Tennis: Bouchard in spotlight as Muguruza withdraws from Montreal

Eugenie Bouchard celebrating after defeating Lucie Safarova at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal, Quebe, on July 26, 2016.
Eugenie Bouchard celebrating after defeating Lucie Safarova at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal, Quebe, on July 26, 2016.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

MONTREAL (AFP) - Home-grown hero Eugenie Bouchard reached the second round of the WTA Rogers Cup hard-court tennis tournament in Montreal with a dramatic three-set victory on Tuesday, lending a little star-power as the event lost French Open champion Garbine Muguruza.

In the past two appearances at her home event, Bouchard had failed to win a match.

But she gave fans what they wanted to see with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3) victory over Czech Lucie Safarova.

Afer dominating the first set, she made a sluggish start to the second and Safarova took advantage to force a third frame.

Bouchard was unable to convert three match points at 6-5 in the third, but after Safarova forced the tie-breaker the Canadian roared back from a 3-1 deficit to seize the victory.

"The crowd was incredible," said Bouchard, who begged off a longer post-match press conference pleading a stomach ache.

That was after Spain's Muguruza, the world No. 3 and third seed, pulled out of her opening match complaining of gastrointestinal illness, minutes before she was to take on Britain's Naomi Broady.

It was another high-profile defection after world No. 1 Serena Williams withdrew with inflammation in her shoulder over the weekend.

"I'm pretty disappointed, I practised a lot for this tournament," Muguruza said.

"Since yesterday, I have kind of been feeling weird and I spoke with the doctor and everything. I thought today I was going to feel better, but in the last moment I didn't feel good enough to go on court and give my best."

Although it was a second-round match, she enjoyed a first-round bye. Organisers filled her place in the draw with lucky loser Varvara Lepchenko of the United States, who defeated Broady 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

In the only other second-round match of the day, fifth-seeded Romanian Simona Halep defeated Australian Daria Gavrilova 6-2, 6-3.

The pair had split their last two meetings.

But Halep, coming off her second title of the season at home in Bucharest, was in control throughout, never facing a break point in the first set and shaking off an early tremor in the second to win in 86 minutes.

"She's a very strong player," Halep, a former French Open champion, said.

"I played her on the clay courts in Rome, she beat me there, and I knew how to play today."

Britain's Johanna Konta, less than 48 hours removed from lifting her first WTA title with an upset of Venus Williams in Stanford on Sunday, reached the second round with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over American Shelby Rogers.

Konta, who moved up from 18th to 14th in the world on the strength of her Stanford run and is now knocking on the door of the top 10.

Only three other British players, Virginia Wade, Sue Barker and Joe Durie, have made the top 10.