Ashleigh Barty is one win away from returning to the top of the WTA rankings after world number one Naomi Osaka retired in the Western & Southern Open quarter-finals.

Osaka only herself reclaimed top spot by reaching the last eight at the Rogers Cup, but defeat to Sofia Kenin at the same stage in Cincinnati would open the door for Barty.

And the Japanese star, having battled back after losing the first set, taking the second 6-1, was forced to retire at the WTA Premier event on Friday.

Osaka had required treatment to a knee injury and finally retired after being broken early in the third set.

Barty will now unseat Osaka if she advances to the final, having reached the last four with a stunning comeback victory over Maria Sakkari 5-7 6-2 6-0.

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova's own hopes of reaching the summit – a possibility if Barty also fell by the wayside – ended as she crashed out to Svetlana Kuznetsova in another three-set contest.

 

BARTY FOCUSED ON TOURNAMENT SUCCESS

The ranking might be on the line for Barty, but she is happy to set that aside and focus on going as far as possible in Cincinnati.

"I'm just keeping my eye on the ball and, if I win matches, the ranking will take care of itself," she said after her win.

"We're excited to be in new territory here in Cincy."

Kuznetsova awaits the Australian and French Open champion.

 

OSAKA WORRIED AFTER BOWING OUT

It was not a good day for reigning US Open champion Osaka.

Osaka retired with a leg injury against Kenin, handing Barty the chance to return to the WTA summit.

It also means Osaka is under an injury cloud ahead of the US Open at Flushing Meadows, where she stunned Serena Williams last year.

"It sucks, especially since I didn't want to get injured this close to the Open," Osaka said. "And now I'm kind of worried a little bit.

"She was playing well. I had to really think about what I had to do during the match, so I'm not that mad at the result. The injured part sucks, but losing, it's not that big of a deal."

 

KUZNETSOVA WINS THRILLER AGAINST PLISKOVA

Two-time grand slam champion Kuznetsova outlasted third seed Pliskova 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 to reach the final four.

Kuznetsova was down a set with Pliskova serving for the match but the Russian rallied thanks to 30 winners and six aces in the gruelling two hour, 23-minute clash.

Meanwhile, Madison Keys vanquished seven-time major champion Venus Williams 6-2 6-3 to set up a semi-final with fellow American Kenin.

Madison Keys ended Simona Halep's chances of reaching another Western & Southern Open final, while Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty battled through.

A three-time runner-up in Cincinnati, Halep was edged by Keys at the WTA Premier event on Thursday.

The Romanian became the first top-four seed to fall, with Barty, Osaka and Karolina Pliskova booking their spots in the quarter-finals.

 

KEYS EDGES HALEP IN THRILLER

Keys, the American 16th seed, served 10 aces on her way to a 6-1 3-6 7-5 victory over fourth seed Halep in the third round.

Halep came from 3-0 down in the final set and saved a match point in the 10th game, but Keys broke again to claim her win.

Having lost finals in Cincinnati in 2015, 2017 and 2018, Halep fell short of reaching another decider.

Keys will face Venus Williams after the American veteran beat Donna Vekic 2-6 6-3 6-3.

 

BARTY, OSAKA MOVE THROUGH

Barty was pushed before getting past Anett Kontaveit 4-6 7-5 7-5 in two hours, 10 minutes.

The Australian found herself 5-3 down in the final set before winning four straight games to advance.

Barty will meet Maria Sakkari, who upset Belarusian ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4.

Osaka was also forced to three sets by Hsieh Su-wei before claiming a 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-2 victory.

Awaiting the Japanese star in the last eight is Sofia Kenin, who beat Elina Svitolina for the second time in as many tournaments with a 6-3 7-6 (7-3) victory.

 

PLISKOVA, KUZNETSOVA PROGRESS

Pliskova, the 2016 champion, is yet to drop a set and was too good for qualifier Rebecca Peterson 7-5 6-4.

The Czech will meet Svetlana Kuznetsova after the 34-year-old wildcard crushed Sloane Stephens 6-1 6-2.

Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep battled into the last 16 at the Western & Southern Open, while Ashleigh Barty crushed Maria Sharapova.

Osaka is back at world number one and the Japanese star moved through her second-round match at the WTA Premier event in Cincinnati on Wednesday.

Like Osaka, Halep – a three-time runner-up – was tested, while Barty needed less than 90 minutes to thrash Sharapova.

 

OSAKA, HALEP PUSHED TO THREE

Osaka needed more than two hours to overcome Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6 (7-3) 2-6 6-2 in the second round.

She had won her previous three meetings with the Belarusian in straight sets, but was pushed at the hard-court tournament.

Osaka will next face Hsieh Su-wei, who got past qualifier Jennifer Brady 7-6 (11-9) 6-3.

Halep, a finalist at the event in 2015, 2017 and 2018, came from a set and a break down to beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6 7-5 6-4.

The Romanian will meet Madison Keys, who eased past Daria Kasatkina 6-4 6-1.

 

BARTY BRUSHES PAST SHARAPOVA

A surprise last-32 loser at the Rogers Cup, Barty dominated Sharapova in a 6-4 6-1 victory.

The Australian broke serve four times during her 40th win of the season while continuing Sharapova's rough 2019.

Sharapova, a five-time grand slam champion, holds just an 8-6 win-loss record in 2019.

Barty will meet Anett Kontaveit, who was too good for Polish teenager Iga Swiatek 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

 

PLISKOVA, SVITOLINA THROUGH ON GOOD DAY FOR SEEDS

Champion in 2016, Karolina Pliskova was untroubled by Wang Yafan, winning 6-1 6-3.

Meanwhile, Aryna Sabalenka, the ninth seed, cruised past Zheng Saisai 6-4 6-3.

Elina Svitolina will face Sofia Kenin after their 6-4 6-1 wins over Elise Mertens and Zarina Diyas respectively, while Sloane Stephens and Donna Vekic – who beat Victoria Azarenka – progressed along with Svetlana Kuznetsova and Rebecca Peterson.

Serena Williams withdrew from the Western & Southern Open ahead of her opening match due to the back injury she suffered in Toronto.

Williams, 37, was due to face Zarina Diyas in Cincinnati on Tuesday, but pulled out as the American great continues to struggle with her back.

The 23-time grand slam champion retired during the Rogers Cup final against Bianca Andreescu on Sunday due to back spasms.

"I came to Mason on Sunday and have tried everything to be ready to play tonight, and was still hopeful after my practice this morning," two-time champion Williams said, via the tournament's Twitter account.

"But unfortunately my back is still not right."

Williams' withdrawal is a concern with the US Open less than two weeks away and the veteran still aiming to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles.

Jessica Pegula, the Citi Open champion, has taken Williams' place and will face Diyas, who knocked her out in qualifying.

Coco Gauff will have the opportunity to build on her sensational Wimbledon run after being handed a wildcard at the US Open.

The 15-year-old lit up the All England Club with a run to the fourth round, beating Venus Williams before losing to eventual champion Simona Halep.

There are limits to the number of tournaments Gauff can enter due to her age, yet she has been granted a spot at Flushing Meadows.

Gauff last year won the girls' doubles at the US Open alongside Caty McNally, who has also been given a wildcard.

The teenage duo linked up again to win the women's doubles at Citi Open earlier this month.

McNally reached the main draw at Wimbledon, too, and is joined by two other 17-year-old American wildcards in Whitney Osuigwe and Katie Volynets.

Samantha Stosur, the 2011 US Open champion, has also been invited this year.

Bianca Andreescu's Rogers Cup victory over Serena Williams means the Canadian has now won her first seven career matches against top-10 opponents.

Williams was in tears after she was forced to retire early with an upper back injury during Sunday's final in Toronto.

Teenager Andreescu was 3-1 and a break up in the first set when Williams declared she could not continue, and the 23-time grand slam champion now faces a race to be fit in time for the US Open.

Williams' misfortune meant Andreescu became the first home winner of the WTA Premier tournament since Faye Urban in 1969, and though the triumph came under mitigating circumstances, it has also extended an extraordinary run for the Canadian.

Since beating then world number one Caroline Wozniacki in her first match against a top-10 opponent in Auckland in December, Andreescu has won all six of her encounters with the WTA's leading singles players.

Andreescu beat Elina Svitolina and Angelique Kerber on her way to winning her first singles title at Indian Wells in March, before defeating the 2018 Wimbledon champion again two weeks later in Miami.

After a shoulder injury forced her to miss the French Open, Andreescu picked up where she left off in Toronto, beating world number five Kiki Bertens in the round of 16 and world number three Karolina Pliskova en route to the final.

With the US Open just around the corner, Andreescu looks well placed to make her mark in a grand slam at Flushing Meadows.

Serena Williams hopes the back injury that saw her retire during the Rogers Cup final disappears after a "small window".

The American great was 3-1 down to Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu in Sunday's decider in Toronto when she retired due to back spasms.

Williams, 37, was in tears on court, but revealed the spasms usually lasted less than two days.

"That's the most frustrating part. I've had this before and it's like 24-36 hours where I'm just in crazy spasm and then it's like gone," the 23-time grand slam champion told a news conference.

"That's a little frustrating for me because I know that I can play, I just can't play today.

"So, I don't know, I'm just taking it a day at a time and see, usually what happens is it continues like that with just that small window and see if I improve after that small window."

Williams enjoyed a fine run in Toronto, improving her win-loss record this year to 19-5.

The veteran said she initially felt her back during a tough three-set win over Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova in the semi-finals on Saturday.

"It started yesterday in my match and it just got worse," Williams said.

"My whole back just completely spasmed and to a point where I couldn't sleep and I couldn't really move and so I was just trying to figure out how do you play a match where you have no rotation?"

Serena Williams was in tears as she retired early in the Rogers Cup final due to an upper back injury, handing unseeded teenager Bianca Andreescu the title in her homeland.

Williams, attempting to claim her first WTA Tour title since returning from maternity leave, was a break down at 3-1 in the first set in Toronto on Sunday when she declared she was unable to continue.

The 23-time grand slam singles champion sobbed as she was embraced by the 19-year-old Andreescu, after succumbing to an injury setback just a fortnight before the US Open gets under way.

Andreescu becomes the first home winner of the WTA Premier tournament since Faye Urban beat Vicki Berner in an all-Canadian final 50 years ago.

Powerful Ontario native Andreescu will rise to 14th in the world on Monday, replacing Amanda Anisimova as the highest-ranked teenager in the women's game.

The gifted youngster claimed her maiden WTA singles title at Indian Wells in March and will be one to watch in the final grand slam of the year at Flushing Meadows next month.

In the post-match presentation, Williams said: "Oh my gosh. Thank you, guys. I'm sorry I can't do it today, I tried but I just couldn't do it. Bianca, you are a great sportswoman. Thanks to my team.

"It's been a tough year, but we'll keep going."

Williams has now featured in four finals since giving birth to her first child in September 2017, failing to win any of them.

Andreescu spent a spell on the sidelines after pulling out of the French Open due to a shoulder injury and expressed sympathy for her iconic opponent, who is 18 years her senior.

"Serena, you made me cry a bunch over there," said Andreescu. "I know what it's like to pull out of tournaments and be injured. But you're truly a champion, I've watched you play so many times. You are truly a champion on and off the court.

"I'm speechless right now. I'm the first Canadian to make the final and win this tournament since 1969. This week has not been easy, I've had many many tough matches, and especially what I've been through the last two months hasn't been easy. I kept telling myself never give up."

Serena Williams survived a scare before getting past Marie Bouzkova in the Rogers Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

The American great made another slow start at the WTA Premier event, but again recovered to reach the final courtesy of a 1-6 6-3 6-3 victory over Czech qualifier Bouzkova.

Williams moved into her 96th WTA Tour final and fifth at the Rogers Cup, where she is a three-time champion and will face Bianca Andreescu in the decider in Toronto.

But the 23-time grand slam winner looked in trouble early, dropping her first set of the tournament against the 21-year-old Bouzkova.

Williams committed 18 unforced errors in the first set, a backhand into the bottom of the net seeing her drop the opener.

Needing a response, Williams broke in the seventh game of the second set, crushing a forehand return winner on her way to winning the final four games of the set.

Bouzkova threatened to land the first blow of the decider, but Williams saved three break points in the third game.

That would prove to be crucial as she broke in the following game, taking a 3-1 lead she would not relinquish.

Andreescu awaits in the final after the 19-year-old Canadian overcame Sofia Kenin 6-4 7-6 (7-5) in the day's earlier semi.

She became the first Canadian to reach the women's singles final at the modern Rogers Cup and first since 1969, when the event was called the Canadian Open.

Naomi Osaka was offered a dose of reality after her winning start against Serena Williams was ended, but the Japanese claimed defeat meant she "accomplished [her] dream".

Two-time grand slam champion Osaka will return to the world number one ranking next week, yet she crashed out of the Rogers Cup on Friday in a 6-3 6-4 defeat to Williams.

The all-time WTA great is an icon for Osaka; however, the 21-year-old had won their only two prior meetings - including an incredible US Open final in which Williams repeatedly ranted at the officials.

Humbled this week in Toronto, Osaka acknowledged this loss belatedly provided the experience she had always anticipated when facing Williams.

"For me, it's always fun to play her," she told a news conference. "This is someone that I looked up to forever.

"And, actually, this is how I thought the first time I played her in Miami was going to go.

"So in a weird way, losing today, I accomplished my dream. I know that sounds kind of weird, but if there's anyone in the world that I would want to lose to - of course I would never want to lose - I don't mind losing to her, because I learned a lot.

"And this is someone that I kind of modelled my game after when I was little. So this is such a big learning experience for me."

Osaka said Williams played "amazing, which is what she does", and the victor agreed her level had improved from the pair of 2018 defeats.

"I knew [Osaka's] game a little bit more, so that's a little easier," Williams said. "And I'm just overall a little bit better. You know, last year was a miraculous year for me, to be honest.

"So I know her game. I watch her a lot. I knew what I needed to do to hopefully try to get a win today, and it helped a little bit."

As Williams advances to face Marie Bouzkova, Osaka will work to defend her restored ranking more successfully than last time.

Osaka's form fell off a cliff after taking number one with the Australian Open title and she later conceded the pressure had been tough to handle.

She explained on Friday: "I guess I'm excited. But also, at the same time, I feel like that's a position that I think requires a lot of work and a lot of just hardheadedness.

"I can't really let what other people say affect me, and I just have to keep working hard and putting effort. I think that the results, of course, will show, but I have to not think too much about winning or losing."

Serena Williams is the last seed standing at the Rogers Cup as defending champion Simona Halep made a quarter-final exit on Friday.

Williams was in impressive form as she powered past Naomi Osaka in their first meeting since last year's controversial US Open final.

The American great is the only seed into the last four, with Halep's title defence coming to an end at the WTA Premier tournament.

 

WILLIAMS WONDERFUL AGAINST OSAKA

Williams has apologised for her meltdown at Flushing Meadows last year and the 23-time grand slam champion produced a brilliant display against Osaka.

Osaka had won her previous two matches against Williams in straight sets, but the 37-year-old secured a 6-3 6-4 victory over the Japanese star on Friday.

Williams may have been expecting to face Halep in a rematch of their Wimbledon final, but the Romanian bowed out against Marie Bouzkova.

The Czech qualifier continued her run, winning the first set 6-4 when Halep retired injured.

PLISKOVA, SVITOLINA STUNNED

Karolina Pliskova also exited in the quarter-finals, suffering a 6-0 2-6 6-4 loss to Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

That result meant Osaka, who later lost to Williams, will replace Ashleigh Barty atop the world rankings.

Andreescu will face Sofia Kenin after the American upset Ukrainian sixth seed Elina Svitolina 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

At 37, Williams is by far the oldest player left in the draw, with the others – Bouzkova (21), Andreescu (19) and Kenin (20) all under 22.

Serena Williams produced a brilliant display to claim a straight-sets win over Naomi Osaka in the Rogers Cup quarter-finals on Friday.

In the first meeting between the stars since last year's controversial US Open final, Williams was in impressive form, recording a 6-3 6-4 victory in Toronto.

Williams' meltdown at Flushing Meadows during the decider in 2018 overshadowed what was Osaka's first grand slam success.

The 23-time grand slam champion has since apologised and, in their first meeting since, Williams delivered an impeccable performance at the WTA Premier tournament.

Impacted by slow starts this week, Williams made a better opening to her clash with Japanese star Osaka, who had to dig out of a hole at 2-3.

However, Osaka – playing more tentatively in windy conditions – sent a forehand long to give Williams, a three-time winner of the tournament, a break in the eighth game.

Williams took the set with a big serve and then broke again in the third game of the second set as Osaka, who will return to top spot in the rankings, struggled to find answers.

The American had lost her previous two meetings with Osaka, but managed to close out what was an impressive victory.

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will go head-to-head for the first time since the controversial 2018 US Open decider after the pair reached the Rogers Cup quarter-finals.

Osaka prevailed against childhood hero Williams last year at Flushing Meadows, where the 23-time grand slam champion's epic meltdown contributed to her defeat.

Williams was issued a code violation for what umpire Carlos Ramos deemed to be coaching from Patrick Mouratoglou, irritating the former world number one who insisted she was not a cheat.

A point penalty for racquet abuse led to her branding Ramos a "liar" and a "thief" and she was then docked a game, after which she called for the match referee and alleged she was being treated differently to male players.

Osaka's maiden major was overshadowed by Williams' behaviour. Now, the two players are set for a rematch in Toronto.

 

SERENA SURVIVES ALEXANDROVA TEST

The 37-year-old American star was pushed by Ekaterina Alexandrova in a 7-5 6-4 victory on Thursday.

Williams trailed the Russian qualifier 3-0 in the first and 3-1 in the second, however, the eighth seed produced when it mattered most to advance at the WTA Premier event.

A three-time champion, Williams – playing for the first time since Wimbledon – said: "I definitely feel like it takes a while to get back into the rhythm, because we've had a long season of just clay and then grass, and now we're on hard courts. So it definitely feels different, especially for me now. Usually I don't feel that huge of a difference, but for whatever reason I do this year."

 

OSAKA ON TRACK TO RECLAIM TOP RANKING

Australian Open champion and second seed Osaka overcame teenager Iga Swiatek 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the last 16.

Osaka rallied from a break and two set points down to eventually prevail against the Polish 18-year-old.

The Japanese star is on track to return to the WTA's summit on Monday ahead of Karolina Pliskova, who must beat Bianca Andreescu to have any chance of claiming the top ranking.

Pliskova accounted for Anett Kontaveit 6-3 7-5, while Andreescu outlasted Kiki Bertens 6-1 6-7 (7-9) 6-4.

 

HALEP'S TITLE DEFENCE ALIVE

Defending champion Simona Halep eased past Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 6-1 in just 67 minutes.

Halep – the fourth seed – was a class above as she reached the Rogers Cup quarters for the fifth time.

Next up for Halep is qualifier Marie Bouzkova, who stunned former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-2.

Sixth seed Elina Svitolina and Sofia Kenin also moved through to the last eight.

Former world number one Serena Williams battled past Ekaterina Alexandrova to book her spot in the Rogers Cup quarter-finals.

Williams – the eighth seed – was far from her fluid best but saw off her Russian opponent 7-5 6-4 in Toronto on Thursday.

A three-time champion of the WTA Premier event, Williams will face either second seed Naomi Osaka or teenager Iga Swiatek in the last eight.

Williams has made slow starts throughout her campaign in Canada this week and the 23-time grand slam winner continued that theme against Alexandrova.

The 37-year-old found herself trailing 3-0 in the first set, a netted forehand in the opening game setting the tone as she was broken twice.

However, Williams reeled off four successive games and won seven of nine to gain momentum against Alexandrova, who fended off three set points at 4-5.

Williams eventually closed out the set thanks to a double fault – Alexandrova's eighth – but just as the American star threatened to go on a roll, she was halted.

The veteran started the second set just like she did in the first, dropping serve and to love after sending a forehand wide in the opening game before falling 3-1 behind.

Alexandrova was a menace throughout, saving three match points but the 24-year-old was unable to prevent Williams – who was willing herself on – from advancing to the quarters.

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka eased into the last 16 at the Rogers Cup, while Simona Halep survived a scare on Wednesday.

Williams, a three-time champion at the WTA Premier event, was in good form in her first appearance since Wimbledon, beating Elise Mertens in the second round.

Osaka moved a step closer to reclaiming the number one ranking, while Halep edged through.

 

SUPER SERENA, OSAKA CLOSE TO TOP

Williams, the eighth seed, came from a break down in each set to get past Mertens 6-3 6-3.

The American 23-time grand slam champion was in decent form against Mertens, who troubled Williams at different times.

Meanwhile, Ashleigh Barty will lose the top ranking after Osaka booked her spot in the third round.

Osaka took the first set over Tatjana Maria 6-2 before the German qualifier retired.

It means the Japanese star or Karolina Pliskova will replace Barty, who lost on Tuesday, atop the world rankings.

HALEP SURVIVES SCARE

Halep, the defending champion, moved through but only just, edging Jennifer Brady.

The Romanian fourth seed and Wimbledon champion overcame the qualifier 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7-5) after almost two and a half hours.

It was a good day for the seeds – Pliskova and Elina Svitolina advancing with the likes of Belinda Bencic and Anett Kontaveit.

Pliskova's bid to return to the top of the rankings is alive after a 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 victory over qualifier Alison Riske.

Svitolina, meanwhile, battled past Katerina Siniakova 6-3 3-6 6-3.

 

WOE FOR WOZNIACKI

The only seed to depart was Wozniacki, who fell to 18-year-old qualifier Iga Swiatek 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Wozniacki, the 2010 champion and 2017 runner-up, led 3-0 in the final set before losing six of the final seven games to the Polish teenager.

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