Pliskova, Kerber exit in Montreal
The punishing serve that propelled Karolina Pliskova to the top of the tennis world last year proved ineffective against Kiki Bertens at the Rogers Cup in Montreal on Wednesday as the Dutchwoman cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
The ninth-seeded Czech failed to record a single ace in the second-round battle but committed eight double faults and was broken seven times by the defensive-minded Bertens.
Bertens will next meet eighth-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova, who advanced past Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-4 in their second-round battle on Tuesday.
Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber came crashing back to earth after she beat Serena Williams in the grasscourt final last month, falling 4-6, 1-6 to Alize Cornet of France.
The fourth-seeded German committed 32 errors to help Cornet reach the third round, where she will face Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, who defeated Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 7-6 (7), 6-2 in her second-round match.
Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu was forced to retire from her second-round match against fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina with the score 3-6, 7-6 (5), 3-4 after she suffered a right ankle injury.
The 30-year-old slipped on the baseline while running down a shot and immediately collapsed in tears. She eventually left the court in a wheelchair, waving to the crowd as it rose to give her an ovation.
The unseeded Maria Sharapova made quick work of fellow Russian Daria Kasatkina during their first meeting with a convincing 6-0, 6-2 win and will face sixth seed Caroline Garcia of France in the third round.
Third seed Sloane Stephens thrashed 21-year-old Francoise Abanda, dispatching the Canadian 6-0, 6-2 in 80 minutes.
The 25-year-old American is looking to sharpen her game ahead of her US Open title defense after disappointing results at Wimbledon and the Citi Open last month, where she was eliminated in the first and second rounds, respectively.
Rain forced two late matches to be halted, with top seed Simona Halep trailing Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 3-4, and British No. 1 Johanna Konta leading Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 3-0.
In Toronto, Rafael Nadal was made to wait before his second-round Rogers Cup match due to several rain delays but did his part to put the schedule back on track with a speedy 6-2, 6-3 win over Frenchman Benoit Paire on Wednesday.
World No. 1 Nadal, who kicked off the evening session a little over an hour after its original start time, had some issues with his serve later in the match but still needed only 74 minutes to secure his spot in the third round.
Nadal came out firing a dazzling array of shots that had Paire racing around the blue hardcourt from the outset and even desperately launching his racquet on one occasion in a failed attempt at a return that gave the Spaniard a 5-2 lead.
Nadal was made to work harder in the second where the players exchanged breaks over six consecutive games before the world No. 1 finally held in the ninth to seal the match when Paire sent a service return wide.
“Of course I was not at 100 percent today,” Nadal, 32, told reporters. “It’s true that with my serve in the second set I had some troubles but my return was working well ... it was more about the mistakes from the baseline in my opinion.”
Nadal will face Stan Wawrinka in the round of 16 after the Swiss veteran rallied to outlast Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 1-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (10).
In earlier action, a solid-serving Novak Djokovic kept his bid for a fifth Rogers Cup title alive with a 6-3 6-4 win over Canadian wildcard Peter Polansky.
The ninth-seeded Serb, competing in his first tournament since his Wimbledon triumph last month, won a dominant 83 percent of his first service points and wrapped up the day’s opener minutes before the first of several rain delays.
“I thought I served well in the moments when I really need it and I was looking for the first serve,” said Djokovic.
Next up for Djokovic is Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas, who upset Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem 6-3, 7-6 (6).
A win for Djokovic would set up a potential quarterfinal clash with German second seed Alexander Zverev, who advanced to the third round after a 6-4, 6-4 win over American Bradley Klahn.
Also advancing to the third round were Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson, fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov, sixth seed Marin Cilic, eighth seed John Isner, Dutchman Robin Haase and Russian Karen Khachanov, who upset Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busto 6-4, 7-6 (3).