Fourth seed Kiki Bertens has withdrawn from the French Open due to illness.

The world number four from the Netherlands was 3-1 down in her second-round match against Viktoria Kuzmova on Court Philippe-Chatrier when she opted to retire.

Bertens was seen as a contender to win a first grand slam at Roland Garros but made an early exit on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old beat Simona Halep - the defending champion in Paris - at the Madrid Open final this month to claim her second title of an impressive season.

Bertens was among the women who could have replaced Naomi Osaka at the top of the world rankings.

Unseeded Slovakian Kuzmova will face Johanna Konta or Lauren Davis in what will be her first third-round encounter at a major. 

Simona Halep demolished Viktoria Kuzmova as she raced into the Madrid Open quarter-finals with a ruthless double-bagel victory on Manolo Santana on Wednesday.

Former world number one Halep obliterated the unseeded Kuzmova 6-0 6-0 in just 44 minutes, dropping just six points on serve in a clinical display in the Spanish capital.

It is just the second time the two-time Madrid champion, seeded third, has pulled off a double bagel on the WTA Tour and her reward will be a last-eight clash against Ashleigh Barty or Yulia Putintseva.

Kuzmova, 20, won just 12 points in the entire match and was broken to love twice in succession in the second set as she was completely outclassed.

The Slovakian was successful with just 37 per cent of her first serves and won just six points behind it across a dismal display.

Kuzmova also committed 18 unforced errors as Halep claimed her first double bagel since sealing the Bucharest Open title against Anastasija Sevastova in July 2016.

Halep's ferocious start was unchecked by an early pause in play to close the roof due to rain, and she felt the conditions ended up benefitting her.

"[The roof] was good for me because the game was faster and I could play my best style. I think everything went very well for me today. I felt the ball, every single shot," Halep said in an on-court interview.

"I don't think it was [Kuzmova's] best match. Maybe she was nervous before the match a little bit. It's a big tournament and it's not easy to face the top players. I've been in that position. I played my best tennis and I felt good on court.

"I have doubles today [so] I will have to play a little bit more, but it's a good day and I've started well. To be back in the quarter-finals in this tournament means a lot to me."

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Belinda Bencic and Petra Kvitova will be pleased to have been in opposite halves of the draw after both secured impressive wins at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

The semi-final line-up for the Premier 5 event was confirmed on Thursday, with Bencic's battling victory over former world number one Simona Halep providing a highlight of the day's play.

While the Swiss had to come from a set down, Kvitova's progress was much more serene and included a second-set bagel.

The Australian Open finalist will now face Hsieh Su-wei, while reigning champion Elina Svitolina is up next for Bencic.

 

BENCIC THE COMEBACK QUEEN

In her win over Aryna Sabalenka in the previous round, world number 45 Bencic saved six match points.

She did not sail quite so close to the wind against French Open champion Halep, but still had to overcome the odds to record a 4-6 6-4 6-2 success.

Halep, who had not dropped a set en route to the last eight, was broken in her opening service game of each set as her Dubai dreams were ended by a player ranked 44 places below her.

 

RUTHLESS KVITOVA OVERPOWERS KUZMOVA

Kvitova was mightily impressive in her dominant 6-4 6-0 triumph over Victoria Kuzmova.

The second seed, who won the second set in just 25 minutes, adopted a ruthless approach to get the job done.

She said: "I didn't give her any time to do her job [and] maybe turn the match her way."

HSIEH STUNS PLISKOVA

Hsieh was another player on the comeback trail on Thursday, digging deep at 5-1 down in the decider to see off world number five Karolina Pliskova.

The 33-year-old looked to have completely lost her way after losing the second set 6-1, having taken the first 6-4, particularly when she fell a double break down in the third.

But it was in that most testing of circumstances that she was able to find the answers.

"Second set I was slowing down a little bit, so it's not a good sign," said Hsieh. "I still make some mistakes, but I'm glad that I keep trying, keep trying, keep trying. Finally it worked, so I survived."

 

SEMIS AGAIN FOR SVITOLINA 

This is the fourth year running Svitolina has reached the last four of this tournament, where she is eyeing a third title in a row.

The sixth seed defeated Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-3 to maintain her bid to become the first woman to take the crown three years on the bounce.

Both Justine Henin and Venus Williams have their names etched on the trophy three or more times, but neither managed the hat-trick of consecutive triumphs that the Ukrainian is chasing. 

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.

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