TORONTO - While Stephanie Dubois had to battle for every point through most of her first-round Rogers Cup victory, her fellow Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak made it look easy.
Both Quebec-born players advanced Tuesday at the women's tennis tournament, with Dubois fighting to a 7-6 (4), 6-1 win over German qualifier Kathrin Woerle and Wozniak sailing past Israel's Shahar Peer 6-1, 6-0.
Dubois, a wild-card entry from Laval, Que., covered every inch of the court under a burning late-afternoon sun, as she fought hard through the first set before taking control in the second.
"It was a tough first set, she was not giving me a lot of rhythm," said Dubois. "It was tough but I fought well. I got the momentum in the second set and served much better in the second, which made a difference."
Dubois used a vicious backhand slice to break Woerle for a 3-0 lead in the second. Woerle put up resistance when down 4-0, fighting back to deuce several times and causing Dubois to smash her racket against the court surface in frustration before losing the game.
However, Dubois regained her composure to close out the match and book a meeting with fourth-seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
Wozniak, also a wild-card entry at the tournament, never gave the No. 23-ranked Peer any room in their first meeting since 2007 at the Fed Cup.
"I just didn't let her find her rhythm and her game because I was always trying to dictate from the very first ball," said Wozniak. "And each point she couldn't find her rhythm so I tried to stay on her and have it under control."
She will likely face a stiffer test in her second round match against No. 10-seed Samantha Stosur of Australia. The Blainville, Que., native has never made it further than the second round in eight appearances at the Rogers Cup.
"It's always been tough for Canadians to succeed at this Rogers Cup," said Wozniak. "I think it's awesome that at least two Canadians (advanced) to the second round."
Serena Williams, meanwhile, barely broke a sweat in her first-round 6-0, 6-3 victory against Ukraine's Alona Bondarenko.
The winner of 13 Grand Slam tournaments aced her second serve of the match as a foreshadow of more to come (seven in total). The American blasted through the first set in a blinding 16 minutes using her speed and power, as a bewildered Bondarenko scattered across the court helplessly.
Bondarenko put up some fight early in the second, but could do little to contain Williams' imposing serve and forehand.
Williams, who is working her way back from a foot injury that put her out of the WTA's top-100, is using the tournamet as warmup for the U.S. Open. Although she looked dominant in every aspect of the game Tuesday, Williams stopped short of saying she's Slam-ready.
"I would hate to be Grand Slam ready right now, seeing as how the U.S. Open is not right now, so I'll try to peak at the right time," said Williams. "I want to get better on a few things. I definitely want to try and continue to do more and play harder."
Kim Clijsters' status for the U.S. Open is now in question after pulling out during a match late Tuesday night with a stomach muscle problem.
The No. 2-ranked 28-year-old from Belgium withdrew in the second set while leading 6-3, 1-2 against Chinese qualifer Jie Zheng.
"I still have a few weeks till (the U.S. Open) and we'll try to do everything to be ready," said a despondent Clijsters, who won the tournament in 2005.
Earlier, Eugenie Bouchard also made a quick exit in her tournament debut.
The 17-year-old wildcard from Westmount, Que., lost 6-2, 6-2 to 10th-seeded German Andrea Petkovic after a rain delay of almost three-and-a-half hours.
The match was originally scheduled to open morning action on centre court but rain forced the lengthy delay on the second day of the main draw.
Play finally began later in the afternoon at Rexall Centre, with sunshine breaking through early in the match just as Bouchard earned the service break to tie the first set 2-2.
But the 10th-ranked Petkovic showed her class from that point on. After recording a break of her own, Petkovic held serve for a 4-2 lead and never really looked back.
"I've learned a lot from this match, it's good for the future," said Bouchard, who is ranked 351st in the world. "She's 10 in the world, so I know I've played against (a player who is) where I want to go. The level she's at, I'm striving to get there.
"When we had some close games, it was a really tough battle of controlling the point."
Bouchard struggled to put away easy points against the Petkovic, smashing high lobs far too long and hitting angled shots too wide.
Petkovic said her young opponent's loss wasn't due to a lack of skill, but because she just needs more consistent match experience on the WTA tour.
"It's not a matter of strokes or of talent, I think she has it all," Petkovic said. "It's just a matter of playing these kind of matches all the time, every week, every day and I think that's just the difference.
"(Young players) are just not used to playing these matches on these levels all the time."
Petkovic will now make her first second-round appearance in this event when she takes on Hungary's Greta Arn. She was eliminated in the first round last year by Russia's Dinara Safina and failed to make it out of qualifying in 2009.
Petkovic did win a tournament in Strasbourg this year and also reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in January.
"At the beginning of the year my goal was to be top-20, so I've already surpassed my goal," Petkovic said. "I'm going to keep up the intensity and improve. I really hope I can make it to (the top-8) before the end of the year."
Serbia's Ana Ivanovic breezed past Chinese qualifier Shuai Zhang 6-1, 6-1. Ivanovic, the 2006 champion, hasn't advanced past the second round of the tournament since 2007.
In other action Tuesday: Roberta Vinci got past Yanina Wickmayer 6-4, 6-2; China's Shuai Peng eliminated Spain's Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-1, 7-5; Spaniard Anabel Medina Garrigues topped Italy's Sara Errani 7-5, 6-1; Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski won against Jelena Dokic after the Australian retired in the first set; Italy's Flavia Pennetta was a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Russia's Maria Kirilenko; and Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova won 6-3, 6-4 over Argentina's Gisela Dulko.
With the delay in early action, tournament organizers' decision to implement a "virtual combined" format is looking good. For the first time both the men's and women's tournaments are being played simultaneously in the same week, meaning fans at Rexall Centre can watch men's play in Montreal via numerous screens outfitted around the stadium.