QUEBEC CITY, Canada -- Canadian wild card Rebecca Marino pulled off a quick upset in the first round of the Coupe Banque Nationale présentée par IGA, ousting No.7 seed Tatjana Maria of Germany, 6-2, 6-2.
The players had not faced off since their only prior meeting way back in 2011, in the qualifying rounds of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, but it was 27-year-old Marino who triumphed both then and now in straight sets, with today's victory taking just a scant one hour and nine minutes.
Former World No.38 Marino had taken an extended hiatus from the sport between 2014 and 2017 but has returned with a vengeance, already back up to a ranking of No.264 and now claiming a stunning win over World No.62 Maria, a semifinalist in Quebec City last year.
"It’s the first [WTA-level] main draw win I’ve had [in the comeback], that’s something special in itself," a delighted Marino told the media, after her victory. "It’s really nice, and it indicates all the hard work I’ve been putting in recently."
"I was [aged] 20, 21 when I was at my highest ranking, and so much time has passed, it’s not really fair if I try to compare myself to then," Marino continued. "I’m looking at this as my career 2.0, just enjoying the process and trying to compete as hard as I can."
Marino demonstrated steeliness by saving all six break points she faced during the encounter, and she was strong with her first serve, winning 21 of 30 points when she got that shot in the box. Maria, who won her first WTA singles title at the Mallorca Open this year, out-aced Marino by five to four, but struggled on second serve, winning only seven of 26 points following that delivery.
"I knew [Maria] has a very unorthodox game style, with all her slice, and that could suit her very well," said Marino. "She plays well on grass, she won a title on grass, which would be similar to this surface in terms of speed. So I was just trying to take every opportunity. I’m really pleased with today’s performance."
In the second round, former Canadian No.1 Marino will face big-serving Spaniard Georgina Garcia Perez, who took out Russia's Evgeniya Rodina in three sets in the opening round.
"I don’t know anything about her game, so I’m going to do a little research tonight," Marino stated with a laugh.
Marino was overpowering on the day with her stellar serve and powerful forehand, and the Canadian dominated the scoreline from the start by going up an early break and fending off four break points in a difficult service game to hold for 3-1.
Crafty Maria ventured to the net often, hoping to use her beautiful drop volleys and slices to regain footing, but the opening set was quickly heading Marino’s way, with the Canadian breaking again for 4-1 after a service return winner dribbled over the netcord.
Serving for the set, Marino blinked and squandered two straight set points, but a strong crosscourt backhand passing shot for a winner brought up a third chance, and the wild card closed out the opening frame with a thundering overhead.
Marino replicated her fine first-set form in the second set, finding and thumping her forehand whenever she could to break for 1-0, and garnering a second break for good measure at 3-1, taking the Maria serve at love with a punishing backhand winner down the line.
At 5-2, the Canadian again let things get complicated. At 30-30, Maria chased down four straight overheads by Marino until the fifth finally set up match point, but Marino missed that chance with a double fault. Two more match points were fended off by the German before Marino took the match on her fourth match point, forcing an error with her last booming forehand of the day.