Canadian tennis suffers at Rogers Cup

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:27 PM ET

TORONTO — The last Canadian singles player exiting the Rogers Cup had some high profile company en route to Pearson Airport Tuesday.

While Aleksandra Wozniak was expected to do a bit better than a first-round loss (6-4, 6-4 to Alisa Kleybanova) on home soil, at least she lasted 90 minutes longer than Venus Williams.

Expecting to be around much longer than one match, the elder of the Grand Slam sisters and the tour’s third-ranked player — lured back to the event after a 12-year absence — went home to Florida, losing 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 to 64th-ranked Katernya Bondarenko, another half of a sibling tour duo.

Venus is ranked just behind Serena, while the Ukrainian Bondarenko is the lesser-known kid sister of Alona, 34th ranked and also in this event.

“I haven’t had a lot of luck here,” Venus said of failing to get past the first round in previous trips in 1995 and ’97. “But you make your own luck these days. I definitely expected to play well in front of a lot of fans, so it’s disappointing.”

A few minutes before Bondarenko completed the two-hour upset, Venus had been lauded by WTA chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster for helping a committee that held the players accountable for appearing in more tourneys and being more fan friendly to boost events such as the

$2 million US Rogers Cup.

But Williams didn’t appear too devastated yesterday, vowing to use the extra week off to prep for the more vital U.S. Open. Bondarenko, meanwhile, said she would take “more confidence” from knocking off the 29-year-old, who is six years her senior.

Creamed 6-1 in the opening set, she started to handle Williams’ powerful serve much better than in two previous match losses.

“I think I can beat anybody if I can beat her,” said Bondarenko, who had just two other career victories against top 10 players. “It’s always difficult (losing a first set so decisively). I just started to focus.”

Williams said her opponent simply wanted it more.

“She just kept a lot of balls in play and ran down a lot of balls. I think I could have moved forward more, but a big part was too many errors.”

Ivanovic wins

Two other marathon matches highlighted afternoon play.

Ana Ivanovic, the 2006 Rogers champion, outlasted Slovakian qualifier Magdalena Rybarikova 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. Ivanovic, the former No. 1, now hopes shake the No. 11, it being her current seed in the tourney, her current world ranking, and her placement just outside of the top 10 of For Him magazine’s list of the world’s sexiest women.

Shahar Peer, the 22-year-old Israeli who touched off a storm when a tournament in Dubai denied her a visa, beat Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (4).


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