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.

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.

Svetlana Kuznetsova fought back for the second match running to down home favourite Timea Bacsinszky 5-7 6-3 6-4 and punch a ticket to the last eight of the Ladies Open Lugano.

The veteran two-time grand slam champion, playing a first tournament since September, needed three sets to defeat Ekaterina Alexandrova in round one and was taken the distance again by the Swiss in a match held over from Wednesday due to rain.

It could have been a more serene victory had she capitalised on a pair of breaks in the opening set but Bacsinszky rallied to take the advantage and broke again to lead in the second.

However, Kuznetsova won four straight games from 2-1 down before levelling the match and took the only break of a tight decider in game three to reach the quarter-finals.

Stefanie Voegele saw out her contest with Viktorija Golubic 6-1 6-1 having led 3-0 before rain stopped play on Wednesday.

Kristyna Pliskova was a 6-2 6-4 victor over Antonia Lottner, while Vera Lapko, Iga Swiatek and Veronika Kudermetova also progressed to the last eight.

Polona Hercog produced another rousing comeback at the Ladies Open Lugano to beat Sorana Cirstea 3-6 7-6 (7-0) 6-4 on Wednesday.

Hercog had battled back from a set down to beat second seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the opening round, and she faced another uphill challenge against Cirstea.

Two early breaks saw Cirstea take control of the opening set at 5-1 but Hercog came back and led 3-2 in the second when rain brought a brief delay.

On resumption, Hercog went on to level the match in emphatic fashion in a tie-break before edging the decider to progress to the quarter-finals.

Fiona Ferro is also through to the last eight after knocking fourth seed Alison van Uytvanck out in straight sets, but the day's remaining second round matches fell foul of the weather.

Viktorija Golubic and Stefanie Voegele managed three games – all won by the latter – before play was cancelled, while Timea Bacsinszky and Svetlana Kuznetsova never made it onto court.

Earlier in the day the first round was completed with Veronika Kudermetova's 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-2) win over Jil Teichmann. Kudermetova will meet Rebecca Peterson next.

Svetlana Kuznetsova marked her return to the WTA Tour with a fine comeback to beat Ekaterina Alexandrova in the first round of the Ladies Open Lugano.

The two-time grand slam champion has been out since September because of a knee injury and appeared poised for defeat in her first match back.

She lost the first set to her Russian compatriot but the 33-year-old's clay-court prowess came to the fore and Kuznetsova took the second set in emphatic fashion.

A frenetic decider went to a tie-break, in which Kuznetsova surged into a 6-2 lead. Alexandrova saved four successive match points but consecutive unforced errors - which took her tally for the match to 70 - allowed Kuznetsova to triumph 3-6 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

Though sixth seed Alexandrova tumbled out, fourth seed Alison Van Uytvanck survived a scare, recovering after a second-set bagel to prevail 6-2 0-6 6-4 against Tereza Smitkova.

Monday's two other main draw matches also went the distance. Sorana Cirstea fought back from a set down to see off Mona Barthel and Viktorija Golubic did the same in her match with Arantxa Rus.

Simona Halep made a first-round exit at the US Open, as Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens progressed on Monday.

Halep became the first top-seeded woman to lose in the first round at Flushing Meadows with her defeat to Kaia Kanepi. 

Serena Williams bowed out in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday, as Carolina Garcia progressed from a demanding tie and Karolina Pliskova ended a long losing record.

Stan Wawrinka, Victoria Azarenka and Svetlana Kuznetsova are among the players to have been handed wildcards for this year's US Open.

Serena Williams fired an ominous warning to the rest of the Cincinnati Masters field with a crushing victory over Daria Gavrilova, while Victoria Azarenka progressed on Monday.

Svetlana Kuznetsova staged a stunning rally against Donna Vekic by fending off four match points to claim the WTA Citi Open.

Mihaela Buzarnescu has her eyes on more than one prize on Sunday, knowing that victory over Maria Sakkari in the Silicon Valley Classic final will lift her into the world's top 20.

Magda Linette defeated third seed Naomi Osaka in three sets at the Citi Open in Washington on Thursday, as seeds Yulia Putintseva and Donna Vekic progressed to the quarter-finals.

Svetlana Kuznetsova claimed a confidence-boosting win at the WTA Citi Open after earning her first hard-court victory in almost a year, while fifth seed Aleksandra Krunic was sent packing.

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