TORONTO - Sharon Fichman will be alone flying the Canadian flag at the Rogers Cup on Sunday.
The 20-year-old from Toronto was the only Canuck to advance to the final round of qualifying, defeating Britain's Anne Keothavong 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 in humid conditions at Rexall Centre in Toronto.
Five other Canadian women looking to move a step closer to the main draw failed to advance Saturday, as did the only two qualifier candidates on the men's side in Montreal.
Fichman, who has a chance to boost the number of Canadians in the women's main draw to five, had to battle after a tough first set against Keothavong.
"I wasn't playing my best but I just hung in there and tried to throw her off her game a bit," Fichman said. "I started to play better and her level came down a bit and I stayed solid."
The 187th-ranked Fichman will face Romania's Simona Halep on Sunday with a spot in the main women's draw on the line.
Fichman will be looking to join Rebecca Marino of Vancouver, Stephanie Dubois of Laval, Que., Aleksandra Wozniak of Blainville, Que., and Eugenie Bouchard of Westmount, Que., as part of the Canadian contingent in a women's draw that features the top-20 female players in the world. The main draw starts Monday.
Fichman said playing in front of a hometown crowd was added motivation.
"I have a lot of friends and family that come to watch," she said. "There's nothing like playing on a court and having hundreds of people there to watch and cheer you on.
"It feels great and it makes me more pumped up to do well."
Looking forward to Sunday, Fichman said she doesn't know much about the 55th-ranked Halep.
"Everybody in this tournament is really good so I have the utmost respect for all the girls that are here," she said. "Every girl here hits (the ball) hard, so she probably hits pretty hard. I'm going to be ready for a battle and do what I have to do."
Canadians failing to advance Saturday in women's qualifying included Heidi El Tabakh and Carol Zhao, both of Toronto, Kimberley-Ann Surin of Montreal, Marie-Eve Pelletier of Repentigny, Que., and Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa.
Men's qualifying in Montreal saw Toronto's Steven Diez and Pierre-Ludovic Duclos of St-Foy, Que., ousted in straight sets.
El Tabakh put up a decent fight in women's qualifying before falling 6-0, 4-6, 6-0 to India's Sania Mirza.
The 25-year-old dug herself an early hole, but broke Mirza's serve to take a 4-3 lead in the second set on her way to evening the match.
Despite the loss, El Tabakh echoed Fichman thoughts about playing on home soil.
"It's one of the few times of the year that you really feel the crowd support and it gives you a boost. It kind of helped me throughout the second set," said El Tabakh, who played with a heavily wrapped left leg due to a quad injury. "The crowd plays a big role and the atmosphere is amazing. It's good to know that everyone is there to support you and it gives you that extra boost that you need."
Surin, the daughter of former Canadian track star Bruny Surin, dropped a 6-0, 7-6 (3) decision to Slovenia's Polona Hercog, Zhao fell 6-3, 6-2 to Romania's Monica Niculescu and Dabrowski lost 6-3, 7-6 (4) to Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm.
Pelletier, meanwhile, started well but faded late in losing 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 to France's Virginie Razzano.
In men's qualifying at Montreal's Uniprix Stadium, Diez lost out to Michael Yani of the U.S. by a count of 6-0, 6-3, while Duclos fell 6-4, 7-6 (4) to Australia's Matthew Ebden.
"A match like today, you can take it two ways," an upbeat Diez said afterwards. "You can take it the negative way and try to forget about it or you can take it in a good way and try to learn from it."
The men's draw, which also starts Monday, is missing rising star Milos Raonic of Thornhill, Ont., who is recovering from hip surgery, and includes just two Canadians — Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C., and Erik Chvojka of Kirkland Lake, Ont.
This is the first year the men's and women's draws of the Rogers Cup have been held at the same time.
Dozens of television screens have been set up at both stadiums so that fans can follow the matches at the other venue.
In Toronto, the Rogers Legends Cup has been added to the event and will feature former greats Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Jim Courier and Michael Chang competing in a mini-tournament following the semifinals and final next weekend.
The Rogers Cup is one of nine Masters 1000 events on the ATP World Tour, a step below the Grand Slams. The tournament is also a premier event on the WTA tournament calendar.