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.

Reigning champion Caroline Wozniacki opened the defence of her title at the Nature Valley International with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Kirsten Flipkens.

Playing in her first match on grass this season, Dane Wozniacki - who also triumphed at the tournament in 2009 - unsurprisingly looked right at home at Eastbourne.

The 11th seed led 3-0 in the first set and then raced 4-0 up in the second and while Flipkens hit back on each occasion, the Belgian was eventually ousted after one hour and 22 minutes on court.

"I love playing here, it brings back great memories for me," Wozniacki told the WTA Tour's official website. "I was here for the first time when I was 14, so basically half of my life. It's pretty amazing."

Second seed Karolina Pliskova also won in straight sets on Monday, the 2017 champion overcoming Margarita Gasparyan 6-3 6-3.

Marketa Vondrousova, the 13th seed, progressed at the expense of Zheng Saisai, though the 6-2 6-3 score did not do justice to how hard the Czech had to work for the win.

Jelena Ostapenko set up a second-round meeting with seventh seed Sloane Stephens by beating Mihaela Buzarnescu at the tournament for a second straight year.

The 2017 French Open champion, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon 12 months ago, rallied from a break down in both sets against her Romanian opponent, sealing a 91-minute victory by taking the final four games in a row.

There were also wins for Daria Gavrilova, Hsieh Su-wei, Tamara Zidansek, Yulia Putintseva and Ons Jabeur before the rain arrived, cutting short play for the day.

Meanwhile, after rising to the top of the world rankings with victory at the Birmingham Classic on Sunday, Ashleigh Barty withdrew from her final tournament before Wimbledon due to an arm injury.

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty continued her superb form with a straight-sets win over Donna Vekic at the Birmingham Classic.

Fresh from her win at Roland Garros, second seed Barty had little trouble in adapting from clay to grass as she eased through her first-round match 6-3 6-4 on Wednesday.

Barty did have to get through a wobble early on, but soon got into her stride to dispatch Vekic – a beaten finalist at the Nottingham Open.

The 23-year-old Australian conceded four double faults through the first set, but soon recovered thanks to some unforced Vekic errors.

Barty was tested as she looked to close out the win, as Vekic came up with a series of impressive winners to break serve.

But Barty had the win firmly in her sights, and an exceptional double break set up a match point which she duly converted to earn a second-round tie with Jennifer Brady, who won her contest with Lesia Tsurenko 6-3 6-3.

British number one Johanna Konta, however, did not fare as well – the seventh seed dumped out by Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-4 in their second-round clash.

Konta reached the semi-finals in Paris, but 2017 French Open winner Ostapenko was too sharp on the grass court midweek.

Petra Martic will be Ostapenko's opponent in the last eight, where they are joined by Kristyna Pliskova, who beat her twin sister and third seed Karolina 6-2 3-6 7-6 (9-7).

Meanwhile, former world number one Venus Williams enjoyed a winning Birmingham debut as she knocked out Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3 6-4 to reach the second round, where she will take on sixth seed Wang Qiang.

Barbora Strycova beat Hsieh Su-wei 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 in Wednesday's other match.

Jelena Ostapenko suffered defeat to Victoria Azarenka in the first round of the French Open on Tuesday as the Latvian continued her unusual record at Roland Garros.

Ostapenko produced a stunning run in 2017 to win the tournament with a shock victory over Simona Halep in the final.

However, outside of that incredible performance, Roland Garros has brought nothing but misery for Ostapenko, who has not won a main draw match at the French Open in any other year she has appeared.

The world number 39 slumped to a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) defeat to former world number one Azarenka, a defeat that made it three first-round exits in four years - she lost in qualifying in 2015.

Ostapenko said in her post-match media conference: "The opponent for the first round was, I think, one of the toughest in the draw.

"I think I was rushing too much. And also conditions were very tough. It was super windy today."

Azarenka faces a second-round clash with Naomi Osaka after the world number one come through her clash with Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in three sets.

The withdrawal of Serena Williams was accompanied by two high-profile retirements from the women's singles draw at the Internazionali d'Italia on Tuesday, before defending champion Elina Svitolina was eliminated in stunning fashion by Victoria Azarenka.

Either side of Williams pulling out of her scheduled second-round match with sister Venus due to an ongoing left knee problem, Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Ostapenko were each forced to call an early halt to their respective contests in Rome.

Svitolina - seeking a third title in a row in Rome - then blew a 4-1 lead in the third set of a rain-hit duel with Azarenka, as the latter saved a match point and completed an unlikely comeback to triumph 4-6 6-1 7-5.

Wozniacki retired from her clash with Danielle Collins after losing the first set in a tie-break, a calf injury the issue on this occasion after back trouble prevented her from completing a match against Alize Cornet in Madrid last week.

Ostapenko, meanwhile, was a game away from defeat against Mihaela Buzarnescu when she stopped the tie, the Latvian later citing a fever as the reason.

Karolina Pliskova and Ashleigh Barty both progressed to the last 16, but fellow seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Anastasija Sevastova were beaten by Cornet and Belinda Bencic respectively.

 

AZARENKA COMES BACK FROM THE BRINK TO OUST REIGNING CHAMPION

Svitolina is still working her way back from a knee injury and a lack of match sharpness perhaps contributed to her painful defeat at the hands of Azarenka.

Despite being blown away in the second set - which was repeatedly interrupted by rain - after taking the first, the Ukrainian looked likely to progress when she claimed three successive breaks of serve at the start of the decider, either side of being broken once herself.

However, despite enjoying a fourth success on the Azarenka serve, Svitolina was sensationally beaten as her rival reeled off five games in a row from 5-2 down, saving a match point in the first of those.

 

WILLIAMS WOE CONTINUES

After reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open in January, Williams has now failed to finish three tournaments in succession.

A viral illness ended her participation in the Indian Wells Open, while an ongoing issue with her left knee has derailed her campaigns in Miami and Rome.

In a statement on Tuesday, the 23-time grand slam singles champion said she looked forward "to seeing you all at the French Open", but her preparation for Roland Garros has been anything but ideal.

 

OSTAPENKO EXPLAINS LATE RETIREMENT

It is never a great look to retire when you are trailing 6-2 5-4, but Ostapenko - the 2017 French Open champion - took to social media to defend her premature stoppage against Buzarnescu.

"It really sucks when you have to retire from a match at one of your favourite tournaments," she wrote in an Instagram story. 

"Unfortunately, I felt really bad today out there on court and had a fever [of] 38.1 [degrees], so I couldn't continue the match.

"I feel really sad about it, but I will do everything possible to recover as quick as I can."

Petra Kvitova was encouraged by the way she was able to "fight it out" to beat Kristina Mladenovic, while Sloane Stephens knocked Victoria Azarenka out of the Madrid Open on Monday.

Second seed Kvitova - bidding to become the first woman to win a WTA Premier Mandatory tournament four times - had to dig deep for a 6-3 7-6 (7-5) victory on Court Manolo Santana.

Stephens was another leading to contender to advance at the Caja Magica, seeing off Azarenka 6-4 2-6 6-2 to reach the last 16.

Ashleigh Barty was also taken the distance, getting past Danielle Collins 6-1 1-6 6-1 as the Australian eyes back-to-back titles following her Miami Open triumph.

Kiki Bertens overcame Jelena Ostapenko 6-4 6-3, while Anastasija Sevastova, Yulia Putintseva, Viktoria Kuzmova and Belinda Bencic started the week with victories. 

 

 

KVITOVA SHOWS GRIT IN PURSUIT OF HISTORY

Kvitova made 38 unforced errors to 31 winners in an unconvincing performance, but battled to get through in straight sets after coming under pressure from Mladenovic in the second.

The defending champion, on a high after winning the Stuttgart Open, said: "I'm trying to play well on all surfaces which I think is really showing and it was a pretty difficult match,

"I fought hard in the end and that is what is counting. The clay and the conditions here are a bit different compared to other venues, so I always needed time to fight it out."

Sorana Cirstea or Caroline Garcia will be Kvitova's third-round opponent.

 

STEPHENS WINS BATTLE OF MAJOR CHAMPIONS

Stephens stretched her winning streak against Azarenka to four matches, having lost the first three against the two-time major champion. 

The 2017 US Open champion did not face a break point in the first set, but was broken twice in the second.

Stephens pulled away in the decider, winning four games in a row to set up a meeting with Zheng Saisai or Alize Cornet.

 

BARTY WINNING RUN INTO DOUBLE FIGURES

Barty stretched her sequence of victories to 10 matches, but Collins threatened to bring her back down to earth in the Spanish capital.

The ninth seed struck only 18 winners and made just 19 unforced errors in a contest which swung one way, then the other.

Barty will face Putintseva in her third-round match in Madrid after the Kazakh got past Pauline Parmentier, conqueror of Elina Svitolina in the opening round.

Petra Kvitova started her bid to secure a record-breaking Madrid Open title with a straight-sets defeat of Sofia Kenin.

Defending champion Kvitova is striving to be the first woman to win a Premier Mandatory tournament four times and eased into the second round with a 6-1 6-4 win on Saturday.

Up to second in the rankings after winning the Stuttgart Open last weekend, the two-time Wimbledon champion breezed into a 5-0 lead at the Caja Magica and went on to secure a meeting with Barbora Strycova or Kristina Mladenovic.

Kiki Bertens, runner-up last year in the Spanish capital last year, defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-2 in the final match of the day. 

Seeds Aryna Sabalenka and Anett Kontaveit bowed out with defeats to Svetlana Kuznetsova and Aliaksandra Sasnovich respectively on day one, while Ashleigh Barty knocked out fellow Australian Daria Gavrilova.

 

KVITOVA IN CRUISE CONTROL

Kvitova carried on where she left off in Germany last week, dominating 20-year-old American Kenin in a one-sided opening set.

Kenin showed character to put up a fight in the second set, getting back on serve at 4-4 after going 2-0 down.

Kvitova broke straight back and served out the match, having served nine aces and won 71 per cent of points on her first serve. 

 

BARTY DASHES GAVRILOVA HOPES

Barty claimed the biggest title of her career at the Miami Open in March and hit the ground running on clay.

The world number nine said she is ready to do some damage on what is her least favourite surface and showed no mercy on compatriot Gavrilova.

Barty attacked her Fed Cup team-mate's serve on Court Manolo Santana, breaking three times in each set to seal victory in only 65 minutes and book an encounter with Danielle Collins or Vera Zvonareva.

 

IN-FORM KONTAVEIT AND SABALENKA SLIP UP

Kontaveit was beaten by Kvitova in the Stuttgart decider last weekend after reaching the semi-finals of the Miami Open, but Sasnovich recovered from a first-set bagel to beat the 14th seed 0-6 6-3 6-2.

Wildcard Kuznetsova accounted for 10th seed Sabalenka 7-5 6-4, while Victoria Azarenka could face Sloane Stephens in round two after a 7-5 6-4 success over Daria Kasatkina.

Jelena Ostapenko, Caroline Garcia, Anastasija Sevastova and Yulia Putintseva also advanced.

Anastasija Sevastova inflicted a final-set bagel on fellow Latvian Jelena Ostapenko to move into the second round of the Stuttgart Open, while Lara Arruabarrena upset Carla Suarez Navarro in the Istanbul Cup.

Seventh seed Sevastova came through a topsy-turvy encounter 6-2 4-6 6-0 to move into the second round on Tuesday.

Sevastova broke her compatriot seven times to advance and will face Laura Siegemund in the last 16.

"I don't think it was a nice feeling for us both," world number 13 Sevastova said of facing the 2017 French Open champion. "At the end of the day, you just concentrate on yourself.

"It's Stuttgart, it's the first match, you play like it's any other match - you try. It's hard, but that's the thing that I did."

Sixth seed Kiki Bertens was a 7-5 6-2 winner over Anna-Lena Friedsam, while Daria Kasatkina defeated Elise Mertens 7-6 (10-8) 7-5 on a day that saw Simona Halep withdraw due to a hip injury.

Andrea Petkovic and Greet Minnen also avoided early exits on day two of the tournament. 

Top seed Suarez Navarro fell at the first hurdle in Istanbul, losing 6-4 7-5 in all-Spanish encounter with Arruabarrena.

The 30-year-old was by no means the only seed to bow out, with Katerina Siniakova beaten by Elena Rybakina after Maria Sakkari and Viktoria Kuzmova were also defeated.

Top seed Jelena Ostapenko wasted two match points as she was sent crashing out of the Bogota Open in the first round after a thrilling fightback by world number 205 Kristie Ahn.

Ranked 176 places below the 2017 French Open Champion, Ahn fought back from the brink in the deciding set to record an unlikely 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 victory in two hours and 31 minutes in Colombia.

World number 29 Ostapenko had raced to a ruthless 4-0 lead before taking the first set 6-2. The 21-year-old Latvian was all set for a swift victory after breaking Ahn to go up 4-2 in the second.

But it was then the comeback began as the American lucky loser, who was beaten 7-5 6-4 by 162nd-ranked Bibiane Schoofs in qualifying, recovered to force a tie-breaker that she clinched 7-5.

In a back-and-forth decider, Ostapenko failed to convert a pair of match points before 26-year-old Ahn completed the epic comeback to claim her first win of the season in a main draw.

In other first round matches on Tuesday, there were wins for the seventh seed Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-4 6-4 over Christina McHale, and Magda Linette (8), who overcame Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-0.

Lara Arruabarrena (11) downed Timea Babos 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 6-1 and Sara Errani came through a three-set tussle with Irina Bara 4-6 6-2 6-3.

Caroline Wozniacki and Madison Keys enjoyed contrasting wins to move into the Charleston Open third round on Wednesday.

The 2011 champion in Charleston, Wozniacki cruised past Laura Siegemund 6-2 6-2 on the clay in South Carolina.

Wozniacki was one of 10 seeds progressing, with Mihaela Buzarnescu awaiting the Dane after the Romanian brushed past Lauren Davis 6-3 6-2.

Keys, the eighth seed and 2015 runner-up, was pushed by Tatjana Maria before getting through 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4.

Jelena Ostapenko, Aryna Sabalenka, Belinda Bencic and Danielle Collins were also among the winners.

However, there were four seeded losers as Sofia Kenin, Elise Mertens, Julia Goerges and Anastasija Sevastova exited.

Monica Puig overcame Kenin 6-4 6-4 and Kaia Kanepi rallied past Mertens 0-6 6-0 7-5, while Goerges and Sevastova were beaten by Taylor Townsend and Jessica Pegula respectively.

At the Monterrey Open, four-time champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova impressively moved into the quarter-finals in Mexico.

Pavlyuchenkova, winner of the hard-court tournament in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2017, cruised past Ivana Jorovic 6-0 6-0 in just 51 minutes.

Kirsten Flipkens, the 2016 runner-up, outclassed Dalila Jakupovic 6-3 6-3, Magdalena Rybarikova overcame Stefanie Voegele 5-7 6-2 6-3 and Sachia Vickery edged Nao Hibino 7-5 5-7 7-6 (7-5).

World number two Simona Halep accounted for Barbora Strycova en route to the Indian Wells Open third round, while Serena Williams trumped Victoria Azarenka in a thrilling contest.

Romanian star Halep made light work of Strycova as she progressed at the WTA Premier tournament on Friday.

It was not as straight forward for 23-time grand slam champion Williams, who outlasted Azarenka in an epic showdown to set up a clash with Garbine Muguruza.

Meanwhile, fourth seed Sloane Stephens was ousted by Stefanie Voegele and last year's runner-up Daria Kasatkina fell 6-2 6-1 to Czech teen Marketa Vondrousova in the second round.

 

Halep sweeps past Strycova

It was fairly routine for 2015 champion Halep, who claimed a 6-2 6-4 win over Strycova in just 86 minutes.

Halep hit 18 winners and converted six of her 11 break points to remain unbeaten in five meetings against Strycova without ever dropping a set.

"I really was focused on what I have to do, and I knew how to play against her," Halep said, "We played so many times. I knew that I have to work for the match, that I have to be ready to run. So I think it was good."

Awaiting Halep is Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Kozlova, who upstaged 31st seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4 2-6 6-0.

 

Serena survives classic

It was a match for the ages as Williams prevailed 7-5 6-3 against Azarenka in a titanic battle.

In a clash of the mothers and big hitters, Williams and Azarenka produced an exhibition of relentless power and strength.

Williams had the answers in the gruelling second-round clash – her first appearance since losing in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

"You can't really enjoy it, because then you'll lose focus," Williams said. "You've got to kind of stay in the moment, you know. And it's important to -- like, sometimes you realize, 'Oh, my God, this is going to be a classic.' But you can't let your mind go there, because you wouldn't want to watch it in the future."

 

Stephens falls at first hurdle

Former US Open champion Stephens was the first major casualty at Indian Wells, where she lost to Swiss qualifier Voegele 6-3 6-0.

Voegele saved all three break points she faced as the 28-year-old improved to 5-1 against the American.

"I'm not sure [why she struggles against Voegele]," said Stephens. "I'm still trying to figure it out, obviously. If I knew, I would probably do a little bit better."

Meanwhile, sixth seed Elina Svitolina stayed alive after outlasting Sofia Kenin 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 and seventh seed Kiki Bertens beat Magda Linette 6-4 6-1.

Ashleigh Barty, Elise Mertens, Jelena Ostapenko and Johanna Konta advanced, but Caroline Garcia lost.

Caroline Wozniacki revealed she has struggled with a viral illness for almost two months after withdrawing from the Dubai Tennis Championships.

The former world number one, who was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis before last year's US Open, pulled out of a second tournament in succession and had her place taken in the main draw by Polona Hercog, who was defeated by fellow lucky loser Stefanie Voegele 6-3 6-2.

Elise Mertens, seeded 16th, claimed the biggest title of her career at the Qatar Open at the weekend but she fell to a 5-7 6-4 7-5 loss against Zhu Lin on Monday.

Seeds Anett Kontaveit (15) and Julia Goerges (13) also suffered early exits.


WOZNIACKI'S WOES

After announcing her withdrawal, Wozniacki explained she has been feeling unwell since Christmas, despite her condition improving after the Australian Open.

"It hasn't been the greatest start, the start that I'd hope for," said Wozniacki. "I picked something up at Christmas at home and it was lingering a bit all the way through Australia and after that I felt good for a couple of weeks. Then I came to Doha and then the day of my match I woke up and I felt terrible.

"It's just one of those things, you can't do anything about it. I just have to stay positive and try to do everything in my power to get better. Indian Wells and Miami is right around the corner, but thankfully not right around the corner. Hoping to be 100 per cent for both of those.

"When you have RA [rheumatoid arthritis], my immune system is not working on as high of a level as normal so it's taking me longer to get over stuff like this."

 

SEEDS LEARN OPPONENTS

Kristina Mladenovic defeated Fatma Al Nabhani 6-1 6-1 to set up a meeting with world number one Naomi Osaka, while Ons Jabeur will take on reigning champion Elina Svitolina after overcoming Donna Vekic 6-4 7-6 (11-9).

Dalila Jakupovic came from a set down to advance past Zarina Diyas 1-6 6-1 6-2 to book a date with Angelique Kerber, while Karolina Pliskova lies in wait for Dominika Cibulkova after the Slovakian triumphed 5-7 6-1 6-2 against Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena, who appeared to be struggling with injury.


OSTAPENKO IN TURMOIL

It was an emotional match for Jelena Ostapenko as she struggled with her serve, holding just once and committing 11 double faults in a 6-4 6-0 defeat to Jennifer Brady. 

The 2017 French Open champion received treatment on her back and appeared tearful both during the changeovers and prior to serving in the second set. 

Ostapenko finally held serve from 15-40 in game eight of the first set, but Brady - who will next meet Caroline Garcia, a comfortable 6-2 6-0 winner against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova - reeled off the next eight games in succession to seal the victory. 


HONEST ANETT

Needing to hold to clinch victory in the match, Zhang Shuai started the ninth game of the second set by drilling a serve beyond Kontaveit, only for it to be called out.

However, Kontaveit said it touched the line and gave the point to her opponent. Zhang went on to seal a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 victory and posted a tweet calling her opponent a "nice and honest girl" for her action.

Top seed Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber moved into the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open but Karolina Pliskova was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a viral illness.

Halep will move above Petra Kvitova to go second in the rankings next Monday following a 6-2 6-3 victory over Lesia Tsurenko in Doha on Wednesday, setting up a meeting with Julia Goerges.

Three-time grand slam champion Kerber joined Halep in the last eight, knocking out Anett Kontaveit with a 6-1 7-6 (7-3) win in the final match of the day.

Pliskova, the 2017 champion, withdrew a day after Caroline Wozniacki also pulled out due to illness, with the former replaced in the draw by her sister, Kristyna, who was beaten by Elise Mertens.

Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, Karolina Muchova and Barbora Strycova also made it through.

 

HALEP MAINTAINS FED CUP MOMENTUM UNDER NEW COACH

Halep inspired Romania to a first Fed Cup semi-final at the expense of the Czech Republic at the weekend and maintained her momentum with a flying start against Tsurenko. 

The Ukrainian had lost all five previous meetings with the world number one, so it was no great surprise when she quickly fell 5-0 behind. 

Halep trailed 3-1 in the second set but clicked back into gear as she flashed an array of classy winners, reeling off five games in a row to seal victory with new coach Thierry Van Cleemput watching on.

 

KERBER OVERCOMES KONTAVEIT

Kerber looked to be heading through in quick time as she dominated Kontaveit, but the Estonian refused to go down without a fight. 

The reigning Wimbledon champion wrapped up the opening set in only 26 minutes and wasted no time in opening up a 4-1 lead in the second. 

Kontaveit fended off six match points to force a tie-break, but the solid Kerber made just 13 unforced errors in a match which she won by holding it together in the breaker, booking an encounter with Strycova.

 

SVITOLINA SAILS THROUGH DESPITE NECK INJURY

Svitolina had failed to take a set in two previous meetings with Ostapenko but came through her second-round match impressively, triumphing 6-4 6-4. 

Last year's WTA Finals champion, who will come up against qualifier Muchova in the quarter-finals, prevailed despite being troubled by a neck issue. 

"I have been struggling since [the] Australian Open with my neck," said the fourth seed. "It's tough to say, because every day is changing. 

"It depends... on the practice, on the match, what I have, so it's tough to tell how I'm going to feel tomorrow. But every single day I try to get a treatment, I try to get some work done, and it's just a process."

Kiki Bertens and Aryna Sabalenka cruised into the last eight of the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Thursday, comfortably winning their opening matches. 

Second seed Bertens took exactly an hour to see off qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure 6-4 6-2, the world number eight dominant on serve throughout the contest. 

Sabalenka, who has moved into the WTA's top 10 for the first time, was similarly impressive as she also overcame a Belgian opponent, beating Alison Van Uytvanck 6-1 6-4. 

Next up for Sabalenka is a clash with Ekaterina Alexandrova, who triumphed 7-5 6-2 against fellow qualifier Tereza Martincova. 

Bertens, meanwhile, will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after the Russian ousted sixth seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-4 6-4.

At the Thailand Open, Tamara Zidansek came through a remarkable contest with Jennifer Brady. 

Zidansek took the first set, lost the second 6-0 and then blew three match points after opening up a 5-1, 40-0 lead in the third.

Brady then failed to convert two match points of her own before Zidansek eventually triumphed 11-9 in a decisive tie-breaker, taking her seventh opportunity to finish a topsy-turvy match.

Magda Linette, Viktorija Golubic and Wang Yafan are also through to the quarter-finals in Hua Hin, the latter benefiting from Zhang Shuai's retirement through illness.

Former champion Kristina Mladenovic crashed out of the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy in a bizarre contest with Jelena Ostapenko, as Garbine Muguruza made a strong start to the Thailand Open.

Mladenovic prevailed in Russia in 2017 but fell at the first hurdle this time around in a frenetic contest that saw each player on the end of a bagel.

The Frenchwoman failed to live with the destructive hitting of Ostapenko, champion at Roland Garros in 2017, as she lost the first set 6-1, only to respond in stunning fashion in the second, which she won without dropping a game.

Ostapenko, knocked out in the first round of the Australian Open replied in kind, though, setting up a second-round clash with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova - who overcame Alize Cornet - despite hitting 35 unforced errors to her 25 winners.

Victoria Azarenka, whose first-round exit at the Australian Open reduced her to tears as she bemoaned her loss of form, was able to produce a strong performance in a 6-4 6-1 defeat of Margarita Gasparyan, which sealed a second-round meeting with the runner-up in Melbourne, top seed Petra Kvitova.

Julia Goerges, Donna Vekic, Ysaline Bonaventure, Tereza Martincova and Veronika Kudermetova were also victorious in St Petersburg on Monday.

Meanwhile in Hua Hin, Muguruza dispensed of former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki 6-3 6-4 in 79 minutes, the two-time grand slam champion taking advantage of 26 unforced errors from the racket of the German to progress.

"It was a very tough first round," Muguruza said during her on-court post-match interview. "[Lisicki is] a grand slam finalist and she has a very powerful game, the fastest serves. So I'm very happy with this match."

Jennifer Brady stunned a player ranked 98 places above her by seeing off second seed Caroline Garcia 6-4 7-6 (7-3) and there were also wins for Zheng Saisai, Duan Ying-ying, Tamara Zidansek, Viktorija Golubic, Zhang Shuai and Wang Yafan.

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