WTA

Venus' struggles continue, Azarenka eases through

By Sports Desk July 31, 2019

Venus Williams' tough run of form continued with a first-round loss to Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the Silicon Valley Classic, while Victoria Azarenka cruised through.

Williams has won just two matches since the French Open and the American veteran went down to Mattek-Sands 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-1 in a battle of the wildcards at the WTA Premier tournament in San Jose, California on Tuesday.

The seven-time grand slam singles champion had won her previous four matches against Mattek-Sands, but that run came to an end.

Azarenka, meanwhile, is continuing to enjoy a fine season and was untroubled by qualifier Harmony Tan, winning 6-2 6-4.

The two-time Australian Open champion set up a last-16 clash with Donna Vekic, the Croatian fifth seed having overcome Misaki Doi 6-4 3-6 6-4.

Vekic was one of two seeds in action, with Danielle Collins also progressing, getting past Zhang Shuai 6-4 5-7 6-2.

Meanwhile, Zheng Saisai hammered Heather Watson 6-3 6-1 and Madison Brengle breezed past Andrea Petkovic 6-0 6-3.

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    Simona Halep raced through to her second Australian Open semi-final after mercilessly blitzing Anett Kontaveit in straight sets on Wednesday.

    Former world number one Halep dismantled 28th seed Kontaveit 6-1 6-1 in just 53 minutes on Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park.

    A two-time grand slam champion, Halep barely raised a sweat as the fourth seed reeled off 11 consecutive games before the helpless Kontaveit finally halted the slide at 5-0 in the second set, but it was too little too late.

    Halep – the 2018 runner-up – will face either Garbine Muguruza or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in her second Australian Open final.

    Kontaveit was attempting to become the first Estonian to reach a slam semi-final after beating Astra Sharma, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Belinda Bencic and Iga Swiatek en route to the final eight.

    But she was no match for Romanian star Halep, who is yet to drop a set at this year's major in Melbourne.

    A battle from the baseline, Kontaveit held her own early but she was quickly put to the sword as Halep broke in the third game and never looked back.

    Kontaveit, who initially dug herself out of a 0-40 hole in the fifth game as Halep broke at the fifth opportunity, faded quickly without a trace.

    Halep continued where she left off in the second set, racing out to a devastating 5-0 lead in front of a stunned crowd.

    Kontaveit stopped the rot to hold serve, though Halep – who has never dropped a set against the Estonian – served out the second set in just 24 minutes.

     

    STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
    Halep [4] bt Kontaveit [28] 6-1 6-1

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
    Halep – 12/10
    Kontaveit – 15/15

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
    Halep – 5/1
    Kontaveit – 0/0

    BREAK POINTS WON  
    Halep – 5/11
    Kontaveit – 0/1

    FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
    Halep – 78
    Kontaveit – 66

    PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
    Halep – 78/44
    Kontaveit – 48/44

    TOTAL POINTS  
    Halep – 54
    Kontaveit – 34

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    Fifteen-year-old Gauff and Williams, 38, were named in a formidable-looking five-player squad for the qualifying tie against Latvia, which will be played in the city of Everett, near Seattle.

    Gauff is in line to become the second-youngest player to represent the US in the Fed Cup, if she sees action in the two-day tie.

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    The veteran has never lost a Fed Cup singles match, being the holder of a 13-0 record, putting her two wins short of matching Martina Navratilova's career 15-0 mark.

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