|Aleksandra Wozniak hits a return to Christina McHale at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Que., Aug. 11, 2012. (BEN PELOSSE/QMI Agency)
MONTREAL - Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak earned an historic quarterfinal berth at the $2.168-million Rogers Cup on Saturday, defeating 26th-ranked American Christina McHale 7-6 (5), 6-4.
The victory, in a match cut short by rain Friday, made Wozniak the first Canadian woman in 20 years to move on to the quarterfinals on home soil.
Montrealer Patricia Hy-Boulais reached the Rogers Cup quarters in 1992. While growing up, Wozniak watched Hy-Boulais compete and dreamed of one day joining the WTA circuit, a goal she realized by becoming the top-ranked Canadian woman of her era.
"I've been coming to this tournament here since I was a little girl," said the native of Blainville, Que., a bedroom community north of Montreal.
"(Hy-Boulais) really inspired me and I am really happy that this happened."
The Canadian’s match had been halted just before 4 p.m. Friday with Wozniak one game away from winning the match. By 8:30, the rain had stopped long enough for workers to dry the court so that McHale and Wozniak could warm up and prepare to restart.
But just as Wozniak had a ball and was ready to serve for the match, the rain began to fall again and the entire evening session was washed out.
“(Rain delays) are not fun, but you have to stay focused on your game,” Wozniak said.
McHale said the overnight wait didn't help her chances.
"It felt like we were jinxed," McHale told reporters, "because right when we finished the warmup it started raining. It was tough just waiting around all day."
Wozniak was to take to the court later on Saturday against Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, who won a three-set duel against American Varvara Lepchenko 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The Canadian and the Dane have been forced to play two matches on the same day because of the rain delays. Wozniacki, a former world No. 1, has had a far more distinguished career than Wozniak but will be working on less rest and is nursing a leg injury that required a trainer’s attention during the Lepchenko match.
The 55th-ranked Canadian toppled three higher-ranked players to get the quarterfinals, having previously eliminated Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova (35th in the world) and former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, now 18th on the tour.
Wozniak now has a chance to move back into the top 30 for the first time since 2009 when she reached a career-high ranking of No. 21.
In 2010 and 2011, she slipped several spots in the standings due to numerous injuries and even dropped out of the top 100.
In an earlier match at centre court Saturday, world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska drew one step closer to becoming the world's No. 1 player by earning a berth in the quarterfinal draw.
The 23-year-old from Poland defeated unseeded South African Chanelle Scheepers 6-2, 6-4 and can jump into the top spot by winning the tournament final Monday.
She previously missed a chance to become No. 1 when she lost to Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final earlier this year.
Radwanska's path to a championship in Canada was made a little easier when Williams opted not to travel to Montreal and Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively, pulled out with injuries.
Deep and hard-hitting Chinese veteran Li Na awaits Radwanska in a quarterfinal that will be played later Saturday because of rain delays Friday.
The second quarterfinal matchup to be finalized Saturday will pit No. 5 seed Czech Petra Kvitova against unseeded Austrian Tamira Paszek, who got past Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday.
Another Czech, Lucie Safarova, will square off against Roberta Vinci of Italy after beating sixth-seeded German Angelique Kerber 6-2, 7-6 (7).