TORONTO – Bianca Andreescu overcame a hurting groin to become the first Canadian women to make the semifinal of the Rogers Cup since 1979.
Andreescu, from nearby Mississauga, Ont., defeated third-seeded Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic 6-0, 2-6, 6-4 in a dramatic match on Friday afternoon.
Andreescu, 19, is playing in her first tournament since the French Open in May. An injured right shoulder has forced her to miss months of competition.
It was Andreescu’s fourth consecutive three-set match, giving her by far the most time on the hard courts of Aviva Centre on York University’s campus.
All that play time after a lengthy layoff took its toll on Andreescu, who needed a medical timeout in the second set for treatment on her groin.
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Andreescu will face American Sofia Kenin in a semifinal of the WTA event on Saturday.
Windy conditions at Aviva Centre seemed to benefit Andreescu as Pliskova had to reset her toss on several serves in the first half. Pliskova’s adjusted timing on her serve led to four double faults in the set.
With Pliskova’s greatest strength neutralized, Andreescu dominated all facets of the game in the first set.
Andreescu’s clinical facade cracked only twice in the first set, pumping her fist when she took a 4-0 lead and again when she won the set with a forehand smash.
Pliskova won her first game of the match to open the second set as Andreescu’s return was just out.
As Pliskova held a 5-1 lead in the second set and held a 40-30 advantage in the sixth game, Andreescu asked the chair umpire for a trainer. She still won the next three points to make it 5-2, even as she favoured her groin.
In the next stoppage of play, Andreescu and a trainer went to the locker room for more in-depth treatment. Andreescu caught the eye of her parents in the stands and pointed at her groin as she made her way off the court.
She came jogging back out with a wrap around her right leg and tape on her left inner thigh.
Andreescu continued to stretch and walk gingerly during stoppages in play, with Pliskova taking advantage and winning the second set 6-2.
In two lengthy games to start the third set, Andreescu continued to struggle with obvious pain in her legs, grimacing after lengthy rallies forced her to sprint all over the court. She battled to a 1-1 tie, but an overhand smash gave Pliskova a 2-1 lead.
Andreescu and Pliskova exchanged games again to make it 3-2 for the Czech player, but the Canadian seemed to have shaken off whatever had been bothering her legs earlier in the match.
Clearly doing better physically, Andreescu screamed as she tied the third set 3-3, but Pliskova fired two aces for the final two points of the seventh game to retake the lead.
Andreescu answered with an ace of her own to tie it up 4-4, then won another game when Pliskova’s return on a break point was well past the baseline.
Pliskova put her return into the net on match point, sending Andreescu on to the semifinals.
Playing to her hometown crowd, Andreescu put her hand to her ear like Hulk Hogan to egg on the cheers after the victory.
Earlier, Kenin upset sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 7-6 (2), 6-4. Kenin also stunned world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the first round of the Rogers Cup.
The 20-year-old Kenin trailed 4-0 in Friday’s opening set but rallied past Svitolina to win then carried that momentum into the second set.
Later Friday, American Serena Williams faced Naomi Osaka of Japan and qualifier Marie Bouzkova, also from the Czech Republic, played Simona Halep of Romania.
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