Dubois leads Canadians

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:25 AM ET

Stephanie Dubois has ditched the wide-eyed look she used to bring with her to the Rogers Cup.

As a child, the 20-year-old Laval, Que. native would dream of one day playing in the tournament herself while seeking autographs from Steffi Graf and other women stars.

Following yesterday's match on the stadium court at Rexall Centre, Dubois was on the other end of the pen, basking in a thrilling win over Japan's Ai Sugiyama.

The self-admitted "feisty" Dubois, fought back from a 5-3 hole, dodging one match point in the process, to cap off a wild third set and a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5 win.

Feeding off the crowd, which thickened as the match went deeper, Dubois fist-pumped her way through, leading a three-woman Canadian charge into the second round.

It will mark the first time a trio of homegrown players have advanced to the second round since 1991.

"The crowd was amazing, the support really helped me get through that," said Dubois, who needed a boost after a match that once seemed well in hand turned into a nail-biting 21/2 hour marathon.

"This means a lot to me because it's my favourite tournament. Since I was little, I watched it and wanted to play in it so I'm really happy that I (can) keep going."

Dubois, who advanced to the third round a year ago in Montreal, faces a tall order to keep that happening today when she meets No. 6 seed Nadia Petrova of Russia.

Fellow Quebecer Aleksandra Wozniak also advanced over Russian Anastasia Rodionova, who retired because of a knee injury trailing 6-4, 5-0.

And a third Canadian moved on late last night when Quebec-born player, veteran Marie-Eve Pelletier, defeated Oakville's Ekaterina Shulaeva 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

All of them have admitted to being inspired by Niagara Falls native Frank Dancevic's trip to the quarter-finals in the men's Rogers Cup last week in Montreal.

Wozniak, for one, says she shared a similar plight to Dancevic earlier in the season.

"Like Frank, I had a lot of close matches against tough players and I haven't been able to close them out and win them," Wozniak said.

"I think my time's going to come soon."

Wozniak, the best-ranked Canadian here at 103rd, feels her game is rounding into shape at just the right time.

"I feel like I've been working on my endurance," said Wozniak, who faces Austrian lefty Sybille Bammer, the tourney's 13th seed. "Physically I am stronger and I'm playing more tournaments so I feel comfortable out there."

If there was a surprise among the Canadian wins yesterday it came from Dubois. Her 32-year-old opponent may be on the downside, but as a six-time tour winner, Sugiyama still is ranked 27th in the world, 88 spots better than Dubois.

"I think I'm really feisty on the court," Dubois said.

"I think if I was not like this in that match, maybe it would have went the other way."

Action heats up today with three of the top four seeds hitting the stadium court for their first appearance, including top seed Justine Henin vs. Andreja Klepac at 7:30 p.m.

No. 3 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia got a head start on the other top contenders last night, beating Italian Roberta Vinca of Italy 6-2, 7-6 (7).

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YESTERDAY'S HIGHLIGHTS

- Stephanie Dubois def. A. Sugiyuma, Japan, 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5.

- Aleksandra Wozniak was leading Anastasia Rodionova 6-4, 5-0 when the Russian retired.

- Marie-Eve Pelletier, Canada, def. Ekaterina Shulaeva, Canada, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

DOUBLES

- Francesca Schiavone and Roberta Vinci (7), Italy, def. Valerie Tetreault and Aleksandra Wozniak, 6-4, 6-2.

- Andreea Ehritt-Vanc, Romania, and Anastasia Rodionova, Russia, def. Stephanie Dubois and Monique-Eve Pelletier, 6-4, 6-4.

MATCHES OF NOTE TODAY

- Stephanie Dubois vs. Nadia Petrova, not before 1 p.m.

- Ana Ivanovic vs. Zi Yan, to follow

- Justine Henin vs. Andreja Klepac, not before 7:30 p.m.


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