Rogers Cup: Aryna Sabalenka earns a massive upset win over Caroline Wozniacki in Montreal
Aryna Sabalenka showed true determination to win big at the Rogers Cup in Montreal Thursday. Going long with the second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, the 20-year-old captured a spot in the third round where she defeated the Dane 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(4) on Court Central at IGA Stadium.
The revenge for losing in England came true for the youngster adding a major accomplishment to her year.
The two met back at Eastbourne where the Belarussian took the Dane for a ride pushing both sets to the brink.
Though Wozniacki managed to keep her back each time to claim the title she knew that it wouldn’t be the same going on hard courts where she is strong on.
It was her first match back since the second round at Wimbledon making it very important how fast she came out of the gate against Sabalenka
The Belarussian decided to set the pace quickly landing three aces against the Dane to score her first serve to love.
Wozniacki answered back with a stronghold in the second but continued to face Sabalenka's who kept her pace high in the third. Wozniacki had a slow service in the fourth but kept herself level with the 20-year-old.
They went to seven where Sabalenka almost slipped up on serve but saved the breakpoint to force deuce.
She put together two big forehands when Wozniacki was vulnerable containing her lead. The former world number one called her father and coach down to help her figure out a way to counteract the Belarussian and dictate the rest of the set.
She couldn’t get it done giving Sabalenka the break that put her in position to serve for the set.
With Wozniacki's leg still taped up the Belarussian pushed her opponent but found herself getting into trouble.
She allowed the Dane to break her in the ninth giving the 28-year-old enough time to regroup on serve and make it a five all score.
A battle ensued in the 11th where control was huge for both. Sabalenka put down an ace to force deuce but double faulted a fifth time losing out on the lead. She called down her coach Marcus Tideman on what to do to break back and force the tiebreak.
She fell behind on points with Wozniacki but forced deuce to try and stay alive. She made a key mistake that handed the Dane the chance to put it away and delivered a forced error to Sabalenka ending the set in 56 minutes.
Both had solid first serve percentages but dismal results from their returns. The edge went to Wozniacki's second serve which did just enough to get into the position she wanted to be after the set.
It didn’t go that way again as Sabalenka caught a good wind in her service game and broke Wozniacki in the fourth to take the lead. She continued to fire away on serve in the fifth holding the Dane to a single point.
Sabalenka rallied back to her position in the opening set leading 4-1 with the need to contain Wozniacki from getting back into contention.
The 28-year old gained a second victory but watched the Belarussian hold serve in the seventh sitting one game from going to a decider.
Wozniacki showed resiliency in the eight where she had a serve to love in play but dropped two errors to give Sabalenka the opportunity to force deuce with a winning return.
She gained a set point chance on the break smashing the winner on the 13th shot of the rally bringing her dead even in the match after 30 minutes.
It was clear that the difference on second serves changed in favor of the 20-year-old who scored three of four while Wozniacki only had three of nine.
With the tables beginning with Sabalenka in the final set, she only had one more chance to pull off an upset of the world number two.
She kept the heat on with a solid service game in the first setting up the final smash with Wozniacki out of reach.
The Dane responded with a service hold in the second trying to break down her opponent and find a way to counter.
She still trailed Sabalenka after five who was quickly speeding through her games while pushing to Dane to drop another game on serve. It was not occurring the way she wanted it to as Wozniacki continued to match in the set leaving no room for error.
The Dane made a break to serve strong in the seventh before going for a massive break that gave her a chance to serve for a spot in the third round. Sabalenka was under serious pressure to hold in the ninth but double-faulted for a ninth time to force deuce.
The advantage point was anyone's to capture but the leverage began to lean Wozniacki's way. She saved three match points in what was an eight-minute game where the 20-year-old held on to contain the serve after five breaks were played in the ninth.
While it was an important game for Sabalenka to win, she sat a game down with Wozniacki serving for the match. The Belarussian would let her get it as she rallied to two break points to secure the tenth and send the set deep.
The Belarussian had to even herself with Wozniacki after she took the first step to try and conclude the match her way. Sabalenka's tenacity paid off earning her chance to go for a big moment on the tiebreak.
The 20-year-old got out of an early stalemate taking the 4-3 lead over Wozniacki before slowly and surely getting to two points ahead of her. Wozniacki got one more to her name before the Belarussian capped the match with a winner ending 2 hours and 31 minutes and what became the biggest win of her career.
"I’m so happy right now because last time I lost to her in two sets and now I did it finally so I am so happy," she said during her on-court interview. "This is a big step for me," she said when told that she took down the world number two. "This is really important for me." She would have more important matters on her hands as she faced Elise Mertens later tonight.