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Wozniacki comes out of retirement, wins first-round match in straight sets at National Bank Open

Wozniacki dominated from the start, securing a 6-2, 6-2 victory while pushing her Australian opponent across the court during rallies

Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) hits a forehand against Kimberly Birrell (AUS) (not pictured) during first round play at IGA Stadium.
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) hits a forehand against Kimberly Birrell (AUS) (not pictured) during first round play at IGA Stadium.Eric Bolte (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con)

Caroline Wozniacki made a triumphant return to tennis, defeating Kimberly Birrell in straight sets at the National Bank Open on Tuesday.

Wozniacki dominated from the start, securing a 6-2, 6-2 victory while pushing her Australian opponent across the court during rallies. The Dane will face Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who beat Mayar Sherif of Egypt 6-4, 6-2.

“It’s like riding a bike basically,” Wozniacki told reporters after the match. “You never forget it once you’re in there.”

The former World No. 1 and 2018 Australian Open champion received a wild-card entry into the National Bank Open main draw after retiring in 2020 to start a family.

“It was so strange because I went to bed last night, and I go, ‘wait, so the kids have to wake up, and then we eat breakfast together, and then, wait, how does that fit in with my schedule?’” said Wozniacki of preparing for a match as a mother for the first time.

Victoria Azarenka announced she was withdrawing due to injury, allowing American Sloane Stephens to advance.

Canada’s Leylah Fernandez cruised to a 6-3, 6-2 victory over American qualifier Peyton Stearns in first-round action.

The 20-year-old from Laval, Quebec, barely left the result in doubt, taking control from the beginning and winning the match in 76 minutes.

Fernandez said it was a dream come true to get her first win in her hometown in front of a Centre Court crowd that grew steadily throughout the sunny afternoon at IGA Stadium.

“I’m super happy that I got my first one here in Montreal, it means the world to me,” she said. “The crowd was amazing. I felt their positivity, their emotions.”

Last time out at the National Bank Open in Montreal in 2021, Fernandez lost in the opening round with the number of fans limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the next round, she’ll face No. 11 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil — who beat Fernandez in the second round in Toronto last year.

American qualifier Danielle Collins needed just 72 minutes to eliminate Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in two sets, 6-2, 6-2 in an earlier match.

Collins will next face eighth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece.

Italy’s Camila Giorgi defeated Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ontario, in two sets, 6-3, 6-2, in a battle of two former National Bank Open champions.

The Italian qualifier, who won the tournament last time in Montreal, broke Andreescu once in the first set and fended off five breakpoints.

Giorgi then hit winner after winner in the second set, breaking Andreescu twice early to take a 4-0 lead. Though Andreescu fought back to win two games and save two match points, Giorgi held serve the rest of the way.

Giorgi takes on No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the next round.

No. 3 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazhakstan played American Jennifer Brady in second-round action.

American Madison Keys, who beat Venus Williams on Monday, withdrew from the tournament. Italy’s Jasmine Paolini advances to the third round as a result.

In women’s doubles play, Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski and partner Erin Routliffe of New Zealand defeated Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and Donna Vekic of Croatia 3-6, 6-4, 10-8 to advance to the Round of 16.

Montreal’s Eugenie Bouchard and Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino lost 6-7 (6), 6-4, 10-8 to No. 6 seeds Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and Lyudmyla Kichenok of Ukraine.

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