Bianca Andreescu advanced to the third round of the Italian Open tennis tournament on Wednesday while fellow Canadian Leylah Fernandez lost her second-round match.
Andreescu moved on with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Spain’s Nuria Parrizas-Diaz as she moved on to the round of 16 at a WTA 1000 tournament for the second straight week.
Later, Fernandez dropped a close 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) decision to Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.
Andreescu proved to be the more opportunistic of the two in her match with Parrizas-Diaz that took one hour 38 minutes to complete.
The native of Mississauga, Ont., cashed in on all four of her break point opportunities. Parrizas-Diaz had several chances to make those up, but Andreescu defended nine of the 12 break points she faced.
Andreescu won 61.4 per cent of her service points, compared to 53.6 per cent for Parrizas-Diaz.
Andreescu will next face Croatia’s Petra Marti at the clay-court tournament. It will be the first meeting between the players.
Fernandez, of Laval, Que., came out on the wrong end of a back-and-forth match with Kasatkina which saw both players give up points on errors. Fernandez committee six double-faults in the match while Kasatkina had five.
Fernandez and Kasatkina also had issues holding serve, with the Canadian broken five times on 14 chances and Kasatkina broken four times on 10 opportunities.
Two Canadians were set to take part in men’s third-round action Thursday, with 13th-seed Denis Shapovalov up against Spanish legend Rafael Nadal and eighth-seed Félix Auger-Aliassime facing American Marcos Giron.
Nadal beat Shapovalov at the same stage last year in a gruelling three-set comeback victory in which the Spaniard saved two match points.
“Super lucky,” Nadal said, reflecting back to playing Shapovalov last year. “I know how dangerous he is. I need to play better than today.”
Throughout his career, Nadal has never lost consecutive matches on his clay court, his favourite surface, and the Spaniard extended that perfect record on Wednesday by beating John Isner 6-3, 6-1 to reach the third round of the Italian Open.
Nadal was coming off a loss to 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open quarter-finals last week. After a first-round bye, he improved to 44-0 in matches on clay following a loss on the surface.
Perhaps more importantly, Nadal regained some confidence as he works his way back from a rib stress fracture that kept him out for six weeks before the tournament in Madrid.
While he would clearly love to add to his record total of 10 Italian Open titles, Nadal’s bigger objective is regaining his top form in time for the French Open, which starts in less than two weeks. Nadal has won 13 of his 21 Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros.
When the match finished, Nadal headed straight to the practice court to hit more balls. He explained that he’s a “bit in a rush” to find his best form “as soon as possible.”
“I need to work as much as I can,” Nadal said. “The match today was not that demanding physically.”
Nadal improved to 19-0 against Americans on clay, having been forced to a deciding set only twice – both times by Isner, who pushed Nadal to five sets at the 2011 French Open and three sets at the 2015 Monte Carlo Masters.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka, playing only his second tournament after more than a year out following two surgeries on his left foot, edged Laslo Djere 7-6 (8), 3-6, 6-4 to set up a meeting with top-ranked Novak Djokovic.
Wawrinka had loud support from a packed crowd on the picturesque Pietrangeli court, which is lined with statues.
Second-seeded Alexander Zverev, who was routed by Alcaraz in the Madrid final on Sunday, beat Sebastian Baez 7-6 (6), 6-3 to end the Argentine qualifier’s eight-match winning streak.
Also, Stefanos Tsitsipas saved two match points before getting past Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (4); and Marcos Giron, an American qualifier, picked up his fourth win and five days by beating 2020 finalist Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 7-6 (4).
In an all-Italian matchup during the night session on Campo Centrale, 20-year-old Jannik Sinner beat 34-year-old Fabio Fognini 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Wearing a ribbon with the colours of Ukraine’s flag pinned to her hat, defending women’s champion Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 24 matches with a 6-3, 6-0 victory over Romanian qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse.
The top-ranked player from Poland will next face former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who beat Camila Osorio 6-2, 6-4.
Ons Jabeur, coming off her maiden 1000 title in Madrid, defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-2.
Also, 2019 French Open semifinalist Amanda Anisimova eliminated Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic 7-6 (5), 6-1; and Coco Gauff, who reached the semi-finals a year ago, defeated fellow American Madison Brengle 6-2, 6-4.
Madrid finalist Jessica Pegula advanced when Anhelina Kalinina withdrew before their match because of an upper back injury. The American will next face third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka.