Elena Vesnina put in her best performance in quite awhile as she was able to outgun the dangerous Alison Riske in the first round of the Rogers Cup despite it being her first hard court match in months, and looked to have found her best tennis once again. The Russian would now face Ashleigh Barty, who benefitted from Oceane Dodin’s unfortunate retirement due to an illness during their match, in the next round. The BNP Paribas Open champion also won an impressive 88 percent of first service points.
Vesnina overcomes slow start to clinch the first set
Vesnina had an awful start to the match despite serving in the opening game, committing four straight unforced errors on her groundstrokes as she gifted the break of serve to Riske, who earned the early lead. However, she was a little rusty on her serve as she failed to find her first serves consistently enough, allowing the Russian to produce some strong returns and managed to break straight back to return on serve immediately.
The match then witnessed its first service hold as Vesnina prevailed in multiple baseline rallies to comfortably hold her serve to love. Fending off two break points in the process, Riske found her best serves at the most crucial moments as she narrowly held her serve to keep the scores level at 2-2.
It was one-way traffic from then on as Vesnina grew with confidence after each point won, making the next breakthrough in the sixth game as she took the lead for the first time in the match. The Russian then consolidated the break despite losing a 40-0 lead, eventually closing the game out with a wonderful and fabulous drop shot winner, extending her lead to three games and placing her just a game away from winning the first set. Vesnina eventually served out the set comfortably, holding her serve to love as she clinched the first set 6-3 after 39 minutes of play.
Vesnina strolls to claim the victory
After an encouraging start to the second set for Riske, the Russian followed suit as she also managed to hold her serve without any problems. Vesnina then made the first breakthrough of the set as she exploited the second serves of the American to lead by a set and a break, looking on course for a routine victory. However, the 16th seed followed it up with a loose service game, gifting free points as she started to commit several unforced errors which allowed Riske to break straight back and remain in contention to send the match into a deciding set.
Nevertheless, her joy was short-lived as the determined Vesnina relied on some consistent and powerful groundstrokes to claim the third straight break in the set, regaining her lead. This time, she was able to consolidate the break to love as she extended her lead to two games, edging closer to the victory. Riske soon found herself having to serve to stay in the match at 3-5 down, and a couple of unforced errors while facing a tremendous amount of pressure eventually proved costly, allowing Vesnina to take the win after 1 hour and 14 minutes of play.