Belinda Bencic clinched a debut appearance at the end-of-season WTA Finals, meaning Serena Williams will miss out.

Swiss star Bencic reached as high as seventh in the world rankings during the 2016 season before slumping outside the top 300, with poor form compounded by injury trouble.

But 22-year-old Bencic has returned to the top 10 since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open in September, beating defending champion Naomi Osaka along the way in New York.

A 6-3 6-4 victory over France's Kristina Mladenovic in the semi-finals of the Kremlin Cup on Saturday made sure of Bencic's appearance in the eight-player WTA Finals.

That lucrative event is the last major tournament of the WTA season and takes place in Shenzhen, China, from October 27 to November 3.

Bencic becomes the last player to secure a place, joining Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Elina Svitolina, Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova and Bianca Andreescu.

She nudged ahead of Williams in the Race to Shenzhen to deny the American a place in the elite field for the upcoming tournament that carries prize money of $14million.

Williams has been inactive since the US Open and is unlikely to be perturbed by missing the WTA Finals.

Bencic said in an on-court interview: "I'm so happy I reached the top eight. It was a huge goal for me this season and so last-minute.

"I was so nervous before the match, but also reaching the final here [in Moscow] tomorrow is amazing. I'm so happy."

Andy Murray reached his first ATP Tour singles semi-final for over two years by rolling up his sleeves to overcome Marius Copil in the European Open on Friday.

The three-time grand slam champion's persistence paid off as he battled past Copil with a 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 victory in Antwerp.

Murray squandered a 4-1 lead in a second set he lost after holding the same advantage in a tie-break, with Copil saving a match point. 

The Brit was not to be denied a place in the last four, winning what was his second quarter-final since returning from hip resurfacing surgery after claiming the only break of the final set.

Ugo Humbert stands in the way of Murray and a place in the final after coming from a set down to beat Guido Pella 5-7 6-4 6-4.

Fourth seed Stan Wawrinka outlasted Gilles Simon 6-3 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 and will face Jannik Sinner, who became the youngest ATP semi-finalist since 2014 when he got past Frances Tiafoe 6-4 3-6 6-3.

There will be no back-to-back Kremlin Cup triumphs for Karen Khachanov in his homeland after Andreas Seppi beat the defending champion 3-6 6-3 6-3.

Seppi has reached at least the quarter-finals in his past six appearances in Moscow and will face Adrian Mannarino - a straight-sets winner against Dusan Lajovic - for a place in the final after claiming the scalp of the second seed.

Marin Cilic took out Jeremy Chardy 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-2) and will go up against Andrey Rublev, who saw the back of Nikola Milojevic 6-2 6-3.

There will be no dream swansong for Janko Tipsarevic at the Stockholm Open after Yuichi Sugita ended the Serbian's career with a 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-4) triumph, booking a semi-final showdown with Denis Shapovalov.

Shapovalov eased to a 6-0 6-3 defeat of Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, while Pablo Carreno Busta beat Sam Querrey and will face Filip Krajinovic - conqueror of Yoshihito Nishioka.

Kiki Bertens look set to miss out on the WTA Finals following a Kremlin Cup quarter-final defeat to Kristina Mladenovic, which left the door open for Belinda Bencic to make her Shenzhen debut.

Bertens missed out on a place in the last four in Moscow when she was beaten 6-4 2-6 6-1 by the unseeded Mladenovic.

The second seed will require a withdrawal to feature in the season-ending tournament in China after failing to climb above the eighth-placed Serena Williams in the standings.

Mladenovic mixed up her game with skill and intelligence and faces a semi-final showdown with Bencic next.

Bencic will move ahead of both Bertens and Williams to grab a Shenzhen spot if she records one more win following a 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 result against qualifier Kirsten Flipkens on Friday.

The Swiss third seed, who has never played in the WTA Finals, drew on her fighting spirit to come from 4-1 down in the opening set and edged a tie-break after saving two set points, then dominated the second set.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Karolina Muchova will contest the other semi-final after getting the better of Veronika Kudermetova and Ekaterina Alexandrova respectively.

Meanwhile, defending champion Julia Goerges rallied from a set down to beat Monica Puig 1-6 6-2 6-3 and reach the last four of the Luxembourg Open.

The German will take on Elena Rybakina, a 6-0 6-4 winner against Laura Siegemund, while Jelena Ostapenko and Anna Blinkova will also do battle for a place in the final.

 

 

Andy Murray moved into the quarter-finals by beating Pablo Cuevas after the top three seeds crashed out of the European Open, while Fabio Fognini was dumped out in Stockholm on Thursday.

Murray produced another encouraging performance in Antwerp, reaching the last eight of a singles tournament for the second time since returning to the ATP Tour following a hip resurfacing operation in January.

The former world number one saw off eighth seed Cuevas 6-4 6-3 after saving all four break points he faced, winning 82 per cent of points on his first serve and 74 per cent behind his second.

Murrray started strongly and dominated from the back of the court, finishing Cuevas off with back-to-back aces to ensure he will take on Marius Copil.

Copil ousted Diego Schwartzman 6-4 5-7 7-6 (9-7), while top seed Gael Monfils went down 6-3 6-2 to 18-year-old Italian outsider Jannik Sinner and David Goffin, the second seed, was thumped 6-3 6-1 by Ugo Humbert in his homeland.

Jan-Lennard Struff was another seed to fall in the second round, losing 6-3 6-4 to Frances Tiafoe.

Janko Tipsarevic's retirement will have to wait until another day after he hammered ATP Finals contender Fognini 6-1 6-1 to move into the quarter-finals of the Stockholm Open.

Tipsarevic lost just four points on his first serve and will take on lucky loser Yuichi Sugita, who beat Stefano Travaglia in straight sets.

Fourth seed Denis Shapovalov got the better of Alexei Popyrin 6-4 7-6 (7-3) in the Swedish capital, with Pablo Carreno Busta and Cedrik-Marcel Stebe also victorious.

Marin Cilic beat fellow Croatian Ivo Karlovic 6-1 7-6 (7-5) to book a Kremlin Cup quarter-final showdown with Jeremy Chardy, who came out on top against Miomir Kecmanovic.

Andrey Rublev and lucky loser Nikola Milojevic came through their second-round matches versus Egor Gerasimov and Alen Avidzba respectively in Moscow.

Veronika Kudermetova upset top seed Elina Svitolina in the second round of the Kremlin Cup and Jelena Ostapenko fought back to knock Elise Mertens out of the Luxembourg Open on Thursday.

Kudermetova came out on top in her first match against a top-five opponent, defeating Svitolina 6-1 2-6 7-5 in Moscow.

The 22-year-old Russian wrapped up the opening set in only 28 minutes and came from 2-0 down in the decider to move into the quarter-finals.

Kudermetova's attacking approach paid off, world number four Svitolina showing resolve in the final set but missing out on a last-eight showdown with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Second seed Kiki Bertens advanced with 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory over Kaia Kanepi, while Pavlyuchenkova won an all-Russian contest with Varvara Gracheva 5-7 6-4 6-2.

Kristina Mladenovic will face Bertens after battling her way past sixth seed Anastasija Sevastova 7-5 3-6 6-3.

The top seed also bowed out Luxembourg, with Ostapenko digging deep to see off Mertens 4-6 6-2 6-2.

Ostapenko, runner-up to Coco Gauff at the Linz Open last weekend, will now come up against Antonia Lottner, who went through when Andrea Petkovic retired with a knee injury after losing the first set 6-1.

Defending champion Julie Goerges saw off Sorana Cirstea 4-6 6-4 6-4, while Anna Blinkova and Monica Puig also made it through, defeating Kristyna Pliskova 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (8-6). 

Twenty-time grand slam champion Roger Federer has confirmed he will play the French Open next year.

The 38-year-old returned to Roland Garros in 2019 after a three-year absence, reaching his first major semi-final since the 2018 Australian Open.

Federer, whose lone French Open title came a decade ago, has already confirmed his intention to participate at next year's Olympics and has also now revealed the second major of the year will be part of his schedule for 2020 too.

"I will play the French Open," he told CNN.

"I probably won't play much before that because I need some time away from it.

"I need some time with the family – we need a vacation, we need a break, especially if I'm playing the Olympics.

"I will probably play the French, Halle [Open], Wimbledon, Olympics and then maybe Cincinnati [Masters] and the US Open."

Karen Khachanov thrilled the Moscow crowd as he saved five match points before overcoming veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Kremlin Cup.

The world number eight, top seed and defending champion at the ATP 250 event, found himself 5-3 down in the decider but refused to buckle as Kohlschreiber eyed a notable scalp on his 36th birthday.

Khachanov – now the focus of home hopes after Daniil Medvedev's withdrawal due to fatigue - repelled three match points to force a tie-break and his calmness from the baseline saw him through more trouble to prevail 3-6 6-3 7-6 (9-7).

Andreas Seppi is up next for Khachanov after the experienced Italian similarly came from a set down to beat Roberto Carballes Baena 5-7 6-1 6-3.

Serbian fourth seed Dusan Lajovic also went the distance against Lukas Rosol, coming through 6-4 6-7 (8-6) 6-3 to beat his Czech opponent and set up a quarter-final clash against last year's runner-up Adrian Mannarino – a straight-sets winner over Mikhail Kukushkin.

Stan Wawrinka returned to action at the European Open, competing for the first time since his US Open quarter-final loss, and his troublesome knee was given a thorough workout by Feliciano Lopez.

The two seasoned campaigners provided plenty of entertainment - a sumptuous backhand half-volley at the net in the first set serving as a particular highlight from Wawrinka, who came through 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-4).

The 34-year-old Swiss will take on Gilles Simon in the quarter-finals after the world number 47 came through his all-French clash against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 7-5.

Andy Murray will face Pablo Cuevas in round two after the eighth-seeded Uruguayan beat Hugo Dellien 6-4 6-3, while Guido Pella ensured further South American success by beating Kwon Soon-woo 7-5 7-5 to earn a quarter-final place.

Frances Tiafoe's reward for breaking a three-match losing streak, defeating Yannick Maden, will be a meeting with another German opponent in Jan-Lennard Struff.

At the Stockholm Open, US Open semi-finalist and second seed Grigor Dimitrov was dumped out by Sam Querrey, losing 6-7 (7-9) 6-3 7-6 (7-3). Taylor Fritz was another seed to fall – 7-5 6-4 against Yoshihito Nishioka,

Filip Krajinovic is up next for Nishioka after beating Dan Evans 7-5 2-6 6-3.

Anna Blinkova overcame a fatigued Coco Gauff as the American teenager was unable to back up her Linz triumph at the Luxembourg Open.

Gauff claimed the first WTA title of her fledgling career in Austria last week but was clinically dispatched by Russian Blinkova 6-4 6-0 on Wednesday.

The beaten 15-year-old American complained of feeling tired as she was swept aside in the second set and found Blinkova in uncompromising mood.

World number 66 Blinkova made only five unforced errors and hit 18 winners in her first-round victory.

Defending champion Julia Goerges saw off 2015 winner Misaki Doi in a gruelling three-set battle, the second seed coming back to triumph 5-7 6-1 6-3 to reach round two.

Wednesday brought a more straightforward outing for third seed Elena Rybakina, who breezed past Denisa Allertova 6-2 6-1 to earn a quarter-final place.

Jelena Ostapenko beat Caty McNally in straight sets and will meet top seed Elise Mertens in the last-16, while there were second-round wins for Margarita Gasparyan and Laura Siegemund.

At the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Belinda Bencic pulled off a stunning comeback to beat Polona Hercog 1-6 6-3 6-4 and book a quarter-final place.

As well as being blown away in the opening set, number three seed Bencic found herself 3-0 down in the decider before shifting through the gears to win six of the last seven games.

Bencic will next tackle Kirsten Flipkens, who bested fifth seed Dayana Yastremska 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Ekaterina Alexandrova had too much for fellow Russian Anna Kalinskaya, thrashing her compatriot 6-1 6-1 before their home crowd. Karolina Muchova, who stormed past fourth seed Donna Vekic 6-4 6-2, will be Alexandrova's last-eight opponent.

Daniil Medvedev felt he had no choice but to withdraw from his home tournament in Moscow after a gruelling schedule.

It was announced on Tuesday that world number four Medvedev would not take part in the Kremlin Cup, foregoing the chance to reach a seventh consecutive final on the ATP Tour.

Final number six ended in victory over Alexander Zverev at the Shanghai Masters last Sunday but, after 59 wins on tour this year, the US Open finalist felt taking to the court once again this week would have been a bridge too far.

"Nobody knew that I would do so well in Shanghai to reach my sixth final in a row," Medvedev told ATPTour.com.

"I just feel that I am physically and mentally exhausted. I can't be 100 per cent. As a professional, I cannot step on court knowing that I am not 100 per cent ready to play.

"On the one hand, it is very sad, because I really wanted to play in Moscow in front of my home crowd. I've played for four years in a row in Moscow and each year my results improved.

"But, on the other hand, this is how it is. It is professional sport, and I must do what is best for my body. In this situation, I had no choice."

However, Medvedev was keen to allay fears over his readiness to compete at the season-ending ATP Finals in London next month, and he is slated to return to action at the Vienna Open next Monday.

"I feel amazing and have a great mood," Medvedev added. "I've never dreamed about six finals in a row."

Camila Giorgi bageled Andrea Petkovic in the first set of their first-round match at the Luxembourg Open, but the sixth seed was still eliminated.

Giorgi took just 24 minutes to wrap up the opener and yet Petkovic, a semi-finalist at the Linz Open last week, bounced back, coming from a break down late in the third set to advance.

Fiona Ferro won a solitary game as Monica Puig swatted the seventh seed aside 6-1 6-0, with Alison Van Uytvanck, ranked fourth in Luxembourg, also out having retired in her match against Monica Niculescu when leading 4-2 in the first set.

However, top seed Elise Mertens and third seed Elena Rybakina made it through in straight sets.

Defending champion Daria Kasatkina was knocked out of the Kremlin Cup by fifth seed Dayana Yastremska, the teenager building on a 5-0 lead in the opener to win 6-1 6-4.

Elsewhere, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who won the tournament in 2014, came from behind to oust seventh seed Maria Sakkari in a 5-7 6-1 6-3 triumph.

Andy Murray advanced to the second round at the European Open with a straight-sets win over Kimmer Coppejans.

The former world number one triumphed 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to win a match in two sets for just the second time since August.

He was made to work hard by Coppejans, who broke Murray three times in total, including in his first two service games in the second set, but the Briton eventually prevailed in an hour and 45 minutes.

Seventh seed Jan-Lennard Struff dropped just three games in beating Gregoire Barrere, while Gilles Simon and Feliciano Lopez were among the other players to advance.

At the Kremlin Cup, home hope Andrey Rublev overcame Alexander Bublik 6-1 3-6 6-4.

After taking the opener, Rublev then lost the first five games in a row en route to losing the second set and the sixth seed was a break down in the decider only to rally and progress.

Ivo Karlovic staved off a match point and won a third-set tie-break against Aljaz Bedene to progress, along with Jeremy Chardy and Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Nicolas Jarry and Pierre-Hugues Herbert respectively.

Pablo Carreno Busta was the only seed in action at the Stockholm Open and he defeated John Millman 6-4 6-3, with Sam Querrey among those to also go through.

Two-time champion Svetlana Kuznetsova suffered an early exit at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow on Monday, losing to Karolina Muchova in straight sets.

Home favourite Kuznetsova – who won the WTA Tour tournament in 2015 before returning to successfully defend her title the following year – managed just 13 winners as Muchova triumphed 6-2 6-3 to set up a second-round clash with fourth seed Donna Vekic.

Anastasija Sevastova had no such problems in her opening encounter, easing past Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-1 7-5, while Anna Kalinskaya overcame Anastasia Potapova 6-0 3-6 6-4 via a tense final set that saw the two players combine to produce seven breaks of serve.

Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens are the top seeds for the tournament, though neither are in action during Tuesday's play in Russia.

At the Luxembourg Open, Viktoria Kuzmova rallied from a set down to defeat teenager Katie Volynets 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-1) 6-1.

The sixth seed let slip a 5-2 lead in the second set before eventually prevailing in a tie-break, while she dropped just 10 points in the decider to triumph after two hours, 33 minutes on court.

Margarita Gasparyan, Tatjana Maria and Denisa Allertova also recorded three-set wins in the main draw, the latter coming through via a tense tie-break against Mandy Minella.

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga opened his campaign at the European Open in Antwerp with victory over Lorenzo Sonego.

The 2017 champion and sixth seed - aiming to win his third title of the season - recorded a break of serve in each set to go through 6-3 6-4, with either fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon or Belgian Steve Darcis up next for Tsonga.

Life was far tougher for fifth seed Guido Pella on Monday, however, as he fought back from a set down to beat German Peter Gojowczyk 5-7 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

At the Stockholm Open, Janko Tipsarevic kicked off his final tournament on the ATP Tour in fine style, beating Corentin Moutet 6-2 6-4 in just 73 minutes.

The 35-year-old has announced he will retire after the Davis Cup Finals in November, though his singles career is not finished just yet. Next up for Tipsarevic is the top seed this week in Sweden, Italian Fabio Fognini. 

Dan Evans won 6-4 1-6 6-3 against Bernard Tomic but fellow seed Reilly Opelka was on the wrong end of an upset, losing a three-set battle to Stefano Travaglia 7-5 4-6 6-4.

There was also a surprise in the opening round of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, with Andreas Seppi eliminating fifth seed Cristian Garin 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4). In contrast, Adrian Mannarino, the seventh seed, breezed by qualifier Damir Dzumhur 7-6 (7-2) 6-0.

Roger Federer has confirmed he will play at the 2020 Olympic Games, revealing his "heart decided" to compete again.

The Swiss will be aiming to secure a third medal next year in Tokyo; he struck gold playing alongside Stan Wawrinka in the men's doubles in Beijing in 2008, then collected silver in the singles tournament four years later in London, falling in the final to home favourite Andy Murray.

Federer, 38, also represented his country at the Olympics in 2000, losing out in the bronze-medal match to Arnaud Di Pasquale, and 2004, but missed Rio 2016 while recovering from a knee injury.

The 20-time grand slam champion announced his decision to compete again after an exhibition match against John Isner staged in the host city for next year's Games.

"I've been debating with my team for a few weeks now, months actually, what I should do in the summer time [of 2020] after Wimbledon and before the US Open," he said, according to the Olympic Channel website.

"At the end of the day my heart decided I would love to play the Olympic Games again.

"I carried the flag twice for Switzerland in Athens and Beijing, I've got a gold and a silver, and I would love to play again so I'm very excited."

Federer has won three titles on the ATP Tour this season, while he finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon after reaching the last four at the French Open.

Coco Gauff's first WTA Tour title at the Linz Open means the 15-year-old has the prize money to buy a Halloween costume she hopes will be the best in the sport.

The outstanding teenager, who starred at Wimbledon and the US Open, became the youngest champion on the main tour in 15 years as she defeated Jelena Ostapenko on Sunday.

The victory capped a sensational week for Gauff, who also claimed a landmark first win against a top-10 player when she downed world number eight Kiki Bertens in the quarter-finals.

Despite a fast-moving week, which started with the American entering the tournament as a lucky loser, Gauff has already made plans for her reported winnings of $43,000.

"I know Halloween is coming up and it's one of my favourite times of year," she said. "So I guess I'll splurge a little bit on my costume and make sure it's right.

"[The costume is] a secret, because I know last year they had a WTA contest for the best costumes, and I came in third. This year my goal is to come in first!"

Gauff drew huge crowds as she made grand slam breakthroughs at the All England Club and then at Flushing Meadows, yet she revealed she had not expected to be in contention for titles at the start of the season.

"I'm still overwhelmed and shocked," she said. "I guess it's crazy to say it's my first WTA title.

"This was definitely not on the calendar at the beginning of the year, because I didn't think I'd have a chance to get in. And now I'm the champion, so it's crazy."

Gauff is the first player this season to win on the tour as a lucky loser and added: "It's just literally insane that I got in as a lucky loser and now I'm the champion.

"My dad told me when I got in, before the first main-draw match, he said, 'You can't lose twice in the same tournament!'

"I'm sure he never thought it would come this far, to being the champion, but I guess he was right."

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