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.

Serena Williams powered past Elise Mertens in the second round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto on Wednesday.

The 23-time grand slam champion recovered from a break down in both sets to claim a 6-3 6-3 victory over Mertens midweek.

In action for the first time since her loss in the Wimbledon final, Williams – a three-time champion of the WTA Premier event – was tested.

The eighth seed was broken early in each set but rallied to claim a strong win over Mertens in the first meeting between the pair.

Williams fell 3-1 behind in the first set before reeling off five consecutive games to take the opener.

She was then broken in the second game of the second set before responding, Mertens unable to hold in the fifth game despite initially recovering from 0-40 down.

That would give Williams complete control as she moved into a last-16 clash against Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Ashleigh Barty and Sloane Stephens bowed out of the Rogers Cup on a day of upsets in Toronto on Tuesday.

World number one Barty and last year's runner-up Stephens were two of five seeds to fall at the WTA Premier tournament in Canada.

While that pair departed in the second round, Madison Keys, Aryna Sabalenka and Anastasija Sevastova were first-round losers.

 

BARTY, STEPHENS BOW OUT

In action for the first time since Wimbledon, Barty suffered a shock 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-4 loss to American Sofia Kenin.

The Australian is now at risk of losing her top ranking, with Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova having the chance to return to number one.

The only way Barty will remain number one is if Osaka loses her opening match and Pliskova fails to reach the semi-finals.

Runner-up last year, Stephens went down to qualifier Marie Bouzkova 6-2 7-5 for her third straight loss.

SEEDS SLIP UP

Keys almost got through her opener, but eventually lost to Donna Vekic 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) after squandering three match points.

The American, runner-up in 2016, served for the match at 5-4 in the second set, only to give up a 40-0 lead before bowing out.

Sabalenka was also edged, going down to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 3-6 6-3 7-5.

Sevastova, the 10th seed, was beaten by China's Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7-5) 6-2, with Kiki Bertens the only seed to progress.

Bertens thrashed qualifier Francesca Di Lorenzo 6-2 6-1 in just over an hour.

 

AZARENKA POWERS THROUGH, VENUS DEPARTS

Victoria Azarenka booked her spot in the second round thanks to a 6-2 6-2 victory over Camila Giorgi.

The 2014 runner-up Venus Williams, meanwhile, was well beaten by Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 6-2.

In an all-Canadian clash, Bianca Andreescu got the better of wildcard Eugenie Bouchard 4-6 6-1 6-4.

Former world number one Maria Sharapova lost a three-set epic against Anett Kontaveit in the first round of the WTA Rogers Cup.

Sharapova – a five-time grand slam champion – was eliminated following a two hour, 41-minute thriller in Toronto on Monday.

Former Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki moved through to the second round, while Serena Williams will open her campaign against Elise Mertens.

 

SHARAPOVA STUNNED IN TORONTO

The 2009 runner-up saw victory slip through her grasp, beaten 4-6 6-3 6-4 by Kontaveit.

Sharapova was up a set a break before 16th seed Kontaveit prevailed in a tense three-setter, which lasted almost three hours.

Playing for the first time since retiring from her first-round match at Wimbledon, Sharapova – seeking just her fourth victory since January due to injury problems – was unable to stop the Estonian.

"I put a lot of work in to get to this stage, so I think to finish off this match is good," Sharapova said. "Definitely not the result I would have liked, but overall feeling pretty good about it."

It will not get any easier for Kontaveit, who is set to play the winner of Venus Williams and Carla Suarez Navarro.

 

WOZNIACKI MAKES WINNING START

Former champion Wozniacki accounted for Yulia Putintseva 6-4 6-2 on day one.

The 2010 winner in Montreal, Wozniacki trailed 4-2 after dropping serve in the opening game before reeling off four straight games to take out the set.

Wozniacki then won four games in a row from 2-2 in the second set as the 15th seed awaits either Iga Swiatek or Ajla Tomljanovic in the next round.

"I'm just happy with the win today and that I'm through to the next round," said Wozniacki, who was also runner-up in 2017.

 

MERTENS SETS UP SERENA SHOWDOWN

Williams awaits in the second round after Belgian Mertens outlasted Aliaksandra Sasnovich 3-6 6-3 6-1.

Former world number one and eighth seed Williams is a three-time winner of the event, having last triumphed in 2013.

Sofia Kenin set up a clash with world number one and top seed Ashleigh Barty with a 6-4 6-3 win over Hsieh Su-wei, while defending champion Simona Halep is next up for Jennifer Brady – who saw off Kristina Mladenovic 6-1 6-2.

Former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko triumphed but three-time major champion Angelique Kerber – the 12th seed – was shocked by Daria Kasatkina 0-6 6-2 6-4.

Serena Williams is playing pain free as she gears up to compete in the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

The American will take to the court for the first time since losing the final of Wimbledon to Simona Halep in comprehensive fashion last month.

Williams, a 23-time grand slam winner, has struggled with a knee injury for most of 2018 but is now fighting fit ahead of her tilt for a fourth triumph at the tournament.

"Yes, I'm feeling good, my knee is better, much better since a little bit before Wimbledon," she said. 

"I think now that is better I feel like I can start doing a lot better.

"I don't know if I had to change my game, I just had to come back - more than anything after becoming a mum I was already playing professionally in six months which is pretty fast. 

"I had to just get back into the swing of things and had to get back just being able to be a parent and split my time being a professional athlete."

Williams has reached three slam finals since becoming a mother for the first time but has lost on each occasion.

As she reaches the twilight of her career, Williams vowed to continue grasping the opportunities that come her way.

"I love my job and I love what I do and I say this all the time that I feel really blessed and fortunate to have my career and my job and it's fun," she added. 

"It's fun to be part of an elite group of people that can go out and just play; just two people in front of an amazing crowd. 

"It's not for much incredibly longer I'm going to do that and to be able to do that, there's just not many people that can do it. And so I'm just really proud to be part of that."

Zheng Saisai claimed her maiden WTA Tour title with an upset win over Aryna Sabalenka in the Silicon Valley Classic final on Sunday.

The 25-year-old from China recorded a 6-3 7-6 (7-3) victory over second seed Sabalenka in the decider of the WTA Premier event in San Jose, California.

Zheng, a runner-up in the women's doubles at the French Open this year, was ruthless on her way to a first WTA crown.

She converted all five of her break points as Sabalenka managed to take just three of her seven opportunities.

Zheng had lost her only previous WTA final – in Nanchang last year – but is now set to rise back into the world's top 40.

Sabalenka, meanwhile, now holds a 3-4 win-loss record in WTA deciders, her run of three consecutive victories in finals coming to an end.

Jessica Pegula outclassed Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-2 to win a first WTA Tour title at the Citi Open.

The unseeded American was in fine form on a stuffy day in Washington, saving the only break point she faced in the entire match against Giorgi.

Pegula had earned a comeback win over Iga Swiatek and ousted Anna Kalinskaya in a three-set semi-final win.

On this occasion, it took just 59 minutes for Pegula, whose parents own Buffalo franchises the Bills and the Sabres, to secure the home triumph.

Pegula - who was joined on court by her pet dog during the trophy presentation - now holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Giorgi and goes one better than her losing effort in the Quebec final last year.

Patricia Maria Tig came from behind to beat favourite Alison van Uytvanck 3-6 6-1 6-2 in the final of the Karlsruhe Open.

World number 65 Van Uytvanck - who beat her partner Greet Minnen in the first round - had been expected to lift the title in the inaugural edition of the clay court tournament in Germany.

But Tig, ranked 223, fought back from a set down on Sunday.

Van Uytvanck broke serve three times as she nosed ahead, but Tig - who only dropped one set throughout the entire tournament - responded with three breaks of her own to restore parity.

And, after breaking once more to make it 4-2 in set three, 25-year-old Tig got the better of Van Uytvanck's serve to claim her first WTA title with two match points to spare.

Aryna Sabalenka reached the WTA Silicon Valley Classic final after easing past Donna Vekic on Saturday.

Belarusian Sabalenka – the second seed – was too good for Vekic, winning the semi-final 6-4 6-3 in San Jose.

Sabalenka and fifth seed Vekic traded breaks in the opening set but the former broke in the 10th game to close it out on her opponent's serve.

Vekic fended off a match point at 5-3 in the second set but it only delayed the inevitable as Sabalenka served it out in the next game.

Sabalenka – a three-time winner on the WTA Tour – will face Zheng Saisai in Sunday's decider.

Zheng stunned seventh seed and last year's runner-up Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 to advance to the final of the WTA Premier event.

After upstaging seeds Danielle Collins and Amanda Anisimova en route to the semis, Zheng continued her fine run as she eyes her maiden WTA crown.

Camila Giorgi booked her spot in the WTA Citi Open final after overcoming American wildcard Caty McNally in straight sets on Saturday.

Italian Giorgi moved through to her seventh WTA final courtesy of a 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 victory in Washington.

McNally had impressed in the American capital this week, 17-year-old upstaging fourth seed Hsieh Su-wei in the quarter-final for her first career top-50 win.

However, McNally was no match for Giorgi – who hit three aces and was only broken once throughout the straight-sets triumph.

Standing in the way of Giorgi and a third WTA crown is Jessica Pegula after the unseeded American outlasted Anna Kalinskaya 6-3 1-6 6-1.

While McNally failed to make it through to the singles showpiece, she teamed up with teenage sensation Coco Gauff to claim the doubles title.

Gauff announced herself on the WTA Tour at Wimbledon, where the 15-year-old stunned Venus Williams en route to the fourth round.

The American prodigy and McNally united for glory on Saturday, with the unseeded pair shocking fourth seeds Maria Sanchez and Fanny Stollar 6-2 6-2.

Elina Svitolina was stunned by a Maria Sakkari comeback in the Silicon Valley Classic quarter-finals, while Aryna Sabalenka moved through on Friday.

Sakkari upset top seed Svitolina 1-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 at the WTA Premier event, saving four match points in San Jose.

The Greek seventh seed was trailing 5-2 in the second set before rallying for an incredible victory.

Sakkari will next face Zheng Saisai, who upset 17-year-old fourth seed Amanda Anisimova 5-7 7-5 6-4.

Zheng converted nine of 11 break points, including three from three in the final set, to battle through in two hours, 52 minutes.

Sabalenka and Donna Vekic, the second and fifth seeds respectively, moved into a semi-final clash.

While Vekic was too strong for qualifier Kristie Ahn 7-5 6-0, Sabalenka edged sixth seed Carla Suarez Navarro 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Camila Giorgi charged into the Citi Open semi-finals as Hsieh Su-wei became the final seed to fall on Friday.

Giorgi has put together a fine run in Washington and the Italian brushed past Zarina Diyas 6-3 6-2 in their quarter-final at the WTA International event.

The 27-year-old is into her first semi-final of the year after needing just 72 minutes to dispose of Diyas.

Awaiting Giorgi in the last four is American wildcard Caty McNally, who upset fourth seed Hsieh.

Hsieh, the last seed standing at the tournament, was well beaten by the 17-year-old, who claimed a 6-4 6-3 victory.

The other semi-final will be between qualifier Anna Kalinskaya and Jessica Pegula.

Kalinskaya overcame Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 4-6 6-2 and Pegula edged Lauren Davis 6-2 7-6 (7-2).

Petra Kvitova has withdrawn from next week's Rogers Cup in Toronto as she continues to battle a left forearm injury.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova was forced to withdraw from this year's French Open after a grade two muscle tear in her arm was discovered.

The Czech said she had overcome the issue ahead of Wimbledon, where she reached the last 16 before losing to Johanna Konta in three sets.

However, Kvitova has not played since and will now miss the Rogers Cup.

In a tweet on Friday, she wrote: "I'm so disappointed to have to withdraw from @rogerscup.

"My forearm injury is continuing to cause problems so, on the advice of my medical team, I won't make the trip to Canada.

"I will really miss being in Toronto this year and wish the tournament every success."

Victoria Azarenka was beaten by Donna Vekic at the Silicon Valley Classic, while two seeds made second-round exits on Thursday.

Azarenka went down to fifth seed Vekic 6-4 6-3 at the WTA Premier event played on hard-courts in San Jose, California.

Both players created eight break-point opportunities, but Vekic made the most of hers, converting five compared to Azarenka's three.

The Croatian moved into the quarter-finals, where qualifier Kristie Ahn awaits.

Ahn caused an upset with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Belgian third seed Elise Mertens.

Another seed, Danielle Collins, was also resoundingly beaten, suffering a 6-2 6-0 loss to Zheng Saisai.

Zheng will meet Amanda Anisimova after the 17-year-old fourth seed cruised past Madison Brengle 6-2 6-2.

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