Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka reached the Wuhan Open final once more with an excellent straight-sets win over world number one Ashleigh Barty on Friday.

Sabalenka improved to 11-0 in Wuhan after her success last year by earning a clinical 7-5 6-4 victory, clinched with a glorious backhand winner from out wide.

"I'm so excited to be in the final, especially here," said the Belarusian, who will play Petra Kvitova or Alison Riske. "It doesn't matter who is going to be there, I'll be there for a fight."

It was a disappointing outing for Barty, who has reached a final and two semis in Wuhan without winning, and she will hope there are no lasting issues after struggling with discomfort in her left calf in the second set.

Barty dropped serve immediately in the first set but then stuck with her opponent and, in a marathon sixth game, broke back, with Sabalenka unsuccessfully claiming a forehand had gone long when halting a rally on break point.

The Australian dictated play for a time, yet Sabalenka wrestled back control with a hold to love and led again when Barty concluded a sloppy service game with an awful, awry slice.

Sabalenka took her third set point following another tussle at deuce, before withstanding more pressure to keep the second on serve early on.

Barty summoned the trainer for treatment on her calf after five games and, although able to continue, a loose game again proved her undoing, the top seed going long to allow Sabalenka to swiftly serve out the match in style.

Sorana Cirstea crushed Katarina Zavatska in straight sets on Friday to return to the Tashkent Open final, where she will face Alison Van Uytvanck.

The only triumph of Cirstea's 13-year WTA Tour career came in Tashkent in 2008, when she beat Sabine Lisicki, but she will have the opportunity to add another title in the same tournament this week.

Romanian Cirstea was in dominant form against 19-year-old Zavatska, winning the first nine games on the way to a 6-0 6-3 victory.

No player has taken the title twice in Tashkent and Cirstea can expect a tough test from third seed Van Uytvanck.

The Belgian has never lost a WTA final, winning all three she has contested, and got the better of 2016 Tashkent champion Kristyna Pliskova 6-3 7-5.

Andy Murray has acknowledged he struggled with the physical demands of his match against Alex De Minaur at the Zhuhai Open.

Former world number one Murray, who overcame a gruelling first-round clash with Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday, suffered a 4-6 6-2 6-4 defeat to 20-year-old Australian De Minaur in the second round on Thursday.

Murray looked in sharp form in the first set, yet De Minaur started to get the better of him in set two, coming out on top in some thrilling rallies.

The Scot squandered three break points as he attempted to revive his challenge, but De Minaur triumphed with a second match point, with Murray subsequently conceding he struggled with the intensity of the play.

"Physically, I was struggling," said Murray, who underwent hip surgery in January. "My level dropped off a little bit and he capitalised on that.

"My body held up well after two pretty long matches but the rest of my body is just tired. I wasn't able to sustain it for long enough."

Quoted by BBC Sport, he added: "I played one or two good points, but then I was trying to finish the points a little bit early and shot selection goes down when you're tired."

Murray's focus will switch to Beijing and next week's China Open, while the 32-year-old will also take part in the Shanghai Masters as he continues his singles comeback.

Andy Murray's Zhuhai Open campaign was halted in the second round as he slipped to a 6-4 2-6 4-6 defeat against a dogged Alex De Minaur.

Murray, who edged past Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday, looked in good shape when he broke twice on his way to claiming the first set, but De Minaur recovered.

The 20-year-old Australian came out on top in some riveting rallies, with a sublime drop shot in set three a highlight as Murray's lack of match sharpness handed De Minaur the edge.

De Minaur had squandered two break points at the start of the third set, though he made no such mistake to take a 5-4 lead eight games later.

Former world number one Murray kept his chances alive with some exquisite shots, only to waste three break-back points.

Having then failed to take a first match point, De Minaur made his second one count – Murray's return into the net ending a contest lasting two hours and 42 minutes as the Australian progressed to a quarter-final with Borna Coric.

Murray will turn his focus to the China Open in Beijing as the British player continues his singles comeback following hip surgery.

Greek top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas retired due to illness prior to the third set of his encounter with France's Adrian Mannarino.

Damir Dzumhur will face Mannarino in the last eight, while second seed Roberto Bautista Agut goes up against Andreas Seppi, who saved five match points in a deciding-set tie-break en route to beating Zhizhen Zhan 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 7-6 (10-8).

Meanwhile, Chengdu Open top seed John Isner fell at his first hurdle as the American succumbed 6-7 (11-13) 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) to Egor Gerasimov of Belarus.

Gerasimov – who will next play Denis Shapovalov – was joined in the last eight by US Open semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov, who marked his return to action with a 7-5 7-5 victory over Britain's Dan Evans.

Canadian second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime went down 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 to Portugal's Joao Sousa, Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Frenchman Benoit Paire, while Chile's Cristian Garin dispatched Fernando Verdasco of Spain.

Ashleigh Barty overcame a stern challenge from Petra Martic to reach the semi-finals of the Wuhan Open for the third year in a row.

The world number one was made to work hard for her 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 6-3 victory, which set up a last-four clash with reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka.

Fellow seed Petra Kvitova enjoyed more serene progress in her straight-sets win over Dayana Yastremska.

But there was a shock in store for the third-ranked Elina Svitolina, who lost to Alison Riske in a surprisingly one-sided encounter.

BARTY BATTLES THROUGH

French Open champion Barty showed her grit to secure a semi-final spot at this tournament once again.

Martic made life tough for the Australian and even shrugged off the disappointment of a first-set tie-break loss to win the second set.

It was in that set that Martic produced some of her best tennis, the Croatian tallying just four unforced errors in a demonstration of clean hitting.

However, when it came to the decider it was Barty who upped her level, dictating rallies with a potent mixture of power and precision.

She will face Sabalenka after the Belarusian also needed three sets to get past Elena Rybakina, triumphing 6-3 1-6 6-1.

SVITOLINA OUSTED BY INSPIRED RISKE

The second semi-final will see two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova take on Riske, when she might have been expecting to meet Svitolina.

Riske made an early statement of intent by winning the first set 6-1 and she wrapped up the match after taking the second 6-3 to leave Svitolina stunned.

It was the American's coolness under pressure that made the difference, Riske fending off four of the five break points she faced to down a player ranked 32 places above her.

Kvitova was similarly dominant in her 6-2 6-4 victory over Yastremska.

Nick Kyrgios has pledged to keep his emotions under wraps after he received a suspended fine and ban from the ATP Tour.

The 24-year-old caused controversy at the Western & Southern Open in August when he hurled abuse at umpire Fergus Murphy in a defeat to Karen Khachanov, while he also smashed two rackets during an unpermitted bathroom break.

Kyrgios was initially fined $113,000, but an investigation from the ATP deemed the Australian had "committed aggravated behaviour" and was also guilty of a "pattern of behaviour" when it came to verbally abusing officials or spectators.

A $25,000 fine and 16-week ban from the Tour were handed to Kyrgios on Thursday, though both are deferred for six months, with the world number 27 placed on probation and under orders to avoid any code violations that result in a fine for verbal or physical abuse, unsportsmanlike conduct or visible obscenities.

Taking to his official Instagram account, Kyrgios told his fans to stay relaxed, while promising to be "on my best behaviour" to avoid triggering the sanctions, though insisting he will not take any of the fun out of his playing style.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Guess I’m on my best behaviour for 6 months #detention

A post shared by NK (@k1ngkyrg1os) on 

"Everyone, I can still play, I'm just on probation, relax," Kyrgios wrote in a post shared on his Instagram story.

"I'll be playing and tennis will still be fun, it's ok, I just have to keep a lid on my behaviour, that's all."

Kyrgios then followed up his first post with a picture of him in action, captioned "good boy vibes", as he took the punishment in his stride.

Earlier on Thursday, Kyrgios confirmed he was pulling out of the Asian swing with a collarbone injury, though he could return in November for the Davis Cup finals.

Kristyna Pliskova made serene progress into the Tashkent Open semi-finals as the 2016 champion beat top seed Viktoria Kuzmova in straight sets.

Fifth seed Pliskova broke in Kuzmova's first service game en route to a 3-0 lead and won five successive games in the second set, eventually converting match point at the third time of asking to clinch a 6-3 6-4 success.

Pliskova, whose only previous singles title on the tour came at this event in 2016, now faces Alison Van Uytvanck in the semi-finals after the Belgian breezed past Pauline Parmentier 6-2 6-4.

Sorana Cirstea outlasted Danka Kovinic 7-5 5-7 6-1 in just under two and a half hours and her next opponent is Katarina Zavatska, who only dropped two games in ousting Anna Kalinskaya.

Nick Kyrgios has been hit with a $25,000 fine and 16-week ban from the ATP Tour - both of which are suspended - following his antics at the Western & Southern in August.

The Australian was initially fined $113,000 having hurled abuse at umpire Fergus Murphy in his loss to Karen Khachanov in Cincinnati, while he also smashed two rackets during a bathroom break he had not been given permission to take.

That triggered an investigation from the ATP and the governing body found Kyrgios "committed aggravated behaviour" and was guilty of a "pattern of behaviour" when it came to verbally abusing officials or spectators.

Kyrgios' latest fine and suspension have both been deferred for a period of six months, provided there are no further code violations that result in a fine for verbal or physical abuse, unsportsmanlike conduct or visible obscenities.

He has the right to lodge an appeal against the decision within the next five working days.

The controversial world number 27 was previously handed bans and fines in 2015 and 2016, and the ATP has ordered he must receive support from a mental coach at Tour events as well as "a professional specialising in behavioural management" after the season ends.

In a separate investigation, Kyrgios received no additional penalties for comments at the US Open – when he called the ATP "corrupt" – having backtracked on those views in a social media post the following day.

Earlier in the day, Kyrgios confirmed he was pulling out of the Asian swing with a collarbone injury, though he could return in November for the Davis Cup finals.

Nick Kyrgios has pulled out of the Asian swing of the ATP Tour with a collarbone injury as he looks to recover in time for the Davis Cup finals in November.

The 24-year-old explained a problem he suffered at the Laver Cup had worsened to the point where he was returning home to Australia.

Kyrgios, ranked 23rd in the Race to London standings, is unlikely to qualify for the season-ending ATP Finals so may have played his final singles tournament in a year where he has won titles in Acapulco and Washington.

However, he said this week he hopes to recover in time to represent Australia at the Davis Cup finals in November, when Australia face Belgium and Colombia.

"Unfortunately a collarbone injury I sustained during [the] Laver Cup has escalated and has forced me to pull out of the Asian swing, I'll be heading back to Australia to rest, see you all soon," Kyrgios wrote on Instagram.

Kyrgios suffered a first-round exit against Andreas Seppi at the Zhuhai Open on Wednesday, delivering an underarm serve at one point - a successful tactic he has used in the past - due to the discomfort in his shoulder.

There will be no blockbuster semi-final between world number one Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep at the Wuhan Open after the Wimbledon champion retired from her third-round match with Elena Rybakina.

Halep had been on a collision course with French Open champion Barty in the last four having been placed in the same half of the draw.

However, Halep's tournament came to an end on Wednesday as a back injury forced her retirement when trailing 5-4 in the first set to Rybakina, who will next face defending champion Aryna Sabalenka.

Barty came through in relatively comfortable fashion against Sofia Kenin, but there was a shock in the other half of the draw as Dayana Yastremska knocked out Karolina Pliskova, who can now not claim top spot in the rankings at the end of the week.

BARTY BREEZES THROUGH

A tougher test may have been expected against one of the rising stars of the WTA Tour in Kenin, but Barty needed only an hour and 26 minutes to dispatch the 15th seed 6-3 7-5.

The Australian had been a break down in the second set and saved a pair of set points, avoiding a decider to complete a third win in four meetings with Kenin this season.

Assessing her performance, Barty said: "I can sit here and pick my game apart and be super critical, but I also have to be able to take away the really good stuff, the good times that we've been able to get out of these matches - particularly the last 20-odd points today. I felt like I got on a real run there."

Petra Martic awaits Barty in the quarter-finals after seeing off Veronika Kudermetova in straight sets.


SABALENKA ROARS TO FIRST WIN OVER BERTENS

Sabalenka had never previously beaten Kiki Bertens in four attempts before their meeting in Wuhan, and she appeared in danger of throwing away a commanding position as she let slip a 5-1 second-set lead.

The Belarusian spurned four match points but recovered her composure to save a Bertens set point and win the decisive tie-break. 

Her 6-1 7-6 (11-9) success means Sabalenka has won 15 straight sets in Wuhan, rediscovering her enjoyment of competition after travelling to the recent Zhengzhou Open without coach Dmitry Tursunov.

"The tiger is back," she said. "I'm just playing freely, not afraid of anything and just going for shots. Every time before the match I can't wait to go out and to play, and I'm so happy to feel this again."


YASTREMSKA CLAIMS FIRST TOP 10 SCALP

Teenager Yastremska has enjoyed an excellent 2019, winning titles in Hua Hin and Strasbourg while reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon and the third round at the Australian Open and US Open.

She added to an increasingly impressive resume by stunning second seed Pliskova to claim the first top-10 win of her fledgling career.

The 19-year-old needed only 64 minutes to surge to a 6-1 6-4 win. Yastremska did not drop serve and hit 26 winners to just 15 unforced errors to put Pliskova's hopes of displacing Barty on hold.

Yastremska will face Petra Kvitova for a place in the semi-finals after the two-time champion overcame Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-3. The other quarter-final will see Elina Svitolina take on Alison Riske after their wins over Svetlana Kuznetsova and Wang Qiang respectively.

Nick Kyrgios suggested his season might be over after a first-round exit at the Zhuhai Open.

Italian Andreas Seppi came from 4-1 down in the first set against Kyrgios, who failed to convert three set points at 5-3, before closing out a 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 triumph.

The Australian threw in an underarm serve during the first set and cited shoulder discomfort as a factor in his collapse.

"I was battling with a bit of a shoulder/collar bone injury," he said, as quoted by the Herald Sun. "At this rate, I'm not thinking about playing until the front of my shoulder feels better."

Kyrgios reported the joint had been "clicking" during the Seppi match and, when asked whether he might sit out the rest of the season, he replied: "For sure, I mean at this rate I wouldn't be surprised.

"I wasn't able to even serve at a reasonable pace. I'm probably not going to bother playing until I can get it right again."

France's Lucas Pouille was another seed to depart as he had no answer to a supreme serving display from Soonwoo Kwon.

Kwon only lost six of 41 points on his first serve and won 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to set up a meeting against fellow qualifier Damir Dzumhur.

Eighth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas came through a sound examination against Miomir Kecmanovic, saving four set points in the opener before prevailing 7-6 (7-2) 6-3

Serbian Kecmanovic served at 40-0 with the first set 5-4 in his favour but could not shake off his Spanish opponent, who next meets Gail Monfils - a 5-7 6-3 6-4 winner in an entertaining encounter with Britain's Cameron Norrie.

At the Chengdu Open, Denis Shapovalov served 16 aces and saved all nine break points he afforded Ricardas Berankis in a 6-4 6-3 victory.

Canadian Shapovalov's prowess on serve was rivalled by Alexander Bublik's 25 aces in a 4-6 7-5 7-5 win against the sixth seed Taylor Fritz, where he won 83 per cent of his first-serve points.

Jordan Thompson is up next for Bublik after outlasting Vasek Pospisil 6-3 3-6 7-5 in a match clocking in at two hours and 29 minutes, while Portugal's Joao Sousa set up a meeting with second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime despite a rocky start versus wildcard Hyeon Chung.

Chung stormed to the first set in only his second tour match since a back injury in February but subsided 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Danka Kovinic ended Margarita Gasparyan's Tashkent Open defence with a straight sets victory on Wednesday.

Stefanie Voegele took the number two seed the distance in Tuesday's first round and Gasparyan was unable to regroup in time to see off Montenegro's Kovinic in the last 16.

The world number 120 prevailed 7-5 6-4 and will face Sorana Cirstea in the quarter-finals after the number eight seed came from a set down to beat Ysaline Bonaventure 3-6 6-3 7-5.

Russia's Anna Kalinskaya was another player to claim a comeback victory, seeing off sixth seed Tatjana Maria 3-6 7-5 6-2, to set up a last-eight showdown with Ukraine's Katarina Zavatska – a straight-sets winner over Tereza Martincova.

Top seed Viktoria Kuzmova beat Greet Minnen despite dropping their opener 7-5. A gruelling tiebreak in the decider saw Slovakia's world number 56 through 5-7 6-3 7-6 (7).

Continuing a theme, Timea Babos took the first set 6-2 against France's Pauline Parmentier but subsided to a 2-6 6-4 6-3 loss.

Kristyna Pliskova overcame Katarzyna Kawa 7-5 3-6 6-4 to secure her spot as Kuzmova's next opponent.

Alison van Uytvanck brought some Belgian cheer amid the losses for Minnen and Bonaventure by breezing past Monica Niculescu 6-2 6-1. She takes on Parmentier next.

Simona Halep revealed a back injury led to her retirement against Elena Rybakina in the Wuhan Open third round on Wednesday.

The Romanian world number six was trailing the wildcard 5-4 when she retired at the WTA Premier event.

Halep, who suffered a back injury late last year, said she felt pain during the ninth game of the match.

"It's a lower back [injury]. I think it's more muscle, but I don't know yet because I didn't check it properly," she told reporters, via the WTA.

"[At] 4-4, 0-30, with the backhand. I had a sharp pain.

"I don't know yet [if it's the same as the previous injury]. It looks a little bit different but it's still the same zone."

Halep has enjoyed a fine 2019 season, including winning the Wimbledon title in July.

Novak Djokovic believes he has a "good chance" of playing at the Japan Open Tennis Championships after recovering from a shoulder injury.

The world number one retired from his fourth-round clash against Stan Wawrinka at the US Open at the start of the month due to the injury.

But Djokovic has returned to training and believes he will be fit to take his place at the ATP 500 tournament in Tokyo starting on Monday.

"Yesterday I trained for the first time after America and there was no shoulder pain which is an encouraging circumstance," the Serbian told Sportski zurnal on Tuesday.

"For now it seems like I have a good chance of playing Tokyo. That's my intention. The next two days will be crucial to assessing shoulder recovery."

Djokovic has points to defend in Asia after winning the Shanghai Masters last year.

The 16-time grand slam champion said he would "almost certainly" play in Shanghai if he missed Tokyo.

"Tokyo and Shanghai first. My team and I believe that in the past two to three weeks we have put the shoulder in the position of being able to withstand multiple tournaments in a row," Djokovic said.

"Tokyo and Shanghai are both goals and purposes but everything is still in God's hands, the whole scenario.

"I don't know what it will be but everything is working great for now."

Andy Murray considered his Zhuhai Open victory over Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday "one of the best wins" of his career.

The former world number one had not won a singles match on the ATP Tour since the Brisbane International in January, announcing his intention to retire and having hip resurfacing surgery in the intervening months.

However, after a successful operation, Murray has been able to return to action, first on the doubles circuit before making his singles comeback in Cincinnati in August.

Not until Tuesday had Murray tasted victory though - and he ranked the gruelling 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-1 triumph highly, despite his many achievements on court.

"I think that, in some ways, it's one of the best wins I've had," he said. "Not in terms of just getting through that today, but everything that's gone into getting back to this point.

"You don't necessarily appreciate what it's like to be healthy at the beginning of your career. It's something that you take for granted and it's quite easy, whereas these past few years haven't been.

"Obviously, after the operation in January, it's been difficult and it was undecided at times about whether I wanted to keep going or not, and it's been tough.

"But I'm really glad that I can actually get the win today and hopefully I'll be able to keep going."

Murray was also able to provide a positive update on his fitness following the match, adding: "If I played that match in January, there's no chance I could compete the following day or even two days later. I would be in a lot of pain and discomfort.

"Now, I'm tired and fatigued and muscles and stuff are tired from playing the match. But in terms of how my hip feels, that feels really good.

"So that's very positive and I'm satisfied with that because, in January, I couldn't remember what it was like to play tennis and not have the pain in my hip."

Murray will face seventh seed Alex de Minaur next for a place in the quarter-finals.

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