TENNIS

Zheng knocks down Andreescu; Pliskova triumphs in Toronto

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The top half of the National Bank Open presented by Rogers draw was upset by Beatriz Haddad Maia’s upset against world number one Iga Swiatek on Thursday, but a host of power players still fill that side of the draw.

Here’s how the rest of the Round of 16 played out in the top half:

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Zheng Qinwen defeats. Bianca Andreescu 7-5, 5-7, 6-2

Zheng Qinwen is the first Chinese player to reach the National Bank Open quarter-finals since Li Na in 2013.

Photo by Peter Power/Tennis Canada

Zheng continues to make waves in his breakthrough season on the Hologic WTA Tour. The 19-year-old Chinese, who started the season ranked 143rd but cracked the Top 50 earlier in the year, beat 2019 champion and hometown prospect Andreescu in just under three hours.

“I think both of us played our best tennis in the third set,” Zheng said after his victory. “At the end, I’m happy that I overcame the pressure and got this game.”

Zheng had 28 wins to Andreescu’s 16 as the teenager ended Andreescu’s eight-game winning streak in her Toronto backyard. With the victory, Zheng is in the first WTA 1000 quarter-final of his fledgling career.

Toronto: Zheng beats Andreescu to make the 1st WTA 1000 QF of his career

Toronto 2022

An overhead winner gave Zheng the one-set lead after a grueling 67 minutes. However, Andreescu got even after reaching the only break of the second set at 5-5 and then served the set consistently.

After an early exchange of breaks in the decider, Zheng used exceptional depth and well-placed groundstrokes to pull through the final three of the match and triumph over former US Open champion Andreescu.

Zheng will next face Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals, in their first meeting.

“I think it’s really important that tomorrow I can improve my serve and [serving] percentage,” Zheng said, looking forward to Pliskova. “Tomorrow will be a tough game, an interesting game. And I would like to take on a new challenge.”

(14) Karolina Pliskova beats. (3) Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-7(9), 6-3

Maria Sakkari and Karolina Pliskova share a smile after Pliskova’s hard-fought victory on Thursday.

Photo by Gyles Dias/Tennis Canada

Last year’s National Bank Open finalist Pliskova prevailed in a topsy-turvy two-and-a-half-hour showdown with Sakkari. With the win, former world No. 1 Pliskova breaks her win-loss record for the season to over 0.500 (13-12).

Pliskova hadn’t faced a Top 10 player this year before this match, but she fought her way to victory against world No. 4 Sakkari. Despite the long gap since her last game against a player in the top echelon, Pliskova has now won her last four games against Top 5 opposition.

Pliskova didn’t serve at 5-4 in the second set, nor did Sakkari convert two set points at 6-5. Pliskova caught three match points in the second set tiebreaker, but Sakkari held off that trio and she converted her fourth set point to level the clash.

Pliskova regrouped and took a 5-1 lead in the third set, but she lost serve in that match despite her fourth match point. Pliskova had to save one last break point at 5-3 before finally converting her sixth match point to book a place in the quarter-finals.

(12) Belinda Bencic beats. (8) Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-3

Belinda Bencic in action Thursday night at the National Bank Open.

Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Last year’s Olympic gold medalist Bencic advanced to the quarter-finals with a 63-minute victory over former world number one Muguruza. Bencic improved to 2-1 over two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza with the win.

Bencic saved all four break points she faced and converted all four break points she held against Muguruza. Bencic won 27 of her 32 first-serve points in the game, supporting her second-round win over Serena Williams.

Bencic will be Beatriz Haddad Maia’s quarter-final opponent, after Haddad Maia’s upset against top seed Iga Swiatek. Bencic beat Haddad Maia in Sydney earlier this year. Moreover, nine years ago, Bencic beat Haddad Maia en route to his 2013 Junior Roland Garros title.

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