point.
"In the first set I was a bit nervous," Andreescu said. "I'm not going to lie. But I shook those nerves, and I tried to refocus for the second set, and I stuck to the right tactics. I made sure to put pressure right from the start of the point, and I think that's what I really did today."
Known for her fighting spirit - on display throughout three-set thrillers at the BNP Paribas Open and Miami Open - the 19-year-old promptly turned the tables on Bouchard to start the second set, racing out to a 5-1 lead and leveling the match with some impressive aggression.
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Andreescu took that momentum into the decider, and while two ill-timed double faults helped Bouchard level things at three games apiece, the World No.27 broke straight back and served out the match shortly thereafter.
In all, she struck 29 winners to just 10 from Bouchard and converted six of 12 break point opportunities to score her 20th WTA main draw match of the season.
Standing between the hometown favorite and a spot in the third round is fellow youngster Daria Kasatkina, who won a titanic tussle of her own Monday night against former World No.1 Angelique Kerber.
"Every tournament I play, I want to win, but I'm just going to take it match by match, and see how it goes."