Jewish tennis players Madison Brengle and Camila Giorgi each scored upset wins over higher-ranked players in the opening round of the recent Rogers Cup women’s pro tournament at Uniprix Stadium in Montreal.
American Brengle of Dover, Del., ranked 51st prior to the Rogers Cup, defeated 29th-ranked Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 in a match interrupted by many rain delays in the opening round.
“I lost focus in the second set, but regrouped in the final set to stay close and win the big points,” said Brengle, 26, following her upset win.
In the second round, Brengle lost to fellow American, 12th seeded Madison Keys 6-4, 6-3, but her victory over Makarova raised Brengle’s ranking to No. 50.
“I obviously wanted to go further, but I am happy to upset a higher-ranked opponent,” said Brengle.
Giorgi, who is Italian, emerged victorious in her opening round match, but unlike Brengle, Giorgi had to win twice in qualifying, because her ranking at No. 77 kept her out of the main draw.
Giorgi rose to the challenge in qualifying, winning two matches by identical scores of 6-3, 6-1 over Gabriela Dabrowski of Ottawa in her first qualifying match and American Betthanie Mattek-Sands in the second.
Giorgi played her best tennis at the Rogers Cup in the opening round of the main draw by upsetting 23rd-ranked American Sloane Stephens 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) in two tie-break sets.
“I was especially happy about the win over Stephens because I played tough, aggressive tennis at the crucial points of the match,” said Giorgi, 25.
In the second round, Giorgi lost to fellow Italian, seventh seeded Roberta Vinci, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.
“I had my chances against Roberta, but she came back in the second set and I could not stop her,” said Giorgi.
Giorgi’s three wins at the Rogers Cup raised her ranking from No. 77 to No. 68.
Both Brengle and Giorgi are known as fierce competitors who fight for every point, making few mental errors.
“Madison is one of the exceptional American players today because of her ability to think through with a strategy to win and not hurt herself with unforced errors. I am not surprised that her rankings remain in the top 50 for the past two years,” said former tennis great Tracy Austin, who worked as a Sportsnet television commentator at the Rogers Cup.
Brengle began to learn tennis at age three, and she has been taught by her mother, Gaby, since she was five. As a junior, Brengle won her first title at age 15 in Baltimore.
She continued her success in junior tennis by finishing as a finalist in the 2007 Australian Open junior girls division.
But her success in the pro circuit did not come easily.
Although Brengle won seven minor league titles in the International Tennis Federation circuit, her rankings never were above 140.
Her fortunes and rise in tennis started in 2014 when she defeated Julia Glushko of Israel in the first round of the U.S. Open to break into the top 100, and her rankings have been climbing steadily over the past two years.
At the 2015 Australian Open, Brengle defeated 13th-ranked Andrea Petkovic of Germany en route to a fourth round finish at the Grand Slam tournament.
She continued her rise by finishing as a finalist in Hobart, Australia, as well as upsetting No. 4-ranked Petra Kvitova of Czechoslovakia to finish as a semi-finalist at the Stuttgart, Germany tournament.
Brengle had her highest ranking at No. 35 in April 2015.
“I am more confident and steady and believe that I can compete at a high level with any of the top pros. I look forward to continue my rise in tennis,” Brengle said.
She is currently the highest-ranking Jewish player on the women’s pro circuit. Although her father is not Jewish, she was raised Jewish by her mother, Gaby.
Giorgi’s rankings have dropped considerably from last year, when she was ranked 27th. To her credit, Giorgi has scored big wins over former top ten players Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki and has played Fed Cup for Italy since 2014.
Giorgi was touted to play Fed Cup for Israel in 2012, but ultimately decided to play the nations cup tournament for Italy.
Giorgi feels inspired by reading her favourite book The Diary Of Anne Frank.
“The story of Anne Frank always moved me, especially because I am Jewish. Given her courage and wisdom, I am reminded of the positive in life,” said Giorgi.
Glushko, the top-ranked player from Israel, had to play two qualifying round matches at the Rogers Cup. Ranked No. 132, she defeated Maria Patrascu of Toronto 5-2, 6-0 before losing to Nao Hibino of Japan, 6-3, 6-3.