Petra Kvitova conceded she might have returned too early from the arm injury that kept her out of the French Open, as her grand slam season ended with a second-round defeat to Andrea Petkovic at the US Open.

The two-time Wimbledon champion reached the final at the Australian Open this year before being forced to pull out of Roland Garros in May.

Kvitova did not play any further tournaments prior to Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round before losing to Johanna Konta.

The world number six was undone at Flushing Meadows by a player she has consistently had problems with, Petkovic going 6-5 up in the career head-to-head with Kvitova by condemning her to a 6-4 6-4 defeat.

Kvitova revealed she has swelling on her arm but said the mental pain of skipping Wimbledon would have been more troubling than a physical complaint.

"Maybe I should take one more week before Wimby, but that means I'm going to skip Wimby, which, you know, on the mental side would be much tougher, I think," Kvitova told a news conference.

"Maybe the arm would be much better right now, but I didn't feel any pain. It's just getting swollen, which means something is there but I don't know what is there."

On her performance against Petkovic, Kvitova added: "I don't think I played that badly. I did have my chances, for sure, but somehow I just couldn't make it."

Asked to assess her performances in majors this year, the Czech left-hander said: "Overall I'm pretty happy, for sure. I had to withdraw from the French Open, which wasn't really a nice thing but that happens in the tennis career, so I'm taking it.

"I reached the final of the Australian Open, definitely the highlight of it. I could have missed Wimbledon but I was able to play and reached a good result over there. Overall, I think it was OK."

Petra Kvitova has withdrawn from next week's Rogers Cup in Toronto as she continues to battle a left forearm injury.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova was forced to withdraw from this year's French Open after a grade two muscle tear in her arm was discovered.

The Czech said she had overcome the issue ahead of Wimbledon, where she reached the last 16 before losing to Johanna Konta in three sets.

However, Kvitova has not played since and will now miss the Rogers Cup.

In a tweet on Friday, she wrote: "I'm so disappointed to have to withdraw from @rogerscup.

"My forearm injury is continuing to cause problems so, on the advice of my medical team, I won't make the trip to Canada.

"I will really miss being in Toronto this year and wish the tournament every success."

Serena Williams sang the praises of Cori 'Coco' Gauff and Ashleigh Barty as she assessed the credentials of two players who could deny her a record-tying 24th grand slam title next weekend.

Seven-time Wimbledon champion Williams was an impressive 6-3 6-4 winner against Germany's Julia Goerges on No. 1 Court on Saturday, setting up a last-16 clash with Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who beat Lauren Davis.

The 37-year-old American superstar could face world number one Barty in the quarter-finals, while Gauff - who Williams says is "totally capable" of winning the title at the age of 15 - is on the opposite side of the draw.

Williams labelled Australian Barty a "beautiful player" with "great technique" and added: "She's just someone in the locker room that you just always root for.

"But in general I have been watching her game because I know that she's a force to be reckoned with. So I've been watching a lot."

Barty trounced British player Harriet Dart 6-1 6-1 on Centre Court and will face American Alison Riske next. Riske, ranked 55th, beat Swiss 13th seed Belinda Bencic in three sets.

Williams says Gauff is equipped to achieve more success at Wimbledon, with the world number 313 to play Simona Halep next.

"I think there's some 15-year-olds, like me, who wouldn't know what to do at Wimbledon," Williams said. "Then you have a 15-year-old like Coco who knows what to do. I think she's definitely on a different level, so I think she's totally capable and ready."

Fourth seed Kiki Bertens was the biggest casualty of the day, the Dutch player sliding to a 7-5 6-1 defeat at the hands of experienced Barbora Strycova.

Fellow Czech Petra Kvitova raced to a 6-3 6-2 win against Poland's Magda Linette, Britain's Johanna Konta ground out a 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory over US ninth seed Sloane Stephens, and Belgian Elise Mertens dug in for a 6-2 6-7 (9-11) 6-4 success against Wang Qiang of China.

FOREARM FOREWARNING

Kvitova looks to have made untroubled progress through to the second week, and the two-time Wimbledon champion is happy with her form.

But the 29-year-old has warned her campaign could end at any moment and it may have nothing to do with an opponent.

She began the tournament saying she had "no pain" in her left arm after several days of practice, but a tear forced her to pull out of the French Open and Kvitova is wary of the problem possibly returning.

"As I mentioned already many times before, the pain can come in the forearm and I have to retire," she said.

"Now my mind is more focusing on the arm than maybe on the tennis. It's a bit difficult in the practices before, my arm just getting tighter. I just felt it. I couldn't really hit it.

"I'm always worried about the scenarios that's come in the match. So far it's okay."

ENJOYING A PINCER THE ACTION

Did Barty intend to quote Sebastian, the crab from The Little Mermaid, in her press conference after beating Dart?

Asked about how she figures out how and when to play certain shots, Barty said: "I think for me sometimes I look at a shot, I play a shot, I think the seaweed is always greener in someone else's lake. I try and think of how else I can win the point."

The seaweed idiom is thought to have been coined for the 1989 animated Disney film, a subterranean take on the 'grass is always greener' notion.

COCO HAS A NEW SUPER-FAN - BUT SHE'S NOT A BFF YET

Gauff was only involved in doubles on Saturday, losing a mixed match with British partner Jay Clarke.

Yet she remains in demand and proved good value in her post-match news conference, thrilled to have picked up a new fan in the former United States First Lady Michelle Obama.

On Friday evening in the US, Obama tweeted: "Coco is terrific!"

"Yeah, I just saw the tweet," said 15-year-old Gauff, who will play in the singles fourth round on Monday. "We don't talk personally. I don't have her number or anything. I was super excited. She's one of my role models. So it was just cool to see that she knows I exist."

Serena Williams had the support of Meghan Markle on Thursday and revealed her hope to have all of Britain behind her when she plays in the mixed doubles with Andy Murray.

Wimbledon great Williams defeated teenager Kaja Juvan in three sets at the All England Club, with the Duchess of Sussex watching on No. 1 Court.

"It's always exciting when she comes out to watch and support the tennis," Williams said of her friend. "I was happy."

Markle's son, Archie, will be christened on Saturday but Williams can at least offer a reasonable excuse for why she will be absent.

"I'm working on Saturday," she joked. "Yeah, so she understands work."

Before then, however, Williams will link up with Murray in mixed doubles action on Friday - and believes she may receive even greater backing when partnering the home favourite.

"Actually I'm curious," the American said. "I'm going to be so happy when I go out there, it's going to be really cool. That's the real reason I wanted to play with Andy."

Elsewhere on Thursday, defending champion Angelique Kerber crashed out to Lauren Davis. Teenager Amanda Anisimova also lost, beaten by Magda Linette.

Top seed Ashleigh Barty got through, though, along with Sloane Stephens and Belinda Bencic.

 

DAVIS: 'BETTER THAN IT LOOKS'

Kerber's humiliation in defeat to Davis was capped by the American's heavy strapping on her knee, shoulder and, following a first-set slip, ankle.

But Davis insisted she is physically fit despite hobbling through much of her stunning defeat of the 2018 winner.

"I feel good. Tape is a lot better than it looks," she said. "It's just a little soreness with my meniscus on my left side. It's really just prevention at this point, especially on the grass where it can be slippery."

 

KVITOVA, KIKI BATTLE BACK

Petra Kvitova was forced out of the French Open with a forearm injury and looked as though she might be heading home early from Wimbledon, too, as she trailed 5-3 in the first and then saw opponent Kristina Mladenovic forge three set points.

While two-time champion Kvitova battled back to win in straight sets, she acknowledged there are still issues with her injury.

"I can't say it's better, I can't say it's worse," she said. "I'm feeling everything on my body. It's not really surprising.

"We'll see how that will look like tomorrow. I really had a tough match today with fast serves flying to me."

Kiki Bertens was also given a scare but came back from the brink of defeat to beat Taylor Townsend 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

 

KONTA CONTINUES BRITISH BID

Both British players in action on the WTA Tour won on Thursday, with Johanna Konta and Harriet Dart each progressing.

French Open semi-finalist Konta brushed aside Katerina Siniakova 6-3 6-4 and said: "I think for any player who is getting to the third round of a grand slam, that's always a massive achievement. It's a massive achievement for me.

"So I'm really pleased for [the other British players] and myself, for us to be still in the tournament, still going at it."

Dart, meanwhile, was on target in a deciding set to see off Beatriz Haddad Maia and will next face Barty.

Former champions Garbine Muguruza and Maria Sharapova crashed out of Wimbledon in the first round, but Serena Williams said she is "feeling good" after starting with a win on day two.

There will be no repeat of Muguruza's 2017 triumph at the All England Club after the Spaniard was beaten 6-4 6-4 by 121-ranked Brazilian outsider Beatriz Haddad Maia on Tuesday.

Sharapova, the 2004 champion, was trailing Pauline Parmentier 5-0 in the final set when the five-time grand slam winner retired due to a left forearm injury.

Williams made hard work of beating outsider Giulia Gatto-Monticone 6-2 7-5 on Centre Court before it was confirmed she will partner Andy Murray in the mixed doubles at SW19.

Top seed Ashleigh Barty made light work of defeating Zheng Saisai 6-4 6-2, while defending champion Angelique Kerber, Kiki Bertens, Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova were among the other seeds to progress.

 

SERENA: I'M FEELING GOOD THAT I CAN WALK

Williams was not moving freely in a straight-sets defeat of world number 161 Gatto-Monticone.

The 23-time grand slam singles champion has been troubled by her left knee, but said she is happy with her condition after booking a meeting with Kaja Juvan.

"It's the best I've felt since February," the American great declared. “She [Gatto-Monticone] never gave up and it's good for me to play matches like this when I haven't had a ton of matches this year. I'm feeling good that I can actually walk. I'm better now. It's fine."

 

BARTY RELIEVED TO PASS 'TRICKY' TEST

Barty did not play at Eastbourne last week due to an arm injury but looked untroubled against Zheng as the world number one eyes back-to-back grand slams after winning her first at the French Open.

The Australian won 86 per cent of points on her first serve and broke four times on No.1 Court, sealing a showdown with Alison Van Uytvanck.

"I think [it was] a very tricky opponent to start off with. [I'm] Very happy with the way we were able to work our way into the match. It took some time to adjust to conditions and a different court," said Barty.

 

NERVY KERBER MASTERS MARIA

Fifth seed Kerber returned to Centre Court to get past fellow German Tatjana Maria 12 months after winning the tournament for the first time.

Kerber said: "I was really nervous, to be honest, because of course to going out there as the defending champion, it was really special. Walking on the Centre Court, playing there again. A lot of emotions, a lot of memories.

"But I was enjoying it. I was really enjoying the match. I was enjoying the points and the crowd. It was a really, yeah, nice match, but of course with a lot of nerves at the beginning."

Petra Kvitova expects to be able to play at Wimbledon after testing an arm injury on the All England Club practice courts.

The 2011 and 2014 women's singles champion came to London with questions over her readiness to compete.

She has not played for six weeks, abandoning a match in Rome due to injury and then pulling out of the French Open.

A grade two tear in her left forearm - Kvitova is a left-hander - has been the problem, but she feels increasingly optimistic about taking part in Wimbledon.

The Czech is due to begin her campaign on Tuesday against Tunisian Ons Jabeur, who reached the Eastbourne semi-finals before an ankle blow caused her to pull out.

Kvitova told BBC Sport: "I had some doubts about whether I would play at Wimbledon but my arm is better, which is great.

"The tear in my forearm has been an unusual injury - nobody knows how it is going to be and how much time I will need to be ready again.

"I had a few MRI scans during the period when I couldn't hit and it didn't show that it's 100 per cent ready but sometimes in our life, nothing is really ready!"

She reported "no pain" after a practice on Saturday, but said: "Of course, if I do have pain in my arm I won't play. So far it's okay - there's a few more days so anything can happen."

Kvitova, 29, was attacked in her home by a knife-carrying intruder in late 2016 and suffered serious injuries to her left hand.

She would love to win a third Wimbledon title, even if she admits her preparation this year has been far from ideal.

She said: "My expectations here are not really high but maybe this can help me relax more on court."

Petra Kvitova could face a race against time to be fit for Wimbledon after withdrawing from the Birmingham Classic with an injury.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, the world number five, pulled out of her first-round French Open match in May due to an arm problem.

Kvitova won the 2017 Birmingham tournament - her first triumph since returning to tennis after she was stabbed by an intruder in her home in December 2016 - and prevailed again in last year's final with Magdalena Rybarikova.

However, she will not be able to defend her title for a third successive season.

"Unfortunately Birmingham is too soon," Kvitova posted on her official Twitter account.

"I'm working really hard to get back as soon as possible and keeping everything crossed for Wimbledon."

"I have the best memories of Birmingham," the 29-year-old said in a video tweeted by the LTA.

"It was the first place that I won a title after I came back from my injury. I always have the best time there and I hope next year I will see you on the beautiful grass courts."

While Kvitova will not take part, world number three Karolina Pliskova, along with US open champion Naomi Osaka and French Open winner Ashleigh Barty will all play in the event, which begins on 15 June and serves as a warm-up for Wimbledon, which starts on July 1.

Naomi Osaka will retain her world number one status after Karolina Pliskova followed Kiki Bertens, Petra Kvitova and Angelique Kerber out of the French Open.

Second seed Pliskova was the last of the four players who had a shot at overhauling Osaka left in the draw when she stepped onto Court Philippe-Chatrier to face Petra Martic on Friday.

The Czech needed to reach the final to keep her hopes of returning to the top of the rankings alive but fell to a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the impressive Martic.

Bertens, who also required at least a place in the tournament decider to move ahead of Osaka, fell out of the running when she retired from her second-round meeting with Viktoria Kuzmova due to illness.

Kvitova needed to win the title to have any chance of taking the number one spot, but she withdrew ahead of her first-round match against Sorana Cirstea with a left arm injury.

Kerber's hopes rested on winning La Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen and a surprise defeat to Anastasia Potapova in the first round brought an end to those aspirations in Paris.

Third seed Simona Halep remains in the competition but as the defending champion she cannot add to her tally of ranking points.

Osaka takes on the unseeded Katerina Siniakova in round three on Saturday.

Kiki Bertens' comfortable progress from round one of the French Open was in contrast to Serena Williams' struggles, while teenager Diane Parry thrilled the Roland Garros locals with her win on Monday.

The in-form Bertens, a champion in Madrid this month, ousted home favourite Pauline Parmentier 6-3 6-4 in Paris.

Three-time champion Williams was off form in her opening set against Vitalia Diatchenko before recovering to triumph 2-6 6-1 6-0 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Caroline Wozniacki fell at the first hurdle, but 16-year-old's Parry's main-draw debut was the stuff of dreams in the French capital.


BERTENS NOT ENJOYING FAVOURITE TAG

Bertens was in complete control during her 6-3 6-4 defeat of Parmentier and the Dutchwoman is considered among the favourites with many pundits – a tag she is not all together comfortable with.

"It's not really something that I'm enjoying, but, no, I know it's going to be really, really tough [to win] the title here," she said. 

"I'm taking it match by match and then we will see whatever happen here. I know that I can do it, but I also know that I can lose in the next round."


SERENA ROARS AFTER SLOW START

Williams was uncharacteristically poor in her opening set versus Diatchenko and let out an almighty roar after an error early in the second, which coincided with a big upturn in fortunes.

"I was just so frustrated. I just let out this roar and here I am. Yeah, so maybe that helped. Like I said, I have never done that before," she said. 

"Usually I do, but it's after a shot. But this time, it was just like, 'Ahhhh'."


PARRY PUTS MAURESMO LESSON INTO PRACTICE

At 16 years and 281 days old, Parry is the youngest player to win a main-draw match at the French Open this decade.

Her one-handed backhand was a potent weapon in the 6-2 6-4 beating of Vera Lapko, evoking memories of the legendary Amelie Mauresmo, who just so happened to have provided a helping hand.

"It's Amelie Mauresmo that taught me. I love it," she said. "I'm very happy to have a one-handed backhand. I'm one of the very few players to have one, so I stand out thanks to this."


EARLY AU REVOIR FOR WOZNIACKI

Wozniacki (13) bagelled Veronika Kudermetova in the opening set of their tie, but the Russian rebounded to shock her more illustrious opponent 0-6 6-3 6-3.

There was better news for Johanna Konta (26), Ashleigh Barty (8), Donna Vekic (23), Elise Mertens (20), Anastasija Sevastova (12) and Hsieh Su-wei (25), who all progressed, but Julia Goerges (18) bit the dust to Kaia Kanepi.

Petra Kvitova has withdrawn from the French Open ahead of her opening match on Monday due to an arm injury.

Two-time grand slam champion Kvitova had been due to face Sorana Cirstea in the first round, but she announced her "really tough decision" just hours before she was due on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

The world number six retired from her last-16 match at the Internazionali d'Italia earlier this month and revealed on Monday she had been playing through pain in recent weeks.

A scan on Sunday confirmed the Czech star would need to skip Roland Garros.

Kvitova post on Twitter: "I'm so disappointed to have to announce my withdrawal from Roland Garros.

"I've had pain in my left forearm for a few weeks and, last night, an MRI confirmed a grade two tear, which unfortunately could get a lot worse if I play today.

"Two years ago, I made my comeback here at Roland Garros, so I'm truly sad not to be able to play here this year.

"It is a really tough decision to make, but I wish the tournament all the best for a successful event and can't wait to be back in 2020."

Kvitova's best performance at the French Open saw her reach the semi-finals in 2012, where she lost to eventual champion Maria Sharapova.

The 29-year-old was the victim of a career-threatening knife attack in late 2016 but returned to the court and reached the Australian Open final - her first in a major since the incident - earlier this year.

Naomi Osaka won twice at the Internazionali d'Italia on a busy Thursday as Simona Halep played down fears over her fitness following a defeat to Marketa Vondrousova.

Halep had treatment on a leg injury during the third set of a 2-6 7-5 6-3 loss that confirmed Osaka will be the top seed at this year's French Open.

But the Romanian revealed there were no major issues ahead of attempting to defend her title at Roland Garros this month.

"Yesterday, I didn't do much. I had two days off, so it was a little bit tough to get back to this rhythm, very high rhythm," Halep told the WTA Tour.

"Nothing, like, tight or something broken. It's just a little bit of injury, which in a few days is going to be okay, I'm sure."

Vondrousova returned to the court later the same day, beating Daria Kasatkina 7-5 2-6 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals as the tournament caught up following Wednesday's washout.

 

OSAKA AT THE DOUBLE

There was some nice symmetry about Osaka's results, the Japanese beating Dominika Cibulkova and then Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3 6-3.

She will next face the in-form Kiki Bertens, who extended her winning streak to eight matches with victories over Amanda Anisimova and Carla Suarez Navarro, though she needed three sets on each occasion.

In the same half of the draw, Vondrousova goes up against Johanna Konta for a place in the last four.

Konta made it through to the quarters of the event for the first time thanks to triumphs over American duo Sloane Stephens - the seventh seed going out in three sets - and Venus Williams, who had progressed to the last 16 after sister Serena pulled out due to a knee injury.

"I'm playing with a little more variety, a little more awareness and trust in my ability to do different things," Konta told the WTA Tour. [I'm] trying to use that in the right proportion during matches."

 

KVITOVA, MUGURUZA RETIRE IN ROME

Petra Kvitova was forced to cut short her clash with Maria Sakkari when trailing 4-0 in the deciding set, the second seed retiring following treatment on a left calf injury during a medical timeout.

Kvitova showed no concerns during her earlier clash with Yulia Putintseva, however, as she breezed to a 6-0 6-1 result in 54 minutes.

Sakkari will go up against Kristina Mladenovic following the latter's 6-2 6-3 triumph over eighth seed Ashleigh Barty.

Karolina Pliskova survived a scare against Sofia Kenin, though, the fourth seed rallying from a set and a break down to eventually oust the American.

Her opponent will be Victoria Azarenka, who was 6-4 3-1 up against Garbine Muguruza when her opponent retired due to a left thigh injury. 

Simona Halep delivered her fourth bagel of the Madrid Open en route to securing a place in the final by beating Belinda Bencic in three sets.

Halep will regain the world number one ranking if she triumphs at Caja Magica and is a win away from doing so after coming through a testing encounter with Bencic 6-2 6-7 (2-7) 6-0.

It looked as if it would be a routine victory for Halep, champion in Madrid in 2016 and 2017, after she took the first set 6-2. However, a back-and-forth second went in favour of Bencic, who was making her first semi-final appearance on clay since 2014, the Swiss forcing a decider with a dominant tie-break.

Yet Bencic's momentum completely disappeared in the third as she became the third player in this tournament to be shut out in a set by Halep, who dished out a bagel against Margarita Gasparyan and two in her demolition of Viktoria Kuzmova.

"I think I was rushing a lot in the tie-break, the first point, and when I saw it was 4-0, I lost confidence a little bit," French Open champion Halep said. "But then I just repeated to my head that the match is starting now, so I have just to focus on the last set, not thinking anymore about the second set.

"All the time when I come to the clay court season, there is an extra motivation and I feel better."

She will face Kiki Bertens, last year's beaten finalist, in the showpiece after the Dutchwoman saw off Sloane Stephens in straight sets.

Bertens was in control throughout the first set and demonstrated fighting spirit that should serve her well in the final to come from a break down in the second, winning five of the next six games to progress 6-2 7-5.

"I know it's going to be a tough battle. I'm ready for it," Bertens said of her final with Halep. "I think I learned a lot from last year [a defeat to Petra Kvitova] – for sure, I will go for it."

Simona Halep took a huge stride towards a return to world number one on Thursday as she advanced at the WTA Madrid Open, while top-ranked Naomi Osaka was beaten.

Osaka has struggled to convinced since taking the number one spot with a second consecutive grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, while clay-court specialist Halep is in top form in Spain.

And Halep now knows she will replace Osaka at the summit if she triumphs this week, having seen the Japanese beaten by Belinda Bencic in three sets.

Romanian star Halep, meanwhile, took down Ashleigh Barty 7-5 7-5 to set up a meeting with Bencic.

The other semi-final will be between Kiki Bertens and Sloane Stephens, with second seed and defending champion Petra Kvitova absent after she was blown away by the former in the day's late match.

Stephens defeated Petra Martic in straight sets to move into her first semi-final of the 2019 WTA Tour season.

 

HALEP 'NOT YET 100 PER CENT'

She has been in fine form this week and could be going back to number one, but Halep is still feeling the effects of the hip injury that kept her out of the Stuttgart Open.

"I'm not yet 100 per cent," she told a news conference. "I have one more day of treatment to take, so the energy is not at 100 per cent. But, as we saw, I played very well.

"Maybe it's because I was relaxed and had no expectations - it's always like this. To play the semi-finals here is a very good result for me coming after the disappointment in Fed Cup."

OSAKA DISTRACTED IN DEFEAT

Osaka admitted that the thought of losing her top ranking might have contributed to her defeat.

"I think I was just thinking about too many things," she said. "I wanted to win this match so much.

"Of course, I wanted to win the Australian Open and the US Open, but, for me, I wanted to win this match more because she beat me already before and I just didn't want to lose twice in a row.

"Also people have been telling me, if I get to the semis here, of course I can stay number one. So I wanted to do that and I was thinking about that while I was playing, which wasn't necessarily a good thing."

NO HISTORY FOR KVITOVA

Kvitova, who triumphed last year, was looking to become the first WTA player to win the same Premier Mandatory tournament four times this week.

But it is Bertens who will instead face Stephens, catching Kvitova cold after three prior straight-sets victories. The Dutch star ran out a 6-2 6-3 winner.

"I'll have a game plan and try to figure it out with my coach," Stephens said. "Obviously it's a big occasion, a semi-final."

A star-studded line-up will contest the Madrid Open quarter-finals after a day for the favourites to savour.

Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep have each won two of the last four titles in the Spanish capital and both are still in the running in 2019.

But it is a stacked field, with world number one Naomi Osaka also in the mix at the event.

Halep enjoyed the most impressive result on Wednesday with a dominant double-bagel thrashing of Viktoria Kuzmova.

FAMILIAR FACES IN THE HUNT

Reigning champion Kvitova won her third Madrid Open title last year, beating Kiki Bertens in the final.

She will take on the Dutchwoman again in the last eight after defeating Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-3.

Halep was at her imperious best against world number 46 Kuzmova, dropping just 12 points in a 44-minute contest.

"I played nearly perfect," said a delighted Halep.

That could spell trouble for Ashleigh Barty, with the ninth seed next in line for Halep.

Barty needed three sets to get past Yulia Putintseva 4-6 6-1 6-2, while Bertens comfortably saw off Anastasija Sevastova 6-1 6-2.

 

OSAKA 'HAVING FUN AGAIN'

Top seed Osaka set up a clash with Belinda Bencic by defeating Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-3.

But it was the way she felt on court that proved the main talking point afterwards.

She explained: "I'm at a really good place right now, and I don't know, I feel like I'm having fun playing tennis again, which is always a good thing for me and I always play well if I have that mentality."

Bencic, meanwhile, thrashed Kateryna Kozlova 6-0 6-2.

DOING IT HER SLOANE WAY

Sloane Stephens' progress was anything but serene as the American had to fight back from a set down to oust Zheng Saisai.

The 2018 French Open runner-up turned the tide after losing the opener to triumph 3-6 6-3 6-2.

Stephens, seeded eighth in Spain, will meet Petra Martic, who saw her compatriot Donna Vekic retire due to a right hip injury in the third set of their all-Croatian tie.

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.

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