Madison Keys sealed a place in her first hardcourt final since the 2017 US Open with a 7-5 6-4 win over compatriot Sofia Kenin at the Western & Southern Open on Saturday.

Keys hit a superb 41 winners in the all-American clash to book a final showdown with Svetlana Kuznetsova, who produced a dominant performance to see off world number two Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in Cincinnati.

Kenin saved set point in the opener against Keys before battling back from 5-2 down to 5-5, only for the world number 16 to claim back-to-back games and avert a tiebreak at the WTA Premier event.

Keys was twice a break down in the second set but combined grit with blistering attacking play to down Kenin, avenging a three-set loss in Rome earlier this year.

Kuznetsova is currently down at 153 in the world rankings after periods on the sidelines but has made the most of her wildcard in Cincinnati.

Despite slipping to 2-0 down in the opener, the two-time grand slam champion clicked into gear spectacularly and reeled off eight consecutive games – a forehand return winner on break point to go 5-2 up a particular highlight.

Barty belatedly held for 1-2 in the second to stop the rot but would never another good look at her opponent's serve. Indeed, Kuznetsova avoided giving up break point opportunities in any of her last eight service games.

The result prevented Barty from returning to number one in the WTA rankings after Naomi Osaka was forced to withdraw due to a knee injury in the quarter-finals.

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.

Serena Williams survived a scare before getting past Marie Bouzkova in the Rogers Cup semi-finals on Saturday.

The American great made another slow start at the WTA Premier event, but again recovered to reach the final courtesy of a 1-6 6-3 6-3 victory over Czech qualifier Bouzkova.

Williams moved into her 96th WTA Tour final and fifth at the Rogers Cup, where she is a three-time champion and will face Bianca Andreescu in the decider in Toronto.

But the 23-time grand slam winner looked in trouble early, dropping her first set of the tournament against the 21-year-old Bouzkova.

Williams committed 18 unforced errors in the first set, a backhand into the bottom of the net seeing her drop the opener.

Needing a response, Williams broke in the seventh game of the second set, crushing a forehand return winner on her way to winning the final four games of the set.

Bouzkova threatened to land the first blow of the decider, but Williams saved three break points in the third game.

That would prove to be crucial as she broke in the following game, taking a 3-1 lead she would not relinquish.

Andreescu awaits in the final after the 19-year-old Canadian overcame Sofia Kenin 6-4 7-6 (7-5) in the day's earlier semi.

She became the first Canadian to reach the women's singles final at the modern Rogers Cup and first since 1969, when the event was called the Canadian Open.

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.

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.

Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka eased into the Silicon Valley Classic quarter-finals on a good day for the seeds.

Svitolina, the top seed at the WTA Premier event in San Jose, was untroubled by Daria Kasatkina in a 6-3 6-1 victory on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian is enjoying another fine year and her last-eight clash with Maria Sakkari will mark her sixth quarter-final of 2019 and she has won four of the previous five.

Sakkari, the seventh seed, was tested before getting past qualifier Mayo Hibi 4-6 6-4 6-2 at the hard-court tournament in California.

The second-seeded Sabalenka ended Coco Vandeweghe's first tournament of the year courtesy of a 6-3 6-3 victory.

Former world number nine Vandeweghe was making her return from ankle and foot injuries.

It was four from four for the seeds, with Carla Suarez Navarro beating Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6 6-1 6-2.

At the Citi Open, the only two seeds in action – Sofia Kenin and Monica Puig – departed.

Kenin went down to fellow American Lauren Davis 5-7 6-3 6-4 and Puig lost to qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 2-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

Kristina Mladenovic edged 17-year-old wildcard Hailey Baptiste 6-4 4-6 6-3 and Jessica Pegula overcame Iga Swiatek 5-7 6-4 6-1.

American Sofia Kenin saved three championship points to win an exciting WTA Mallorca Open final in three sets on Sunday.

In a tight tussle that lasted close to three hours, Kenin eventually saw off Belinda Bencic to win 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

After winning the first set, Bencic served for the match at 5-4 in the second but squandered several chances to win the tournament.

And Kenin made her pay, edging a tie-break before holding on in a tense final set.

"This is my special tournament and I'm going to keep coming back here for many more years to come," a delighted Kenin said afterwards.

The win was just the second title in the 20-year-old's career, a promising sign ahead of Wimbledon.

Kenin also has some grand slam form on her side, having beaten Serena Williams at the French Open, before being knocked out by eventual champion Ashleigh Barty in the fourth round.

Bencic was left to rue 13 double faults, one of which came on her third match point.

Bencic - ranked 13th in the world, 17 places above Kenin - made a brilliant start, though, racing to a 3-0 lead in the first set.

Kenin won the next four games, to take a 4-3 lead, but then was broken herself as Bencic edged a see-sawing opener.

In stark contrast to the first set, the second saw no breaks, not even a break point, until Bencic broke to love to move in front 5-4.

And even though she dropped the first two points of her service game, Bencic still had three chances to win the title after recovering impressively.

Kenin dug deep, though, holding her nerve to eventually break serve.

She would go on to force a tie-break and won six of the first eight points before levelling the match.

Kenin then produced the only break of the third set in the ninth game, to take a 5-4 lead, before she comfortably served out for victory.

Anastasija Sevastova's bid to reach a fourth consecutive Mallorca Open final fell short as Sofia Kenin prevailed over three sets in the last four.

World number 12 Sevastova won this WTA International tournament two years ago, a victory sandwiched by defeats to Caroline Garcia and Tatjana Maria in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

But her record of reaching every final since the event's inception came to an end on Saturday as Kenin won 6-4 4-6 6-2 to advance to a showdown with Belinda Bencic.

Having broken for a 2-1 lead in the first, Kenin saw three set points go begging on the Sevastova serve at 5-3, but a subsequent hold saw her edge in front before the American again took the early initiative in the second.

Sevastova roared back from 4-2 down, though, reeling off four straight games to force a decider. Kenin swiftly rediscovered her poise and raced 4-0 ahead before securing a place in her third Tour final of 2019.

Awaiting her there is Bencic, who fought back from a set down to defeat reigning Wimbledon champion and top seed Angelique Kerber 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

The German eased through the opener thanks to a pair of breaks and, after both women dropped serve in successive games towards the end of the second, Bencic surged clear in the tie-break, winning five straight points from 2-2.

Having rescued three break chances in her first service game of the decider, world number 13 Bencic broke Kerber immediately and that advantage proved enough to see her through to her second final of the year, having triumphed at the Dubai Tennis Championships in February.

Elise Mertens dropped just four games as she eased past Andrea Petkovic at the Mallorca Open, with Sofia Kenin and Belinda Bencic also making it through to round two.

Fourth seed Mertens had a first-serve percentage of just 47, though it did not hamper her as she saw off Petkovic 6-2 6-2, converting match point at the third time of asking.

"I just felt good today and for my first match on grass," Mertens said in quotes published on the WTA's website. 

"I was a little bit nervous to get the win, but I'm really happy to get it."

Kenin, who beat Serena Williams at the French Open but was knocked out by eventual champion Ashleigh Barty in the last 16, defeated Mertens' Belgian compatriot Kirsten Flipkens 6-2 6-3.

Bencic, the third seed in Mallorca, secured a 7-5 6-4 success over Rebecca Peterson.

Amanda Anisimova is enjoying an outstanding run at the French Open, yet she would be willing to risk it all for a picture with rapper Drake.

Toronto Raptors super fan Drake, a constant feature of the NBA Finals, has garnered a reputation for 'cursing' sports stars by posing for photographs ahead of big events.

While the Raptors are still holding their own, heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua was the latest athlete to be jinxed, posting a picture with the Canadian before losing to Andy Ruiz Jr.

Yet Anisimova would not turn down the opportunity to get her own Drake picture.

The 17-year-old American moved into the last eight at Roland Garros with a dominant victory over Aliona Bolsova on Monday, after which she was asked about her musical idol.

"I was thinking about it [the 'jinx']," she told a news conference. "I was like, 'Oh my god'.

"Yeah, I would [get a picture]. I wanted to meet him for so long. It's okay - I'm not that superstitious."

Anisimova will play defending champion Simona Halep next, who also eased through on a day that saw three bagels across just four matches in the women's draw.

SWIATEK GIVEN TOUGH EDUCATION

Polish prospect Iga Swiatek, exactly three months older than Anisimova, was the unfortunate player who faced Halep on Monday, claiming one game as she was beaten in just 45 minutes.

Swiatek later confirmed she would now head back to school, but she hoped she would be able to learn from facing one of the world's finest.

"It's a good experience for me - and I'll remember that match," she said. "I'll learn from it, even though it lasted, like, 40 minutes."

 

BARTY READY FOR A CRICKET WORLD CUP PARTY

Ashleigh Barty had too much for Sofia Kenin, winning 6-3 3-6 6-0, and can look forward to a day out of action. Her pastime? Watching more sport. The Cricket World Cup was on her mind more than the State of Origin, though.

"I kind of forgot about Origin, actually," she said. "But I think, more than anything, I have a day off tomorrow to watch a bit of the World Cup, which will be good.

"We'll all have a streaming site up there somewhere to keep an eye on it."

She will then return her focus to Madison Keys, who defeated Katerina Siniakova in straight sets.

BIG CONQUERORS CRASH OUT

Although Kenin and Siniakova landed two of the biggest results of the tournament when they dumped out Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka respectively, neither could reach the last eight.

But Kenin was positive, explaining: "Of course there are obviously a lot of improvements I can do. And I'm young, I'm 20, playing at the big stages. I think it's great, a great opportunity for me, just getting my name out there."

Siniakova added: "It's tough every time. Every match is different, and it showed in this match [against Keys]. I was really playing well these four matches and today I just wasn't solid enough for her."

World number one Naomi Osaka and 23-time major winner Serena Williams were the big names to suffer elimination from the French Open on Saturday.

Osaka was beaten 6-4 6-2 by Katerina Siniakova as her quest to win a third grand slam in succession came to an end, while Williams fell to fellow American representative Sofia Kenin 6-2 7-5.

There were no such problems for reigning champion Simona Halep, who is the highest seed left in the draw after overcoming Lesia Tsurenko 6-2 6-1 in just 55 minutes.

Eighth seed Ashleigh Barty will face Kenin following a 6-3 6-1 triumph over Andrea Petkovic, and there were also straight-sets win for 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova and Aliona Bolsova, who will meet in round four after overcoming Irina-Camelia Begu 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 and Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 7-5 respectively.

Madison Keys overcame Anna Blinkova 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 to advance to a clash with Siniakova, and teenager Iga Swiatek recovered from being bagelled in her first set to win 0-6 6-3 6-3 and set up a match with Halep.

 

OSAKA OUT

Osaka was guaranteed to hold on to her position at the top of the rankings after Karolina Pliskova exited at the hands of Petra Martic on Friday, but 24 hours later the Japanese was on her way out too.

The US Open and Australian Open champion had to come from behind to beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Victoria Azarenka in her opening two matches and she could not do it a third time.

Osaka suggested the pressure of entering Roland Garros as the world number one made it difficult for her to play with the same freedom.

"I think this tournament I have had a feeling that was different to the other grand slams that I have played, because usually I find it very freeing and fun, and this time around I was kind of tense the entire time," said Osaka.

 

GRAND SLAM TITLE 24 REMAINS ELUSIVE

Williams' hopes of emulating Margaret Court at Roland Garros by winning a 24th grand slam title were dashed by Kenin.

Kenin performed brilliantly to reach the last 16 of a major for the first time in her career, meaning Wimbledon is Williams' next chance of getting the record-equalling piece of silverware.

Having struggled with a left knee injury in recent months, Williams admitted she feels short of matches and is considering playing on grass in the lead-up to Wimbledon for the first time since featuring at Eastbourne in 2011.

 

NO WORRIES FOR HALEP

Halep may have flown past Tsurenko but she suffered three breaks of serve in doing so. However, the reigning champion was not overly concerned and was pleased to get the job done so quickly.

"I was not worried, because losing my serve is happening often," Halep said with a smile. "I'm very confident on my return, so I didn't think something negative. I just looked forward for the next point.

"I expected a tough one, because I was always in trouble in the second set when I played against her.

"I think today was a better match. I played better. And I felt better on court."

Serena Williams feels short of matches and is considering taking a grass-court wildcard to improve her conditioning ahead of Wimbledon.

The former world number one's quest to match Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major titles took a hit with a surprise 6-2 7-5 third-round defeat to Sofia Kenin at the French Open on Saturday.

The 37-year-old has been struggling with a left knee injury in recent months and had to withdraw from the Miami Open and Internazionali d'Italia, while a viral illness led to her retiring from a third-round match against Garbine Muguruza at Indian Wells.

Williams has played just 12 matches this year and is open to taking to grass before Wimbledon, where she last year made her first grand slam appearance after the birth of her daughter and lost to Angelique Kerber in the final, for the first time since Eastbourne in 2011.

"I'm definitely feeling short on matches, and just getting in the swing of things. I don't really like playing out points when I practice," said Williams.

"I have some time on my hands, so maybe I'll jump in and get a wildcard on one of these grass-court events and see what happens."

Asked how far away she feels from her optimum condition and whether she will be ready for Wimbledon, Williams said: "I'm pretty far away [from top shape], but the optimistic part is I haven't been able to be on the court as much as I would have. That's okay. At least I can start trying to put the time in now.

"I hope [I'll be peak condition for Wimbledon]. I'm still working on it and working on getting there. I think it will be enough time. We'll see, but I definitely hope so."

Kenin produced a string of fine groundstrokes to break twice in the first set and Williams suggested there was little she could have done in response.

"I think she played really well. I feel like she, in that first set in particular, she hit pretty much inches from the line, and I haven't played anyone like that in a long time," she said. "She actually played really well.

"I just think that the player I played today, she just played literally unbelievable. She really went out there today and did great."

Serena Williams' wait for a record-equalling 24th major title continues after she fell to a 6-2 7-5 defeat to the impressive Sofia Kenin in the third round of the French Open on Saturday.

Former world number one Williams was pulled all over the court by high-quality groundstrokes from Kenin, who received a walkover in round two when Bianca Andreescu withdrew due to a shoulder injury in the opening set.

Williams, who has been struggling with a left knee problem, let out huge roars as she attempted to work her way back into the match.

However, despite having the crowd on Court Philippe-Chatrier firmly behind her, the 37-year-old was unable to turn the tide against her fellow American and remains one major title short of matching Margaret Court's all-time record.

Williams pulled out a couple of aces as she denied Kenin on three break points, but a sublime drop shot in game five saw her lose her footing and fall behind.

The 10th seed missed a chance to hit straight back and was two breaks down when her Moscow-born opponent wrongfooted her with an exceptional forehand into the corner.

Kenin thought she had the first set wrapped up when Williams produced a long return, but her serve was called wide. However, she staved off a break point and another fine forehand preceded Williams netting a return to surrender the opener.

The world number 35 broke to love at the start of the second set and kept a fired-up Williams - a three-time champion at Roland Garros - at bay to consolidate.

Kenin was whistled for kicking the mark left by a cross-court backhand that just clipped the line and set up a break point for Williams, who was soon back on serve.

Boos rang out when Kenin questioned another line call but she was in position to serve out the match after a sensational forehand return in game 11.

Williams miscued wide on a chance to break back, while Kenin found the net on her first match point.

A long backhand brought about the end for Williams, with an emotional Kenin advancing to the last 16 of a grand slam for the first time, with Ashleigh Barty standing between her and a place in the quarter-finals.

Serena Williams refused to offer an explanation about an image of her in a wheelchair that was shared on social media prior to the start of the French Open.

Former world number one Williams is struggling with a left knee injury – she played just one match on clay prior to arriving at Roland Garros – and was pictured in the chair while out with her family.

The 23-time grand slam champion, who had to fight from a set down to defeat Vitalia Diatchenko in round one on Monday, was not forthcoming when asked about the photo following her straight-sets victory over Kurumi Nara three days later.

"I'm not going to get into that. I'm playing, and all's good," said Williams, before adding that her knee felt "okay".

Williams faces fellow American Sofia Kenin in the third round and, despite admitting to feeling a little rusty, has no doubt her condition will only continue to improve.

"I have had a tough year since I twisted my ankle in Australia. It's just been really tough after that," she said.

"So everything definitely feels a little bit harder than normal, but at the same time, I know that it's going to get better."

On Kenin, she added: "I know her game really well. She had a really great run in Australia, and I have been watching her. I think it will be a good match.

"She has a lot to bring to the table. She has a lot of excitement and she's a good player. She's so young, and she's such a good player. I'm actually looking forward to that match."

Serena Williams made light work of Kurumi Nara to move into the third round of the French Open in straight sets on Thursday.

The 23-time grand slam champion was not quite at her clinical best, letting a series of early break-point opportunities go, but her progression never looked to be in doubt in a 6-3 6-2 victory.

There were certainly no signs of the difficulties Williams had endured when recovering from a set down to defeat Vitalia Diatchenko last time out, with Nara no match for the 10th seed.

Court Philippe-Chatrier was conquered again and Williams can look forward to a meeting with 20-year-old compatriot Sofia Kenin, who was granted a walkover by Bianca Andreescu's withdrawal.

There were no chances for either player until a marathon sixth game in which an increasingly frustrated Williams expertly forged six openings but failed to capitalise on any of them.

However, the pressure finally told when Nara served again as a stunning return saw Williams move in front, before she followed up with a confident hold to clinch the set.

And the three-time champion in Paris took her form into the second to deliver an early break, securing complete control of the contest.

A stunning unorthodox lob picked out the corner of the court to set up a further break point and Williams was well clear as she converted with another devastating return.

There was no letting up from the 37-year-old, who went after Nara again in pursuit of a third consecutive break, falling short but then stylishly holding to cruise through to the last 32.


STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN

Serena Williams [10] bt Kurumi Nara 6-3 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Williams - 36/21
Nara - 11/4

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Williams - 10/0
Nara - 2/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Williams - 3/12
Nara - 0/0

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE

Williams - 73
Nara - 76

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE

Williams - 84/66
Nara - 51/66

TOTAL POINTS

Williams - 65
Nara - 44

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