It’s been one triumph after another for Eugenie Bouchard this summer but now the 18-year-old from the Montreal neighbourhood of Westmount will face the toughest test of her young career.
Bouchard won the tough points when it counted late in the third set to post a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over veteran Shahar Peer on Wednesday and advance to the second round of the $2.168-million Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament.
That set up a meeting Thursday with Li Na, the 10th seed and winner of the 2010 French Open. At 56th in the world, Peer was the highest ranked opponent Bouchard ever beat. Li is ranked 11th.
“She won a grand slam, so she’s really obviously a very good player,” said Bouchard. “I’m looking forward to playing her here in front of this crowd and hopefully they’ll support me again.
“I’ll try to play my best.”
The hardcourt event is looking for star power, particularly after its biggest draw Maria Sharapova withdrew Wednesday morning with a stomach ailment she picked up at the London Olympics. Sharapova won silver in London, losing the final to Serena Williams.
Bouchard and Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., who will face Jelena Jankovic in the second round, are certainly favourites with their home crowd.
Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion and fifth seed, was in tough against Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan, who was up a set when the second round match was delayed 30 minutes by rain tied 4-4 in the second.
Pervak had been looked at for an injury just before delay, and when they returned, Kvitova put the match away quickly 4-6, 7-6 (-0), 6-0.
Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa caught a break as her opponent, 14th seeded Flavia Pennetta, retired with a wrist injury while leading the first set 4-1.
Bouchard has been on a roll this summer, taking two $10,000 ITF events in Bastad before heading to Wimbledon, where she became the first Canadian singles player to win a grand slam event at any level with a victory over Elina Svitolina in the final. She also took the Wimbledon junior girls doubles title.
She followed with a win at a $25,000 tournament in Granby, Que., before reaching the third round of a WTA Tour stop in Washington last week.
“It’s not a surprise to me,” she said. “I’ve always believed in myself.
“I know I have the level to do that and more. It just takes a lot of hard work and so that’s what I’m going to do.”
The centre court crowd at Uniprix Stadium was solidly behind Bouchard, who won the first nine points of the match as Peer struggled with her service.
She shone in the final set, breaking serve to tie it 4-4, rebounding from 15-40 to hold her own, and breaking again on match point.
“I was proud of the way I played and fought,” Bouchard said. ’I’m happy I was able to pull it out.
“After I won, it a was great feeling. I want to keep having matches like this and emotions like this after I win.”
Sara Errani of Italy, the eighth seed, defeated Slovak qualifier Jana Cepelova 6-3, 6-2. Errani will take on either Na or Bouchard in the round of 16.
Sharapova was replaced in the draw by “lucky loser” Galina Voskoboeva, whose first opponent will be American Christina McHale. McHale eliminated qualifier Arantxa Rus 3-6, 6-1, 6-3.
Qualifier Kiki Bertins of the Netherlands downed 28-time WTA Tour winner and former world No. 3 Nadia Petrova 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4 to advance to a second-round meeting with Danish star Caroline Wozniacki.
Mona Barthel beat Hungarian qualifier Timea Babos 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (5) and will next face second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska. Shuai Peng beat qualifier Aravane Rezai to set up a meeting with No. 9 Marion Bartoli.
In doubles, the only Canadians in the draw were eliminated when the Slovak pair of Ekaterina Makarova and Daniela Hantuchova ousted Sharon Fichman of Toronto and Marie-Eve Pelletier of Repentigny, Que.,5-7, 6-3, 12-10.
Bouchard and Wozniak went down 6-2, 6-3 to Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears.