|Aleksandra Wozniak reacts after defeating Shahar Peer in the Rogers Cup at the Rexall Centre in Toronto, Ont., Aug. 9, 2011. (STAN BEHAL/QMI Agency)
TORONTO - So much for all the doom and gloom about the possibility a Canadian wouldn't make it past the first round of the Rogers Cup.
When Canada's top-ranked singles player, Rebecca Marino, was bounced from the tournament by unknown Russian Ekaterina Makarova Monday, and Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., bowed out against 11th-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany early Tuesday, the hand-wringing began in earnest.
But a pair of Quebeckers, Stephanie Dubois of Laval and Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, re-charged the Canadian cheering section by advancing to the second round in surprisingly easy fashion.
"It's exciting," Wozniak said. "It's always been tough for Canadians to have success at the Rogers Cup. It's awesome that two Canadians are into the second round."
Dubois got the ball rolling when she beat German qualifier Kathrin Woerle 7-6, 6-1 then Wozniak, winner of the ITF Odlum Brown VanOpen on Sunday, barely broke a sweat in downing Shahar Peer of Israel 6-1, 6-0.
"It's always nice to play in your country," Dubois said. "I like the fact that the crowd was cheering for me. But it always gave me good energy, never put pressure on me."
Against 141st-ranked Woerle, Dubois struggled to find her game in the first set and needed to win in a tiebreak. The second set was a different story entirely as the 24-year-old needed less than 40 minutes to finish off Woerle.
"It was a tough first set, she was not giving me a lot of rhythm," Dubois said. "Her game style is different than most of the girls on the tour. So it was very tough but I think I really fought well. In the tiebreak I went for some shots and it went well.
"I got momentum in the second set and I served much better in the second. It made a difference, I think."
Wozniak broke Peer twice to take a 4-0 lead in the first set before the Israeli broke back. But that was as close as it would get as the Canuck reeled off eight straight wins to close it out in just 43 minutes.
"Last week (in Vancouver) I had five good matches and it helped me gain confidence," Wozniak said. "Today it showed. I thought I made less errors and was more consistent."
Don't plan the champions' parade for either Canuck yet, though. Both have highly seeded opponents in the second round -- Dubois plays No. 4 Victoria Azarenko of Belarus and Wozniak meets No. 10 Samantha Stosur of Australia -- so the flag-waving could come to a quick halt.