Barbora Strycova achieved her best grand slam singles result when she reached the Wimbledon semi-finals, but the Czech is finding it tough to build on last month's unforeseen success.

Strycova lost in the first round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, and after a first-round bye at the Bronx Open this week the 33-year-old bowed out in her opening singles match.

The third seed – long considered a doubles specialist – was beaten 3-6 6-2 6-1 by American wildcard Bernarda Pera at the WTA International tournament played in the most northerly of New York City's five boroughs. The venue is a short drive from Flushing Meadows, which stages the US Open next week.

Italian Camila Giorgi came through a tough encounter with experienced German Andrea Petkovic, grinding out a 3-6 7-5 7-6 (7-3) success.

Fifth seed Katerina Siniakova was on court for just 48 minutes, leading Anastasia Potapova 6-0 3-0 when the Russian qualifier retired.

It was one of two retirements with Zhu Lin also departing while trailing 7-6 (7-5) 4-0 to Alize Cornet.

Serena Williams powered through to an 11th Wimbledon final and to the brink of history as she swept aside Barbora Strycova on Centre Court.

The American, at the age of 37, handed a thumping 6-1 6-2 lesson to Czech Strycova, whose first singles semi-final at a grand slam proved distinctly one-sided.

Victory for Williams sets up a shot at a record-equalling 24th grand slam title, with Romanian Simona Halep the player standing in her way of matching Australian Margaret Court's all-time tally in Saturday's final.

Williams, hunting an eighth Wimbledon crown, said: "It definitely feels good to be back in the final."

Strycova was making her own history, at 33 becoming the oldest first-time women's singles semi-finalist in an open era grand slam.

But her pre-match mention of having nothing to fear invited the suspicion that she thought it was a different Serena Williams on the other side of the net; not the women who had beaten her in three previous grand slam matches without dropping a set.

And rather than having nothing to lose, as Strycova ventured, this was unquestionably the greatest opportunity of her career.

Privately, she would surely have acknowledged that, and perhaps feared her crafty game would be picked apart.

Talking about combating Williams, and turning an all-to-gain mentality into points on the board, has always been different to the harsh reality.

And after finding her feel for the contest, Williams broke in the fourth game, creaming a crosscourt forehand past Strycova at the net.

Williams then held serve to love in a flash, helped by a pair of aces, broke again after setting up the chance with a fizzing backhand down the line, and took the opening set with a perfect drop volley followed by an ace out wide.

Breaks in the fifth and seventh games of the second set confirmed the gulf between this unlikely semi-final pairing, with Williams sealing victory when Strycova could only poke a serve back over the net and watch it returned with interest into an empty court.

Williams won her 23rd grand slam title in Australia two and a half years ago, since when she has married and become a mother.

The wait for the 24th slam has included defeats in the Wimbledon and US Open finals last year, and now Halep awaits her in another All England Club final.

It has a similar feel to last year's title match, when German left-hander Angelique Kerber was written off by many yet beat Williams with some comfort.

Halep brushed aside Elina Svitolina 6-1 6-3 earlier in the day, and Williams said: "She's tough. She played unbelievable today. We've played on grass before and we've always had good matches. I look forward to it."


STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN

Serena Williams [11] bt Barbora Strycova 6-1 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Williams – 27/10
Strycova – 8/10

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Williams – 4/1
Strycova – 1/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Williams – 4/5
Strycova – 0/3

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE

Williams - 60
Strycova - 61

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE

Williams – 88/53
Strycova – 52/44

TOTAL POINTS

Williams - 53
Strycova - 31

Johanna Konta was angered by a reporter's "patronising" question following her Wimbledon quarter-final defeat to Barbora Strycova.

World number 18 Konta slipped out in the last eight on Tuesday, going down 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 on Centre Court despite taking a 4-1 lead in the first set.

Strycova will now meet seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams in the semi-finals, with the 11th seed having overcome Alison Riske.

Konta was the clear favourite against Strycova but appeared to lose her composure in the second set as the world number 54 cruised to a convincing victory and a first singles appearance in the last four of a major.

When a reporter suggested she could have performed better on key points, Konta replied: "Is that in your professional tennis opinion?

"I don't think you need to pick on me, in a harsh way. I'm very open with [the media] and I say how I feel out there.

"If you don't want to accept that answer or you don't agree with it that's fine, but I still believe in the tennis I play and still believe in the way I competed."

Asked if she wanted to win a grand slam in the future, Konta said: "Please don't patronise me.

"In the way you're asking your question, you are being quite disrespectful and you are patronising me.

"I'm a professional competitor who did her best today, and that's all there is to that."

However, Konta felt her performance in her French Open semi-final defeat to Marketa Vondrousova in June was of a higher quality.

"I thought I played better in my French semi-final," she said.

"I thought the conditions were a lot trickier in terms of the conditions we played in. There was a lot more wind and things like that. I think that played a factor.

"Player-wise, they're probably a little similar. I mean, slightly different court, as well, different surface. But no, actually I thought I played better there than in this match."

Barbora Strycova earned a Wimbledon semi-final clash with Serena Williams as the Czech doubles specialist stunned British hope Johanna Konta.

On her 53rd singles mission in a grand slam, Strycova has achieved a monumental breakthrough, having only ever previously reached one quarter-final.

She beat Konta 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 on Centre Court, and on Thursday the 33-year-old will tackle Williams, 37, for a place in the final.

Williams has won all three of their past meetings, including a first-round Wimbledon clash seven years ago, without dropping a set. She is also chasing a record-tying 24th grand slam singles triumph.

But arguably she has never played Strycova in such form, with Konta confounded and exasperated by the manner of this defeat.

Konta led 4-1 against the world number 54 in the first set but gave the early break back, and a to-and-fro tie-break looked to be heading the Briton's way once she reeled off three stunning passing shots.

Three times a grand slam semi-finalist, Konta's level dipped to damaging effect at a critical juncture. Defending a set point on her own serve, she ploughed a forehand into the net.

Strycova was full of tricks, executing drop shots with a greater element of surprise than those dispatched from the Konta racket, and showing the deft touch expected of a player ranked third in the world in doubles.

She made an early move in the second set, opening up three break points when a cross-court passing shot wrongfooted Konta. On the second of those points, Konta jabbed a backhand wide and looked bewildered by the state of play.

Konta saved break point in the sixth game with a fine drop volley, only to double-fault and flay a drive volley long and wide to give up the double break.

There was no way back, Konta spearing a backhand long on match point as her title hopes, and British interest in the singles, were vanquished.

Strycova was asked how being a semi-finalist felt and said: "It sounds crazy but it's happening."

She added: "I am extremely happy, and my voice is shaking still right now because I can't believe it.

"I enjoyed it, it was a very special moment for me."

As for facing Williams, she said: "It's a great week to play her and a match I really look forward to playing."

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Barbora Strycova bt Johanna Konta [19] 7-6 (7-5) 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Strycova – 22/9
Konta – 28/34

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Strycova – 4/3
Konta – 3/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Strycova – 3/7
Konta – 1/2

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Strycova - 69
Konta – 62

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Strycova – 67/74
Konta – 51/64

TOTAL POINTS
Strycova - 72
Konta – 56

World number one Ashleigh Barty and Karolina Pliskova crashed out as the women's quarter-final draw opened up at Wimbledon.

Barty went down 3-6 6-2 6-3 in a compelling contest against Alison Riske on No. 2 Court, while Czech Republic's third seed Pliskova went down to compatriot Karolina Muchova 4-6 7-5 13-11 in an epic encounter.

Riske will face Serena Williams – a 6-2 6-2 winner over Carla Suarez Navarro - in an all-American quarter but 15-year-old sensation Cori Gauff had her superb run at SW19 ended by Simona Halep in straight sets.

Halep is now the highest seed left in the draw after Britain's Johanna Konta kept home interest alive with a thrilling 4-6 6-2 6-4 win over world number six Petra Kvitova.
 

BARTY'S HOT STREAK COMES TO AN END

French Open champion Barty had not lost for two months heading into her fourth-round match but had no complaints as Riske turned in a stirring display.

"Overall I didn't play a poor match. When I needed to, when the big moments were there, Alison played better," she said. "Tough one to swallow but I lost to a better player."

Riske is relishing her reward of a showdown with Williams, who she has partnered in Fed Cup doubles.

"I think it's super exciting. I played doubles with Serena, but never played against her. It will be an interesting match," she said.

"I'm ready for a war. She's the greatest athlete I think that's ever been on the women's side. It's going to be a huge challenge."

GAUFF EXIT TOUGH TO STOMACH

Already a favourite at the All England Club, Gauff was unable to overturn the odds once more against the former world number one Halep.

The youngster seemed to be hindered by illness and called for the doctor in the second set.

"I wasn't feeling 100 per cent. I still tried my best. Simona played really well," she said after losing 6-3 6-3.

"I learned a lot. I learned how to play in front of a big crowd. I learned what it was like to be under pressure. I'm really thankful for this experience."
 

KONTA KEEPS HOME FIRES BURNING

Konta will meet veteran Barbora Strycova – a winner in three against Belgium's Elise Mertens - after bringing Centre Court to its feet at the end of a gruelling battle.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova did not go down without a fight, saving two match points and breaking Konta to recover from 5-1 down to make it 5-4 in the decider, but the elated 19th seed finished the job.

"Petra started playing incredibly freely and hitting through the ball. The balls were coming at 100 miles-an-hour to me," Konta, who assuaged fears over the ankle treatment she received during the match, told BBC.

"I'm tremendously grateful to be here. The way I'm competing, I'm really happy with that."

SVITOLINA LANDING BLOWS ON OTHER SIDE OF THE DRAW

China's world number 50 Shuai Zhang is up next for Halep after beating teenager Dayana Yastremska 6-4 1-6 6-2 to reach a first quarter-final since the 2016 Australian Open.

Yastremska's fellow Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, the number eight seed, brushed aside Petra Martic in straight sets to set up a meeting with surprise package Muchova.

A keen boxing fan, Svitolina will be optimistic of sealing semi-final berth and potentially landing a knockout blow on one of the favourites.

"I love watching it. In Ukraine there is great fighters," she said, while pursuing a triumph that could place her alongside the Klitschko brothers and Vasyl Lomachenko in her nation's affections.

"I'm a big fan of [Anthony Joshua]. Unfortunately, [his] last fight wasn't great."

Ashleigh Barty moved within one win of tennis' coveted number one ranking after beating Barbora Strycova in straight sets in the Birmingham Classic semi-finals on Saturday.

Just a fortnight after her breakthrough grand slam success at the French Open, Barty edged closer to another milestone with a 6-4 6-4 win against the world number 51.

She will face German Julia Goerges in Sunday's decider, the German also needing just two sets to see off Petra Martic of Croatia.

In a bizarre twist, Barty and Goerges will play together less than 24 hours before the final, the pair set to meet Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Demi Schuurs in one of two women's doubles semi-finals.

Barty will usurp Naomi Osaka as the new world number one if she beats Goerges, a victory that would see her just become the fifth Australian - man or woman - to top the rankings and the first female in 43 years.

The 23-year-old entered her clash against Strycova on the back of 10 successive wins and she produced the first break in the match's fifth game.

It was not all one-way traffic, though, Barty forced to save break points on three occasions in the opener.

But she served superbly in the second set, firing 10 aces and winning 86 per cent of points on first serve.

Strycova kept things level until 4-4, when she was broken easily, and Barty comfortably served out to secure her spot in the final.

"I served really well in the second set to keep in touch and knew I needed to take my chance when I got one," Barty said afterwards.

"On grass, she is very effective and it was important for me to get on top on my rallies and use my forehand as much as I could."

Goerges' clash with Martic was a similar affair, a tight first set only settled by the one break of serve.

Martic, ranked 25th, just six places below her opponent, was then broken in the first game of the second set only to immediately produce a break of her own.

It set the tone for an exciting set but Goerges eventually prevailed 6-4 6-3.

Andy Murray received offers from prospective mixed doubles partners within minutes of revealing his plans to play the event at Wimbledon.

After missing the tournament last year because of a long-standing hip problem, which he now hopes is behind him, two-time singles champion Murray is planning a return to play only in doubles at the All England Club this year.

He has confirmed Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert as his partner for the men's doubles but is apparently open to suggestions when it comes to the mixed event after being turned down by a number of players.

Murray said new French Open champion Ashleigh Barty was among the players he had approached, without succeeding in finding a partner.

Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, a former singles semi-finalist at Wimbledon, played mixed doubles with Murray at Wimbledon in 2006, and she would relish a reunion.

She wrote on Twitter: "Wimbledon 2006... Wimbledon 2019, @andy_murray ?"

Czech Barbora Strycova, a doubles expert, wrote on Instagram: "Hey, @andymurray I heard rumours that you got rejected by my fellow players a couple of times when finding a partner for mixed doubles in Wimbledon.

"I swear I wouldn't do the same mistake like them. So what do you think?"

American Jennifer Brady joined in the fun, responding to a tweet from tennis journalist Stuart Fraser explaining Murray's mixed doubles pickle by posting a gif of a Minion raising its hands excitedly.

Murray began his comeback in fine style at the Queen's Club Championships on Thursday, teaming up with Spaniard Feliciano Lopez to sink Colombian top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in their opening match.

Murray said after his win, according to the ATP: "A few months ago I had no clue whether I'd be back playing on a court. And to feel as well as I did out there - not perfect, but pain-free - I mean, yeah, I enjoyed it...I feel optimistic about the future."

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty continued her superb form with a straight-sets win over Donna Vekic at the Birmingham Classic.

Fresh from her win at Roland Garros, second seed Barty had little trouble in adapting from clay to grass as she eased through her first-round match 6-3 6-4 on Wednesday.

Barty did have to get through a wobble early on, but soon got into her stride to dispatch Vekic – a beaten finalist at the Nottingham Open.

The 23-year-old Australian conceded four double faults through the first set, but soon recovered thanks to some unforced Vekic errors.

Barty was tested as she looked to close out the win, as Vekic came up with a series of impressive winners to break serve.

But Barty had the win firmly in her sights, and an exceptional double break set up a match point which she duly converted to earn a second-round tie with Jennifer Brady, who won her contest with Lesia Tsurenko 6-3 6-3.

British number one Johanna Konta, however, did not fare as well – the seventh seed dumped out by Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 6-4 in their second-round clash.

Konta reached the semi-finals in Paris, but 2017 French Open winner Ostapenko was too sharp on the grass court midweek.

Petra Martic will be Ostapenko's opponent in the last eight, where they are joined by Kristyna Pliskova, who beat her twin sister and third seed Karolina 6-2 3-6 7-6 (9-7).

Meanwhile, former world number one Venus Williams enjoyed a winning Birmingham debut as she knocked out Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3 6-4 to reach the second round, where she will take on sixth seed Wang Qiang.

Barbora Strycova beat Hsieh Su-wei 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 in Wednesday's other match.

Qualifier Jil Teichmann continued to upset the odds by beating Barbora Strycova to reach a first WTA Tour final at the Prague Open on Friday.

The Swiss left-hander needed just 76 minutes to beat ninth seed Strycova 6-3 6-0 for her best WTA Tour win by ranking and tournament round.

Teichmann had double Strycova's winners (22 to 11), while the Czech failed to convert any of her break-point chances.

Home favourite Karolina Muchova also reached a maiden Tour final by overcoming Bernarda Pera 6-2 7-5 in the other semi-final.

At Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Morocco, Johanna Konta reached a first final in 10 months thanks to a 6-2 7-6 (9-7) triumph over fourth seed and 2018 finalist Ajla Tomljanovic.

Before this week, the Briton had failed to piece together more than two straight WTA main-draw wins on clay.

Maria Sakkari followed up her beating of defending champion Elise Mertens with a 6-4 6-4 triumph over Alison van Uytvanck to book her spot in the final. 

Bernarda Pera put an end to Wang Qiang's hopes of glory in Prague, while Elise Mertens' reign in Rabat came to an end on Thursday.

Pera caused an upset in the last eight of the Prague Open, overcoming third seed Wang 6-0 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 to reach her second semi-final on the WTA Tour.

The American let slip a 5-2 lead in the second set but rallied impressively in the decider to clinch victory. Next up will be Karolina Muchova, who defeated Natalia Vikhlyantseva in straight sets to progress.

Muchova is one of two Czech players through to the last four – she is joined by Barbora Strycova, the ninth seed overcoming her sixth-seeded compatriot Katerina Siniakova, dropping just three games in the process.

Jil Teichmann, meanwhile, made it through to her maiden semi-final by dismissing the challenge of German Tamara Korpatsch in a one-sided clash.

At the Grand Prix de SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Morocco, defending champion Mertens was surprisingly beaten 6-4 7-6 (7-2) by Maria Sakkari.

Sakkari, the sixth seed, is still yet to drop a set at the tournament and will go up against another Belgian in Alison Van Uytvanck, who hit back in style after falling a set down versus Ysaline Bonaventure, in the semi-finals on Friday.

In the other half of the draw, Johanna Konta lost the opening set in a tie-break against second seed Hsieh Su-wei but went on to secure a 6-7 (1-7) 6-4 6-4 win.

Ajla Tomljanovic, who triumphed 6-2 6-4 against Rebecca Peterson, stands between Konta and a place in the final.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova has been forced to withdraw from the Prague Open due to a viral illness.

The world number five decided to play at last week's Stuttgart Open, losing in the last 16 to Victoria Azarenka, but has been unable to train in full for the start of the clay-court season.

"I've been in pain all month and I can't train," Pliskova said on her official website.

"On Tuesday, I was determined to opt out of the Stuttgart tournament, but in the end I tried to play. In fact, I expected the performance to be much worse."

Barbora Strycova takes Pliskova's place in the draw in Prague, where there was no play on Monday due to rain.

There was, however, action at the Grand Prix de Sar la Princesse Lalla Meryem in Rabat, including a surprise early exit for Yulia Putintseva.

The third seed claimed the opening set but eventually went down 3-6 6-4 6-3 to Tamara Zidansek after two hours and 22 minutes on court.

There was better news for eighth seed Alison Van Uytvanck - she reached the second round with a 6-4 6-3 win over Pauline Parmentier thanks to crucial breaks at the end of each set.

"I think it's always difficult to play against Pauline in the first round, especially on clay," the Belgian told the WTA Tour's website.

"I knew it would be tough, so I'm happy with the way that I played. I was playing aggressively without making many unforced errors."

Ana Bogdan defeated Alize Cornet 6-3 6-3 and there were also victories in straight sets for Rebecca Peterson and Isabella Shinikova, as they knocked out Viktorija Golubic and Tatjana Maria respectively.

Petra Kvitova will face Anett Kontaveit in the Stuttgart Open final after blowing Kiki Bertens away in the deciding set on Saturday.

Kvitova was beaten in her previous two semi-final appearances of the clay-court event, but the third seed was not to be denied on this occasion.

Bertens defeated Kvitova twice last year to level their head-to-head record, so the Czech had a score to settle as she won 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-1.

The left-hander won 78 per cent of points behind her first serve and broke four times to reach her fourth final of the year.

Bertens, the sixth seed, lost the first two games of the match but saved a set point in the opener to force a tie-break, which Kvitova dominated.

The consistent Kvitova was unable to find a way back in the second after her Dutch opponent claimed two early breaks, but the world number three charged into a 5-0 lead in the decider before wrapping it up with a hold to love. 

Kontaveit moved into the final without having to step out on court, as world number one Naomi Osaka withdrew due to an abdominal injury.

The unseeded Marketa Vondrousova and Petra Martic will contest the Istanbul Cup final.

Vondrousova was an emphatic 6-2 6-1 winner against Barbora Strycova, while Margarita Gasparyan retired after losing the first set to Martic 6-1.

World number two Simona Halep accounted for Barbora Strycova en route to the Indian Wells Open third round, while Serena Williams trumped Victoria Azarenka in a thrilling contest.

Romanian star Halep made light work of Strycova as she progressed at the WTA Premier tournament on Friday.

It was not as straight forward for 23-time grand slam champion Williams, who outlasted Azarenka in an epic showdown to set up a clash with Garbine Muguruza.

Meanwhile, fourth seed Sloane Stephens was ousted by Stefanie Voegele and last year's runner-up Daria Kasatkina fell 6-2 6-1 to Czech teen Marketa Vondrousova in the second round.

 

Halep sweeps past Strycova

It was fairly routine for 2015 champion Halep, who claimed a 6-2 6-4 win over Strycova in just 86 minutes.

Halep hit 18 winners and converted six of her 11 break points to remain unbeaten in five meetings against Strycova without ever dropping a set.

"I really was focused on what I have to do, and I knew how to play against her," Halep said, "We played so many times. I knew that I have to work for the match, that I have to be ready to run. So I think it was good."

Awaiting Halep is Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Kozlova, who upstaged 31st seed Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4 2-6 6-0.

 

Serena survives classic

It was a match for the ages as Williams prevailed 7-5 6-3 against Azarenka in a titanic battle.

In a clash of the mothers and big hitters, Williams and Azarenka produced an exhibition of relentless power and strength.

Williams had the answers in the gruelling second-round clash – her first appearance since losing in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

"You can't really enjoy it, because then you'll lose focus," Williams said. "You've got to kind of stay in the moment, you know. And it's important to -- like, sometimes you realize, 'Oh, my God, this is going to be a classic.' But you can't let your mind go there, because you wouldn't want to watch it in the future."

 

Stephens falls at first hurdle

Former US Open champion Stephens was the first major casualty at Indian Wells, where she lost to Swiss qualifier Voegele 6-3 6-0.

Voegele saved all three break points she faced as the 28-year-old improved to 5-1 against the American.

"I'm not sure [why she struggles against Voegele]," said Stephens. "I'm still trying to figure it out, obviously. If I knew, I would probably do a little bit better."

Meanwhile, sixth seed Elina Svitolina stayed alive after outlasting Sofia Kenin 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 and seventh seed Kiki Bertens beat Magda Linette 6-4 6-1.

Ashleigh Barty, Elise Mertens, Jelena Ostapenko and Johanna Konta advanced, but Caroline Garcia lost.

Angelique Kerber fought back from a set down to reach her maiden semi-final of the season and Simona Halep also moved into the last four for the first time this year at the Qatar Open. 

Barbora Strycova dominated a flat Kerber in the opening set, but the three-time grand slam champion responded to win 1-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4) in Doha on Thursday. 

Halep stayed in contention to win her first tournament with Thierry Van Cleemput as coach by overcoming a battling Julia Goerges 7-6 (7-1) 7-6 (8-6). 

Elina Svitolina will be top seed Halep's next opponent after the Ukrainian defeated first-time WTA Premier quarter-finalist Karolina Muchova 6-4 6-2. 

Elise Mertens got the better of fifth seed Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-3 and will do battle with Kerber for a place in the final.

 

HALEP DIGS DEEP, MERTENS OUSTS BERTENS

Halep will contest her first semi-final since last August after sending Goerges packing.

The French Open champion was made to work by the powerful German, though, coming back from 4-1 down in a second tie-break and saving two set points before winning it with a thunderous forehand.

Mertens only needed the two sets to get past Bertens in what was her fourth career victory over a top-10 opponent.

Bertens started this month by claiming the eighth singles title of her career in St. Petersburg, but she will not add to that tally this week after being broken twice in each set.

 

KERBER PUSHED ALL THE WAY

Strycova capitalised on an error-strewn first set from a placid Kerber to dominate the first set, but the Wimbledon champion came storming back. 

The third seed made 17 unforced errors in a poor opening set, but was much more aggressive as she came from a break down to level the match. 

Kerber maintained her momentum to lead 3-0 in the decider, only for the unseeded Czech to win the next four games and save a match point before forcing a tie-break. 

The German held it together in the breaker, however, sealing victory with a ferocious cross-court forehand winner.

 

RUTHLESS SVITOLINA HAS TOO MUCH FOR CZECH OUTSIDER

Svitolina has been struggling with a neck and shoulder problem, but the WTA Finals champion made light work of seeing off the 132-ranked Muchova. 

The fourth seed, playing in the quarter-finals of the tournament for the first time, took just 82 minutes to account for the Czech outsider. 

Svitolina secured four breaks and made only 15 unforced errors in a dominant display.

Top seed Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber moved into the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open but Karolina Pliskova was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a viral illness.

Halep will move above Petra Kvitova to go second in the rankings next Monday following a 6-2 6-3 victory over Lesia Tsurenko in Doha on Wednesday, setting up a meeting with Julia Goerges.

Three-time grand slam champion Kerber joined Halep in the last eight, knocking out Anett Kontaveit with a 6-1 7-6 (7-3) win in the final match of the day.

Pliskova, the 2017 champion, withdrew a day after Caroline Wozniacki also pulled out due to illness, with the former replaced in the draw by her sister, Kristyna, who was beaten by Elise Mertens.

Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens, Karolina Muchova and Barbora Strycova also made it through.

 

HALEP MAINTAINS FED CUP MOMENTUM UNDER NEW COACH

Halep inspired Romania to a first Fed Cup semi-final at the expense of the Czech Republic at the weekend and maintained her momentum with a flying start against Tsurenko. 

The Ukrainian had lost all five previous meetings with the world number one, so it was no great surprise when she quickly fell 5-0 behind. 

Halep trailed 3-1 in the second set but clicked back into gear as she flashed an array of classy winners, reeling off five games in a row to seal victory with new coach Thierry Van Cleemput watching on.

 

KERBER OVERCOMES KONTAVEIT

Kerber looked to be heading through in quick time as she dominated Kontaveit, but the Estonian refused to go down without a fight. 

The reigning Wimbledon champion wrapped up the opening set in only 26 minutes and wasted no time in opening up a 4-1 lead in the second. 

Kontaveit fended off six match points to force a tie-break, but the solid Kerber made just 13 unforced errors in a match which she won by holding it together in the breaker, booking an encounter with Strycova.

 

SVITOLINA SAILS THROUGH DESPITE NECK INJURY

Svitolina had failed to take a set in two previous meetings with Ostapenko but came through her second-round match impressively, triumphing 6-4 6-4. 

Last year's WTA Finals champion, who will come up against qualifier Muchova in the quarter-finals, prevailed despite being troubled by a neck issue. 

"I have been struggling since [the] Australian Open with my neck," said the fourth seed. "It's tough to say, because every day is changing. 

"It depends... on the practice, on the match, what I have, so it's tough to tell how I'm going to feel tomorrow. But every single day I try to get a treatment, I try to get some work done, and it's just a process."

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