MONTREAL — Rogers Cup tournament director Eugene Lapierre was disappointed when hometown favourite Eugenie Bouchard lost in her first match, but he said the Canadian Open women's tennis championships will survive the loss.
"We were hoping that Eugenie would do well here, but we still have the best players in the world and they are entertaining players to watch," said Lapierre, noting that the event was on track to beat its WTA attendance record of 175,000 spectators for a week-long tournament.
Two of the most popular players on the women's tour were featured in Uniprix Stadium on Wednesday and they took different routes to the round of 16.
Russia's Maria Sharapova delighted the afternoon crowd with a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over Garbine Muguruza of Spain while top-seeded Serena Williams crushed Australian Samantha Stosur 6-0, 6-2 in a 59-minute evening match that was interrupted by a 28-minute rain delay.
The fourth-seeded Sharapova, who is one of the most popular players on the women's tour, got off to a slow start when Muguruza broke her serve in the first game of the match. But Sharapova, whose best result in the Rogers Cup was an appearance in the 2009 final, grew stronger as the match went on.
"She played a very good first set, very aggressive," said Sharapova. "I haven't played (since Wimbledon) and it was good to get this match. I haven't played in Montreal in a while and I'm happy to be here and be healthy."
Sharapova was here two years ago, but a virus sidelined her before she could play her first match.
Williams, the top seed and defending champion, won the Citi Open title last week in Washington and looked to be in top form against Stosur. If she wasn't already a crowd favourite, Williams earned loud cheers when she answered questions in French during an on-court interview after her win. Williams said she was happy with the response from the fans.
"I've actually been studying French for most of my life, so I should be able to speak even better to be honest," said Williams. "I love it in Canada because I understand everything. It's a lot easier for me to speak (because) the accent is easier to understand."
Williams' main concern was with the toss on her serve in the second set.
"My toss was a little everywhere," said Williams. "I think I wasn't as relaxed as I wanted to be. But there's always room for improvement."
Williams will be back on centre court Thursday to play 15th-seeded Lucie Safarova. She has a 6-0 record against the Czech, but she said she expects a tough match.
"She's an interesting player," said Williams. "She's extremely tricky. I don't know how I got to be 6-0 against her because she plays really well. We've had some tough matches. I know we've gone three sets on occasion. It's definitely not an easy match for me."
Williams is looking for her fourth Canadian Open, but the first three were won in Toronto. Her only appearance here was in 2000, when an injury forced her to retire in the third set against Martina Hingis.
There was one upset in the afternoon session as Heather Watson, a qualifier from Britain reached the third round with a 6-2, 6-7, 7-6 win over 10th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia.
Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova, the No. 2 seed, defeated Aussie Casey Dellacqua 6-3, 6-2; sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany had no trouble with Caroline Garcia of France, winning 6-4, 6-2, while seventh-seeded Jelena Jankovic of Serbia battled past American Sloane Stephens 6-7, 6-4, 7-6.
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, the 11th seed, cruised past Czech Klara Koukalova 6-1, 6-2; 14th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain outlasted Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 and Safarova defeated Magdalena Rybarikova 6-4, 6-2.
In matches between unseeded players, Serena's older sister Venus beat qualifier Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-2; Sabine Lisicki of Germany outlasted American teenager Madison Keys 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 and Ekaterina Makarova beat fellow Russian Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-2.
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