Karolina Pliskova recovered from a slow start to claim her fourth WTA Tour title of the season in a rain-affected Zhengzhou Open final against Petra Martic.

Pliskova had not been past the quarter-finals of any tournament since winning the Eastbourne International at June, beaten in the last 16 at both Wimbledon and the US Open.

But the top seed rediscovered her form in China this week and wrapped up the championship without dropping a set, defeating Martic 6-3 6-2 despite initially struggling before the weather - a factor throughout the day - decisively intervened.

Rain delayed the start and then disrupted play after just two games in which Pliskova was immediately broken and failed to come up with an instant response.

The world number two appeared to benefit from the stoppage, though, as she won three consecutive games when play resumed, getting back on serve with a brilliant forehand winner down the line just minutes after saving a break point that would have had her 3-0 down.

Further Pliskova pressure in the eighth game told again and she took a third break opportunity to turn the set on its head, confidently and comfortably then serving out the opener for the lead.

The Czech was clinical in the second set, responding to an opening hold to love from Martic by winning three games on the bounce - breaking to love - as she maintained control in a series of rallies before another brief rain delay.

Pliskova again came out firing and broke once more, setting up a straightforward finish for her 15th career title.

Karolina Pliskova and Petra Martic both wasted little time in recording convincing wins to make it through to the Zhengzhou Open final.

Top seed Pliskova needed just 68 minutes to see off Ajla Tomljanovic, winning 93 per cent of the points on her first serve as she coasted to a 6-3 6-2 triumph.

The Czech's smooth progress came after she had to play twice on Friday following rain, recording wins over Polona Hercog and then Sofia Kenin.

The 27-year-old, ranked two in the world, will be aiming to win a fourth title in 2019, following on from triumphs in Brisbane, Rome and Eastbourne. She was also a beaten finalist in Miami.

Standing in her way will be Martic, who was fractionally quicker in winning her semi-final against Kristina Mladenovic. The seventh seed wrapped up a 6-0 6-3 result in 67 minutes.

She was aided by five double faults from Mladenovic in a lopsided first set, though the Frenchwoman improved in the second, coming close to a break in a lengthy seventh game.

However, Martic – who won her maiden WTA Tour title in Istanbul earlier this year – held under pressure before breaking emphatically in the next, allowing her to serve out for the match.

Karolina Pliskova doubled up to reach the semi-finals of the Zhengzhou Open and Kristina Mladenovic claimed the scalp of Elina Svitolina on Friday.

The top seed's last 16 match with Polona Hercog was finely poised when rain forced its suspension on Thursday, with Pliskova trailing 5-2 in the second set having taken the first.

However, Pliskova rattled off five straight games to win 6-3 7-5 to progress to a quarter-final with Sofia Kenin, which she subsequently came through in three sets 6-4 4-6 6-1.

"To play two matches in a day, it's never easy, but in the first one, I was lucky enough to not go to a third set, just finished quickly and saved some power for the next one," Pliskova said.

"I think I played good tennis in both matches. I was serving well, a lot of aces, which always helps, and there's a lot of positive things for tomorrow."

Pliskova will face Ajla Tomljanovic in the last four, the Australian another who had to play twice in the same day after 16 matches were postponed due to inclement weather 24 hours earlier.

Tomljanovic saw off Kiki Bertens in straight sets but had a more complicated passage through to the final four against Zheng Saisai.

After two hours and 35 minutes Tomljanovic won 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 6-4, moving a victory away from her fifth WTA final, having lost all of her previous four.

Kristina Mladenovic ousted second seed and US Open semi-finalist Svitolina, winning 6-4 4-6 6-3 to set up a showdown with Petra Martic, who ousted Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 5-7 6-4.

There was no play at the Zhengzhou Open on Thursday as the rain that derailed Wednesday's late fixtures continued.

Some 16 matches, including the conclusion of top seed Karolina Pliskova's tie with Polona Hercog, were scheduled but they have all been pushed back to Friday.

Pliskova will restart play with a one-set lead over Hercog, who fought back to lead 5-2 in the second before the weather intervened.

Third seed Kiki Bertens was due to face Ajla Tomlkanovic, while world number three Elina Svitolina - who celebrated her 25th birthday on Thursday - also had her game moved back.

 

Top seed Karolina Pliskova was rescued by the rain at the Zhengzhou Open as Polona Hercog's fightback was brought to a halt.

Pliskova started brightly to take the first set 6-3 but the world number two was serving to stay in the second at 5-2 down when the weather intervened, as it had several times during the day.

The duo will resume on Thursday at the WTA Premier event to settle who will make it through to the last eight.

Sofia Kenin awaits the winner after the sixth seed defeated Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2.

Petra Martic, seeded seventh, also progressed but had to battle back from a set down to overcome Fiona Ferro 3-6 6-1 6-2.

There was one seed who suffered a loss, though, with Caroline Garcia beaten 7-5 6-2 at the hands of Kristina Mladenovic.

Serena Williams suffered an injury scare as she progressed to the last eight of the US Open with a straight-sets win over Petra Martic.

Though she was broken early in the match, Williams never really looked troubled by Martic as she won her 99th match at the US Open.

That tally is her most at a grand slam, but the 23-time major winner's triumph was not without drama as she rolled her ankle in the second set when going to the net.

Williams had to take a medical timeout but said she felt "good" afterwards, and her spirits will likely have been boosted by the exits of Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova.

BARTY PUTS IT IN PERSPECTIVE

Barty was stunned by Wang Qiang in her fourth-round clash, the second seed making 39 unforced errors in a highly disappointing display.

Wang claimed a 6-2 6-4 win, denying Barty the chance to play Williams in the quarter-finals, but the French Open champion was able to look back on her grand slam season with satisfaction.

"We've had a great season in grand slams for singles. We've made the second week every single one, which has been really special," Barty told a media conference.

"Now we'll sit back, reflect, and look forward to a big couple months to finish off the year."

DOUBLE CELEBRATION FOR SVITOLINA

Elina Svitolina, meanwhile, saw off American Madison Keys in straight sets.

Svitolina is in a relationship with Gael Monfils, who watched on in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Monfils turned 33 on Sunday, and Svitolina revealed she was inspired by playing on his birthday.

"It's his birthday, I was trying to be really focused on my match but it was extra motivation for me," Svitolina told ESPN on court afterwards.

 

LAST EIGHT IS GREAT FOR KONTA

Johanna Konta outlasted third seed Pliskova in an engrossing match on Louis Armstrong, producing a fine comeback to prevail 6-7 (1-7) 6-3 7-5.

It means the Briton has now reached the last eight of every slam in her career.

Konta is also the first British woman to reach this stage at the US Open since Jo Durie in 1983.

"I'm really pleased [with that achievement]," Konta said at a media conference. 

"I think for me more on a personal level to be able to have made it to the quarters for my third slam in a row, I think that's a really, really big achievement for me. So I'm really pleased with that."

Karolina Pliskova survived a scare to keep her US Open hopes alive, while Serena Williams cruised into the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.

Having seen Simona Halep stunningly undone by qualifier Taylor Townsend on Thursday, the fans at Flushing Meadows may have thought another shock was on the cards when Ons Jabeur took Pliskova to a decider.

However, the third seed rallied to reach the last 16, where she will meet Johanna Konta.

Williams enjoyed a more comfortable day at the office in seeing off Karolina Muchova in straight sets and will play Petra Martic after her win over Anastasija Sevastova.

Meanwhile, Madison Keys had her blood pressure taken in her straight-sets win over Sofia Kenin.

 

PLISKOVA NOT SATISFIED

It appeared to be plain sailing for Pliskova when she breezed to the first set 6-1 against world number 62 Jabeur.

However, the Tunisian fought to send the match to a third set, and Pliskova needed over two hours to come through a stern test 6-1 4-6 6-4.

Afterwards, the former world number one made it clear she was not satisfied with her performance.

"You know, just got in trouble maybe more because of me than her," Pliskova said.

"Of course her game is, once you're not feeling great and her game is not super nice to play because she plays kind of everything, I don't even know if she knows what she's playing, and yeah, then was quite difficult.

"In the end, good. It was big fight. Not for sure the best feeling but I won, which is good."

 

KEYS UNLOCKS KENIN

Tenth seed Keys looked set to claim a comfortable win over compatriot Kenin, serving eight aces to take the opening set in 27 minutes.

However, her hopes of returning to the final she reached in 2017 seemed in jeopardy when she had the blood pressure strap on her arm at 3-3 in the second.

Yet she was able to break for a 6-5 lead and withstood pressure from Kenin to serve out a 6-3 7-5 success and set up a fourth-round meeting with Elina Svitolina, who thrashed fellow Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 6-2 6-0.

"Just not feeling 100 per cent tonight but really glad I was able to get through in two. It would have been a lot trickier if I had to play another set," Keys told ESPN on court afterwards.

KONTA RELISHING PLISKOVA REUNION

When Konta played Pliskova in Rome this year she was on the end of a 6-3 6-4 defeat. However, after thrashing Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-3, the Briton expressed excitement at the chance to avenge that loss.

"I am actually looking forward to seeing how I can do a bit better, how I can just maybe ask some better questions this time around," said Konta.

World number two Ashleigh Barty remains on course for an enticing quarter-final with Williams following her 7-5 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari.

She will next face Wang Qiang, who came back from 3-0 down in the first set to beat Fiona Ferro 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

Serena Williams moved through at the US Open but sister Venus was sent packing as rain wreaked havoc in New York.

Only five women's singles matches were completed at Flushing Meadows, where poor weather conditions prevented play on uncovered outside courts.

Former world number one and 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams took to Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night and survived a scare.

Venus could not make it two from two for the Williams family, while second seed Ashleigh Barty advanced to the third round.

 

SERENA SEES OFF MCNALLY

Six-time US Open champion Serena Williams rallied to beat countrywoman Caty McNally 5-7 6-3 6-1.

Williams dropped the first set against her 17-year-old opponent, but the eighth seed eventually improved to 19-0 in the US Open second round.

The 37-year-old American superstar hit 32 winners and 10 aces, while winning 81 per cent of her first serves.

 

SVITOLINA VANQUISHES VENUS

Elina Svitolina booked her spot in the US Open third round for the fifth successive year after defeating Venus Williams 6-4 6-4.

Svitolina – the fifth seed – needed almost two hours to see off Williams in a second-round blockbuster.

Seven-time grand slam champion and 39-year-old Williams was asked about her future and plans for the remainder of the year.

"I mean, [it] was a great match. It was well-contested and it was great to have the crowd behind me," she told reporters. "It was just a really magical atmosphere.

"I did a lot of things right today. A lot of great things to build on. I missed Asia the last couple of years, so I'd love to head on over and play some more matches."

 

BARTY WINS AS KEYS HITS RIGHT NOTES

French Open winner Barty beat a brave Lauren Davis 6-2 7-6 (7-2) under the Louis Armstrong Stadium lights.

Madison Keys equalled her career-best winning streak by topping Zhu Lin 6-4 6-1 in the second round.

Runner-up in 2017, Keys made it eight consecutive victories after claiming her fifth WTA title at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, third seed and 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova eased past qualifier Mariam Bolkvadze 6-1 6-4.

Williams sisters Serena and Venus barely raised a sweat on day one of the US Open, while Ashleigh Barty dug deep to advance in New York.

Serena and Venus Williams lost three games between them as the American pair cruised through to the second round at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Former world number one and French Open champion Barty survived a big scare, 2017 US Open runner-up Madison Keys eased into the next round but Angelique Kerber crashed out.

 

SERENA EXTENDS SHARAPOVA DOMINANCE

It was a ruthless performance from 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams, who demolished Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-1.

Serena – who was at the centre of an infamous meltdown during last year's US Open final – made it 19 straight victories over five-time major winner Sharapova.

Fellow American Caty McNally is up next for Serena after easing past Timea Bacsinszky 6-4 6-1.

Two-time champion Venus Williams, meanwhile, routed Zheng Saisai 6-1 6-0 to extend her first-round record at the tournament to 21-0.

"I was happy with today, so I'm not going to ask for more," said Venus, who faces Elina Svitolina after the fifth seed defeated Whitney Osuigwe 6-1 7-5.

As for 10th seed Keys, she kicked off her campaign with a 7-5 6-0 victory over Misaki Doi after 63 minutes.

 

A MUCH-NEEDED AUSTRALIAN WIN

Australian sport was reeling on Sunday when Ben Stokes and the England cricket team produced a stunning fightback in the third Ashes Test.

And it briefly appeared fans Down Under were set for further pain when Aussie star Barty remarkably fell 5-0 behind to Zarina Diyas in the first set played at Arthur Ashe Stadium in the tournament.

But Barty – a former cricketer – rallied 1-6 6-3 6-2 to provide a much-needed boost, having herself taken in Australia's Headingley aberration.

"[England's performance] was pretty good. Credit where credit's due," she said. "Stokesy was incredible.

"I think we missed some opportunities and my whole team were glued to it. I have an English trainer, as well. He's had a fantastic 24 hours of feeding it to us and not letting us forget that result."

 

ADDED NERVES AMONG CZECH MATES

Karolina Pliskova came through two tie-breaks in an all-Czech clash packed with breaks to beat Tereza Martincova – and the third seed cheekily blamed her opponent's nationality for her nervy display.

"It was not perfect, but I'm through, so that's important," she said. "The first rounds they are always a little bit nervous, I would say, for most of the players.

"It doesn't help that you play somebody from your country, because then it adds some extra nerves, which maybe would not be there if she's from China or something."

Unable to respond as Pliskova did, Kerber was a big opening-day casualty, losing 7-5 0-6 6-4 to Kristina Mladenovic.

Meanwhile, Johanna Konta, who reached the last four at Roland Garros and the last eight at Wimbledon, was made to work for three sets by Daria Kasatkina, having appeared set for swift and stylish progress after taking the opener before prevailing 6-1 4-6 6-2.

Anastasija Sevastova consigned Eugenie Bouchard to a miserable 12th straight singles defeat, a run stretching back to February.

Ashleigh Barty is one win away from returning to the top of the WTA rankings after world number one Naomi Osaka retired in the Western & Southern Open quarter-finals.

Osaka only herself reclaimed top spot by reaching the last eight at the Rogers Cup, but defeat to Sofia Kenin at the same stage in Cincinnati would open the door for Barty.

And the Japanese star, having battled back after losing the first set, taking the second 6-1, was forced to retire at the WTA Premier event on Friday.

Osaka had required treatment to a knee injury and finally retired after being broken early in the third set.

Barty will now unseat Osaka if she advances to the final, having reached the last four with a stunning comeback victory over Maria Sakkari 5-7 6-2 6-0.

Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova's own hopes of reaching the summit – a possibility if Barty also fell by the wayside – ended as she crashed out to Svetlana Kuznetsova in another three-set contest.

 

BARTY FOCUSED ON TOURNAMENT SUCCESS

The ranking might be on the line for Barty, but she is happy to set that aside and focus on going as far as possible in Cincinnati.

"I'm just keeping my eye on the ball and, if I win matches, the ranking will take care of itself," she said after her win.

"We're excited to be in new territory here in Cincy."

Kuznetsova awaits the Australian and French Open champion.

 

OSAKA WORRIED AFTER BOWING OUT

It was not a good day for reigning US Open champion Osaka.

Osaka retired with a leg injury against Kenin, handing Barty the chance to return to the WTA summit.

It also means Osaka is under an injury cloud ahead of the US Open at Flushing Meadows, where she stunned Serena Williams last year.

"It sucks, especially since I didn't want to get injured this close to the Open," Osaka said. "And now I'm kind of worried a little bit.

"She was playing well. I had to really think about what I had to do during the match, so I'm not that mad at the result. The injured part sucks, but losing, it's not that big of a deal."

 

KUZNETSOVA WINS THRILLER AGAINST PLISKOVA

Two-time grand slam champion Kuznetsova outlasted third seed Pliskova 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 to reach the final four.

Kuznetsova was down a set with Pliskova serving for the match but the Russian rallied thanks to 30 winners and six aces in the gruelling two hour, 23-minute clash.

Meanwhile, Madison Keys vanquished seven-time major champion Venus Williams 6-2 6-3 to set up a semi-final with fellow American Kenin.

Madison Keys ended Simona Halep's chances of reaching another Western & Southern Open final, while Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty battled through.

A three-time runner-up in Cincinnati, Halep was edged by Keys at the WTA Premier event on Thursday.

The Romanian became the first top-four seed to fall, with Barty, Osaka and Karolina Pliskova booking their spots in the quarter-finals.

 

KEYS EDGES HALEP IN THRILLER

Keys, the American 16th seed, served 10 aces on her way to a 6-1 3-6 7-5 victory over fourth seed Halep in the third round.

Halep came from 3-0 down in the final set and saved a match point in the 10th game, but Keys broke again to claim her win.

Having lost finals in Cincinnati in 2015, 2017 and 2018, Halep fell short of reaching another decider.

Keys will face Venus Williams after the American veteran beat Donna Vekic 2-6 6-3 6-3.

 

BARTY, OSAKA MOVE THROUGH

Barty was pushed before getting past Anett Kontaveit 4-6 7-5 7-5 in two hours, 10 minutes.

The Australian found herself 5-3 down in the final set before winning four straight games to advance.

Barty will meet Maria Sakkari, who upset Belarusian ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4.

Osaka was also forced to three sets by Hsieh Su-wei before claiming a 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-2 victory.

Awaiting the Japanese star in the last eight is Sofia Kenin, who beat Elina Svitolina for the second time in as many tournaments with a 6-3 7-6 (7-3) victory.

 

PLISKOVA, KUZNETSOVA PROGRESS

Pliskova, the 2016 champion, is yet to drop a set and was too good for qualifier Rebecca Peterson 7-5 6-4.

The Czech will meet Svetlana Kuznetsova after the 34-year-old wildcard crushed Sloane Stephens 6-1 6-2.

Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep battled into the last 16 at the Western & Southern Open, while Ashleigh Barty crushed Maria Sharapova.

Osaka is back at world number one and the Japanese star moved through her second-round match at the WTA Premier event in Cincinnati on Wednesday.

Like Osaka, Halep – a three-time runner-up – was tested, while Barty needed less than 90 minutes to thrash Sharapova.

 

OSAKA, HALEP PUSHED TO THREE

Osaka needed more than two hours to overcome Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6 (7-3) 2-6 6-2 in the second round.

She had won her previous three meetings with the Belarusian in straight sets, but was pushed at the hard-court tournament.

Osaka will next face Hsieh Su-wei, who got past qualifier Jennifer Brady 7-6 (11-9) 6-3.

Halep, a finalist at the event in 2015, 2017 and 2018, came from a set and a break down to beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6 7-5 6-4.

The Romanian will meet Madison Keys, who eased past Daria Kasatkina 6-4 6-1.

 

BARTY BRUSHES PAST SHARAPOVA

A surprise last-32 loser at the Rogers Cup, Barty dominated Sharapova in a 6-4 6-1 victory.

The Australian broke serve four times during her 40th win of the season while continuing Sharapova's rough 2019.

Sharapova, a five-time grand slam champion, holds just an 8-6 win-loss record in 2019.

Barty will meet Anett Kontaveit, who was too good for Polish teenager Iga Swiatek 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

 

PLISKOVA, SVITOLINA THROUGH ON GOOD DAY FOR SEEDS

Champion in 2016, Karolina Pliskova was untroubled by Wang Yafan, winning 6-1 6-3.

Meanwhile, Aryna Sabalenka, the ninth seed, cruised past Zheng Saisai 6-4 6-3.

Elina Svitolina will face Sofia Kenin after their 6-4 6-1 wins over Elise Mertens and Zarina Diyas respectively, while Sloane Stephens and Donna Vekic – who beat Victoria Azarenka – progressed along with Svetlana Kuznetsova and Rebecca Peterson.

Serena Williams is the last seed standing at the Rogers Cup as defending champion Simona Halep made a quarter-final exit on Friday.

Williams was in impressive form as she powered past Naomi Osaka in their first meeting since last year's controversial US Open final.

The American great is the only seed into the last four, with Halep's title defence coming to an end at the WTA Premier tournament.

 

WILLIAMS WONDERFUL AGAINST OSAKA

Williams has apologised for her meltdown at Flushing Meadows last year and the 23-time grand slam champion produced a brilliant display against Osaka.

Osaka had won her previous two matches against Williams in straight sets, but the 37-year-old secured a 6-3 6-4 victory over the Japanese star on Friday.

Williams may have been expecting to face Halep in a rematch of their Wimbledon final, but the Romanian bowed out against Marie Bouzkova.

The Czech qualifier continued her run, winning the first set 6-4 when Halep retired injured.

PLISKOVA, SVITOLINA STUNNED

Karolina Pliskova also exited in the quarter-finals, suffering a 6-0 2-6 6-4 loss to Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

That result meant Osaka, who later lost to Williams, will replace Ashleigh Barty atop the world rankings.

Andreescu will face Sofia Kenin after the American upset Ukrainian sixth seed Elina Svitolina 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

At 37, Williams is by far the oldest player left in the draw, with the others – Bouzkova (21), Andreescu (19) and Kenin (20) all under 22.

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka will go head-to-head for the first time since the controversial 2018 US Open decider after the pair reached the Rogers Cup quarter-finals.

Osaka prevailed against childhood hero Williams last year at Flushing Meadows, where the 23-time grand slam champion's epic meltdown contributed to her defeat.

Williams was issued a code violation for what umpire Carlos Ramos deemed to be coaching from Patrick Mouratoglou, irritating the former world number one who insisted she was not a cheat.

A point penalty for racquet abuse led to her branding Ramos a "liar" and a "thief" and she was then docked a game, after which she called for the match referee and alleged she was being treated differently to male players.

Osaka's maiden major was overshadowed by Williams' behaviour. Now, the two players are set for a rematch in Toronto.

 

SERENA SURVIVES ALEXANDROVA TEST

The 37-year-old American star was pushed by Ekaterina Alexandrova in a 7-5 6-4 victory on Thursday.

Williams trailed the Russian qualifier 3-0 in the first and 3-1 in the second, however, the eighth seed produced when it mattered most to advance at the WTA Premier event.

A three-time champion, Williams – playing for the first time since Wimbledon – said: "I definitely feel like it takes a while to get back into the rhythm, because we've had a long season of just clay and then grass, and now we're on hard courts. So it definitely feels different, especially for me now. Usually I don't feel that huge of a difference, but for whatever reason I do this year."

 

OSAKA ON TRACK TO RECLAIM TOP RANKING

Australian Open champion and second seed Osaka overcame teenager Iga Swiatek 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in the last 16.

Osaka rallied from a break and two set points down to eventually prevail against the Polish 18-year-old.

The Japanese star is on track to return to the WTA's summit on Monday ahead of Karolina Pliskova, who must beat Bianca Andreescu to have any chance of claiming the top ranking.

Pliskova accounted for Anett Kontaveit 6-3 7-5, while Andreescu outlasted Kiki Bertens 6-1 6-7 (7-9) 6-4.

 

HALEP'S TITLE DEFENCE ALIVE

Defending champion Simona Halep eased past Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 6-1 in just 67 minutes.

Halep – the fourth seed – was a class above as she reached the Rogers Cup quarters for the fifth time.

Next up for Halep is qualifier Marie Bouzkova, who stunned former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-2.

Sixth seed Elina Svitolina and Sofia Kenin also moved through to the last eight.

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.

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