Maria Sakkari claimed the scalp of top seed Elina Svitolina to reach the quarter-finals of the Ostrava Open on Wednesday.

Sakkari beat world number five Svitolina 6-3 6-3 to progress to the last eight of a WTA Premier event for the third time this season.

Unseeded Greek Sakkari struck 32 winners and returned superbly, winning all but eight of 29 points on Svitolina's second serve.

The 23rd-ranked Sakkari will face either wildcard Jelana Ostapenko or Ons Jabeur for a place in the semi-finals.

Ostapenko knocked out fifth seed Petra Martic, the 2017 French Open champion easing to a 6-3 6-1 victory.

Martic had won their previous two meetings, but the Croatian was beaten in just 57 minutes at the indoor hard-court event. 

Anett Kontaveit was another seed to fall, Sara Sorribes Tormo reaching a maiden Premier-level quarter-final at the expense of the Estonian with a 6-1 6-4 success.

Victoria Azarenka is also two wins away from the final, coming from a set down to see off Barbora Krejcikova 2-6 6-2 6-1, and will now face Karolina Muchova or Elise Mertens, who got past Amanda Anisimova in straight sets.

Nadia Podoroska caused an almighty upset to beat third seed Elina Svitolina and make history by booking a spot in the French Open semi-finals thanks to a 6-2 6-4 triumph.

The Argentine had never played a grand slam match prior to this tournament and was facing a top-20 opponent – the highest-ranked player left in the top half of the draw – for the first time in her career.

But in an immense debut on Court Philippe Chatrier, Podoroska – ranked 131st in the world – outfought Svitolina, who held serve only once against her unfancied opponent.

Podoroska is consequently the first women's qualifier to ever reach the French Open semis and her brave display is rewarded in the shape of a last-four dance with either Iga Swiatek or Martina Trevisan.

After the match, she said: "Well it's a little bit difficult speaking now after the match my English is not so good, thank you so much everybody for your support – I'm very,very happy."

Podoroska's nerves perhaps betrayed her when dropping serve in the first game but from there the Argentine's aggression on the forehand, which helped towards 17 first-set winners, coupled with Svitolina's serving woes, saw her reel off five straight games.

Even a rare blip was followed by a break to love to clinch the opening set and it was not until Svitolina's first service game of the second that the Ukrainian was able to hold.

There were six consecutive breaks from that point as Svitolina failed to consolidate against a gutsy opponent, who crucially held for a 5-4 lead.

Svitolina saved two match points, the second at the end of a mammoth 27-shot rally, but the third time proved a charm for a euphoric Podoroska.


Data slam: Svitolina struggles on serve

Take nothing away from Podoroska, who was fully deserving of her historic win, but Svitolina paid the price for poor serving. She won only 33 per cent of points on first serve and 40 on second, affording her opponent far too many opportunities. Podoroska hit 30 unforced errors, yet her willingness to take on shots also produced 30 winners.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Svitolina - 8/22
Podoroska - 30/30

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Svitolina - 1/1
Podoroska - 1/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Svitolina - 5/10
Podoroska - 8/13

Elina Svitolina's quest for a first grand slam title was significantly boosted on Sunday as she reached the French Open quarter-finals and saw Simona Halep and Kiki Bertens both bow out.

Svitolina was the only top-five seed in action not to lose as she defeated home hope Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-3 to book a last-eight date with Nadia Podoroska, who was a 2-6 6-2 6-3 victor against Barbora Krejcikova.

In Svitolina's half of the draw, top seed Halep was surprisingly beaten 6-1 6-2 by Iga Swiatek and Bertens – ranked fifth at Roland Garros – suffered a 6-4 6-4 loss to Martina Trevisan. 

There are now just three of the top 10 seeds in the women's draw still alive in Paris, and third seed Svitolina is the highest-ranked player left.

 

SVITOLINA NOT FOCUSING ON EXODUS OF SEEDS

Svitolina will be hoping it is third time lucky in the French Open quarter-finals after reaching this stage again, as she previously did in 2015 and 2017.

The pressure may increase on the Ukrainian given how many seeds have already been eliminated, but the 26-year-old is trying not to pay attention to the rest of the draw.

"Of course, I'm the highest seed left, but no one is going to give me the trophy just because I'm the highest left," Svitolina said.

"So, I have to work for it. I try to not look so much ahead."

HALEP SEEKS COMFORT IN CHOCOLATE 

Halep had not dropped a set prior to her fourth-round encounter with Swiatek, but she was stunned by the Pole, who lost only three games in reaching her first grand slam quarter-final.

However, the Romanian – the French Open champion in 2018 – was keen to take solace in a sweet treat afterwards.

"I'm not going to ruin the whole year just for a match," Halep said.

"Of course, it's not easy to take it, but I'm used to some tough moments in this career. So I will have a chocolate and I will be better tomorrow."

 

BERTENS: OUTSIDERS HAVING THEIR MOMENT

There was an even bigger shock on Suzanne-Lenglen as Bertens suffered a straight-sets defeat to world number 159 Trevisan.

Bertens was asked to explain the number of surprising results across both the men's and women's draws, and the Dutchwoman suggested the lack of preparation for the leading players was a factor.

"No one really has played a lot," she claimed.

"I think then you can see that everything can happen in a tournament like this."

Simona Halep is playing free of pressure despite becoming an even stronger favourite to win the French Open in the first week of the tournament.

The 2018 champion arrived at Roland Garros rated as the most likely victor, a status that has been enhanced by three comfortable wins along with the exit of second seed Karolina Pliskova and the withdrawal of Serena Williams due to injury.

The latest of Halep's comfortable victories - her 17th consecutive in a row on the WTA Tour - came as she thrashed Amanda Anisimova 6-0 6-1 in just 54 minutes on Friday, avenging her quarter-final defeat to the American last year.

Next she faces Iga Swiatek in round four, a player she beat comprehensively at the same stage in 2019, but despite increasingly being tipped to go all the way, the Romanian feels no extra strain.

"No, I don't [feel more responsibility] and I don't feel the pressure," she said when asked about the huge expectations on her and Rafael Nadal, the favourite in the men's singles.

"Of course I expect from myself to play good tennis, because I feel good, I feel the game, I feel fit, I feel stronger on my body. 

"But doesn't mean I have to win every match. Important thing for me is just to deliver what I have best in the day that I play, and then we'll see. 

"I'm not thinking about the result. I just want to try to take my chance every time I step on the court, and I'm not thinking about title. It's very far, and many players are playing really well in the draw. So no expectations about that."

Swiatek booked the fourth-round clash with Halep by winning 6-2 6-3 against Eugenie Bouchard.

 

HOME HOPE GARCIA BEATS MERTENS IN THRILLER

Sixteenth seed Elise Mertens looked like she was on course for the fourth round until she was beaten by a superb comeback from Caroline Garcia.

Garcia delighted French fans on Court Philippe-Chatrier, hitting 38 winners to triumph 1-6 6-4 7-5.

"It was a great feeling out there - especially the match was a big fight in the second and third sets," said Garcia.

"So to be able to live this kind of moment... first of all, because we didn't know what was going to happen, so to be able to play French Open it's a great feeling - and to have some crowd to be able to share it with, it's even more special.

"Especially as they were really cheering for me. And I think Elise lived the moment like me."

 

SVITOLINA AND BERTENS CRUISE THROUGH, SAKKARI STUNNED

Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens needed just the two sets to seal their places in round four.

Third seed Svitolina will face Garcia after she overcame Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4 7-5 on Court Suzanne-Lenglen as she eyes a maiden grand slam title.

Svitolina won despite hitting just eight winners to 30 unforced errors, while Alexandrova had 25 winners and 49 unforced errors across two scrappy sets for both players.

Bertens, the fifth seed, sent Katerina Siniakova packing 6-2 6-2 Court Philippe-Chatrier, but Maria Sakkari failed to make it into the second week.

The 159th-ranked Martina Trevisan caused an upset by ousting Sakkari, saving two match points before winning 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Serena Williams is ready to go the distance with Tsvetana Pironkova again at a grand slam after clearing the first hurdle in her bid for French Open glory.

Williams, who turned 39 on Saturday, took her time to warm up on a cool Monday in Paris, Kristie Ahn making life particularly difficult for the sixth seed in a well-contested opening set.

The American duo had also met in the opening round of the US Open and - as was the case in New York - the favourite eventually prevailed in straight sets,meaning a clash with another familiar foe next.

Pironkova threatened to cause an upset when they did battle in the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows earlier this month, though faded down the stretch to lose in three.

Still, Williams - chasing a 24th slam to move level with Margaret Court's record - expects another tough test from the Bulgarian, who defeated Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-3.

"She's playing well, but I am too. I'm ready to play her. She'll be ready to play me," the three-time French Open champion said in her post-match press conference. 

"It will be a long match, she will get a lot of balls back, but so am I. I'll be ready."

Williams revealed she was a little flat against Ahn in a first set that went to a tie break, before a more positive approach allowed her to breeze through the second without dropping a game.

"The biggest difference was just confidence. I just need to play with more confidence, like I'm Serena," she said. "So that was it. I just started playing like that. And I love the clay and I started playing like it, opening the court and moving and sliding."

SUCCESS FOR SEEDS ON DAY TWO

Three other top-10 seeds at the tournament avoided early exits. Elina Svitolina, Kiki Bertens and Petra Kvitova prevailing, though none of the trio had it all their own way.

Bertens was in danger of going home early when the fifth seed fell a set behind but rallied impressively to see off Katarina Zavatska 2-6 6-2 6-0.

Seventh seed Kvitova overcame Oceane Dodin 6-3 7-5, though admitted afterwards her opponent had made her work for the win.

"You know, she didn't make that many mistakes and it was really a tough one," Kvitova - a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2012 - told the media. "I just really tried to stay there mentally strong and wait for the chance to break her and serve well."

Meanwhile, Svitolina, the third seed, triumphed 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 against Russian Varvara Gracheva.

KEYS LOST IN FRENCH CAPITAL, KERBER CRASHES OUT

Madison Keys, the 12th seed, was on the wrong end of an upset, the American beaten in straight sets by Zhang Shuai.

Prior to that match on the same court, 15th seed Marketa Vondrousova was crushed by Iga Swiatek of Poland, winning just three games in a surprisingly lopsided contest that spanned just 63 minutes.

Angelique Kerber also suffered a shock exit, the three-time major winner going down 6-3 6-3 to world number 102 Kaja Juvan.

Karolina Muchova was also dumped out, going down to Christina McHale, but 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza avoided a similar fate against Tamara Zidansek, overcoming a one-set deficit to eventually prevail 5-7 6-4 8-6.

Elina Svitolina will launch her Roland Garros challenge on the back of a fifth WTA Tour title on clay after triumphing at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

The Ukrainian was a 6-4 1-6 6-2 winner against Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina in Saturday's final.

In a title match that was delayed for a short while because of rain, Svitolina was delighted to find focus for the decider after momentum looked to be with Rybakina.

Searching for the form she displayed early on in the match, Svitolina saved a string of break points in the opening game of the third set, restoring the belief that had been ebbing away.

The world number five said: "It really gave me confidence to come back into the match. The second set was a little bit one-sided. It gave me hope and a better feel at the beginning of the third set."

Svitolina, who won the French Open girls' title in 2010 when she beat Ons Jabeur, has twice reached quarter-finals in the main draw in Paris.

She has a strong record on clay though, twice winning the Internazionali d'Italia at the expense of Simona Halep, beating the Romanian in the 2017 and 2018 finals in Rome.

Her strike rate in WTA finals is also phenomenal, with Svitolina improving her record to 15 wins from 18 title matches.

The 26-year-old described her third-set revival as "really positive stuff for me", as it showed she could cope with the unusual circumstances.

Clay-court tennis in Europe is typically played during the warmest months of the year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shunted it back, and the soggy Strasbourg weather may be a sign of things to come in the year's final grand slam.

Svitolina, quoted on the WTA website, said: "Normally the tournaments are playing in really hot conditions. We were happy to finish today. In the end we got lucky to play."

As Svitolina enjoyed her second title of the year, Rybakina reflected on a fourth defeat in five WTA finals in 2020.

Rybakina said: "I can serve a little bit better and make some better decisions. It was so tough to play today because of the cold."

Elena Rybakina will meet Elina Svitolina in her fifth WTA Tour final of 2020 at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

The Kazakh beat Nao Hibino 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 16 minutes in the last four to reach her first final since the Tour resumed following the coronavirus pandemic.

No one has been to more WTA finals in 2020 than Rybakina, though she has only won one of her previous four - the Hobart International in January.

Hibino had knocked out Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko to reach her maiden clay-court semi-final, but this proved a step too far for the unseeded Japanese.

Svitolina made her second final of 2020 with a 6-2 4-6 6-4 triumph over Aryna Sabalenka in the other last-four meeting.

Sabalenka had completed her rain-delayed quarter-final over Katerina Siniakova across three sets earlier in the day, and that may have taken its toll in a match against Svitolina that lasted almost two hours. 

Elina Svitolina progressed to the semi-finals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg but will have to wait until Friday to find out her opponent after rain suspended play between Aryna Sabalenka and Katerina Siniakova.

Number two seed Svitolina was made to work hard for her 6-4 6-3 victory over Jil Teichmann, battling back from a break down in both sets.

The world number five took an hour and 23 minutes to secure her first semi-final for six months.

"It was a great fight from Jil and I think both of us were playing at a really good level at some points," Svitolina said.

"I was fighting. I didn't start the match very well, but I was trying to be very focused and fight back. In the end, I'm very happy with how I handled the match."

Sabalenka and Siniakova will resume their contest on Friday after the latter claimed the first set 6-2. Play was suspended due to rain with the Czech 2-1 down in the second but serving next.

The other semi-final will be contested by fifth seed Elena Rybakina, who defeated Zhang Shuai 6-3 6-2, and Nao Hibino, who ousted 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4).

Elina Svitolina battled past Magda Linette to reach the quarter-finals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Tuesday.

The second seed won the first set via a tie-break and came back from a double break down in the second to seal a 7-6 (7-0) 7-5 victory in an hour and 58 minutes.

Linette was just two points away from winning the opener and missed an opportunity to force a decider on set point in the second.

"It definitely was not easy. She was fighting back, she was trying to produce a good level; I was up and down," said Svitolina, who reached the quarter-finals on her return to the WTA Tour at the Internazionali d'Italia last week.

"It's not easy to come from another tournament with different balls, different conditions. I was trying just to fight and, in the end, I was lucky I finished in two sets."

Jil Teichmann awaits Svitolina in the last eight following a 7-6 (7-3) 7-5 win against 2018 champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, while there were also victories for Elena Rybakina and Zhang Shuai.

US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka lost a three-set thriller to Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali d'Italia to set up a meeting with top seed Simona Halep. 

Muguruza beat her fellow former world number one 3-6 6-3 6-4 after two hours and 19 minutes, having been one point away from falling 5-3 down in an entertaining decider at Foro Italico. 

The 2016 French Open winner managed to hold her serve on that occasion, then broke to love in the next game before going on to seal the match at the third attempt. 

"I think it was a tough match. I knew it was going to be a tough match. She's a good player, she's playing good, she's with a lot of confidence," said Muguruza. 

"I knew it was going to be a tough battle. I was ready for it. I stood behind her and was waiting for my opportunities. She was playing great at the beginning. She took the first set. I kept myself together and said, 'Okay, let's start another battle in the second set'."

Next up for Muguruza is two-time Rome finalist Halep, who saw Yulia Putintseva retire from their quarter-final meeting due to a lower back injury. 

After dropping her serve to fall 6-2 2-0 down to the world number two in 47 minutes, Putintseva, who played back-to-back three-set matches in the previous two rounds, pulled out of the match. 

Halep said of Muguruza: "Every time I played well against her, [I was] as much as possible aggressive. If I play my best game and if I feel great physically on court, I have a big chance to win the match. But every time is different, because she's playing so hard. 

"You don't really know what to expect. It's tough every time. So I don't plan for a specific match, because you never know on court."

Two-time Internazionali d'Italia champion Elina Svitolina was comprehensively beaten 6-3 6-0 by Marketa Vondrousova, who was the runner-up at last year's French Open. 

Standing between Vondrousova and her first final appearance since Roland Garros last year is reigning champion Karolina Pliskova. 

Second seed Pliskova overcame Elise Mertens 6-3 3-6 6-0 as she continued to impress after initially struggling when the WTA Tour returned in August.

Elina Svitolina and Kiki Bertens will not take part in this year's US Open due to concerns about coronavirus.

Svitolina and Bertens on Friday became the latest high-profile players to opt out of the tournament that is due to be played behind closed doors in New York from August 31.

With women's world number one Ash Barty having already decided against competing, three of the WTA Tour's top 10 players have now pulled out.

Svitolina, ranked fifth in the world, posted on Twitter: "Considering all the aspects, I have decided not to play the US Open 2020.

"I want to thank the USTA [United States Tennis Association], organisers and WTA for giving the players a chance to play and the fans a chance to watch this great event.

"I understand and respect all the efforts they are putting in to make it happen in a safe environment, but I still don't feel comfortable to travel to the US without putting my team and myself at high risk."

World number seven Bertens said the 14-day quarantine upon returning to the Netherlands from the USA would prove too much of hindrance to her preparation for the French Open, which will take place from September 27.

"After long consideration I have decided not to go to the States for Cincinnati [the Western and Southern Open, which has been moved to New York] and the US Open," Bertens posted on Instagram.

"The situation around COVID-19 is still that worrying and the health of everyone and the control over this virus is priority.

"[The Dutch] prime minister indicated yesterday that we should be quarantined for 14 days after coming back from the States. Of course, we respect this as a team and this would disturb our preparation for my beloved clay court tournaments in Rome and Paris.

"I hope the situation will soon take a positive turn and wish everyone good health."

The WTA Tour returned this week with the Palermo Open and, after skipping that event, world number two Simona Halep has arrived in the Czech Republic to play in the Prague Open next week.

Halep previously admitted to having concerns about participating in the US Open.

Reigning men's singles champion Rafael Nadal will not take part due to worries about COVID-19, while Roger Federer will miss out after undergoing knee surgery.

Novak Djokovic is expected to make a definitive announcement on his participation this week.

Andy Murray's in-match commentary was a highlight on day one of the Madrid Open Virtual Pro, while Rafael Nadal made a winning start.

The Madrid Open should have taken place in the Spanish capital in May but the coronavirus pandemic forced the clay-court tournament to be postponed.

But, 16 ATP and 16 WTA Tour players swapped their racquets for PlayStation 4 controllers this week, with tennis suspended until at least mid-July.

The virtual Madrid Open got underway on Monday, with former world number one and three-time grand slam champion Murray providing plenty of entertainment.

Murray won his first match in Group 1, defeating Frenchman Benoit Paire in an eventful clash.

"Where is my player going? Where are you going?!," Murray said during the match.

"Ahh, get there! Get there!... My hands are sweating."

World number two Nadal also won his opener, overcoming Canadian sensation Denis Shapovalov 4-3 [4-3].

Nadal's video-game performance came after Davis Cup team-mate and Madrid Open Virtual Pro tournament director Feliciano Lopez joked that the 19-time major winner asked to postpone his first match.

Lopez later tweeted: "Guys, I was joking, of course... I said Rafa had a back injury from the pressure of playing on the PS4. We might need some sense of humour please!"

Elsewhere, Diego Schwartzman claimed back-to-back wins in Group 2 over David Ferrer and John Isner, while Stefanos Tsitsipas booked his spot in the quarter-finals with victories against Kei Nishikori and Fabio Fognini.

In the women's competition, Caroline Wozniacki – who retired from the WTA Tour following the Australian Open – came through both her Group 3 matches and Sorana Cirstea tops Group 2.

Elina Svitolina claimed her first WTA Tour title of the year with a hard-fought win over Marie Bouzkova in the Monterrey Open final.

The Ukrainian top seed needed three hours to overcome Czech ninth seed Bouzkova 7-5 4-6 6-4 in the decider of the WTA International event.

It marked Svitolina's 14th Tour crown but first since late 2018, when she won the WTA Finals.

Bouzkova, playing her first WTA Tour final, battled hard before falling short against the world number seven.

Svitolina came from a break down to win the opening set before Bouzkova levelled the match by taking the second.

There were five breaks of serve in the final set, with Bouzkova recovering from 4-1 and 5-2 down to get back on serve before getting broken in the 10th game.

Elina Svitolina continued her impressive run to reach the Monterrey Open final, while Johanna Konta was beaten on Saturday.

Svitolina, the top seed at the WTA International event, crushed Arantxa Rus 6-0 6-1 in just 51 minutes in their semi-final.

The Ukrainian lost just nine points on serve and is yet to drop a set at this year's tournament.

Svitolina is into her 17th WTA Tour final and first of 2020, while she will be aiming for her first title since 2018.

Awaiting her in the decider is Marie Bouzkova, who beat second seed Konta 6-3 6-4.

Bouzkova, the Czech ninth seed, saved all five break points she faced to reach her maiden WTA Tour final.

Top seed Elina Svitolina reached her first WTA semi-final of the season after accounting for teenager Leylah Fernandez at the Monterrey Open, while Johanna Konta prevailed in a marathon.

Svitolina had not progressed to a semi-final since last year's season-ending WTA Finals, but the Ukrainian ended her drought by defeating 17-year-old sensation Fernandez 6-3 7-5.

World number seven Svitolina needed 98 minutes to book her spot in the final four of the WTA International event in Monterrey on Friday as Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands awaits.

Swedish sixth seed Rebecca Peterson was humbled 6-1 6-1 by Rus in the day's final match.

Number two seed Konta produced a stunning comeback to trump Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 7-6 (9-7).

Konta rallied from 5-2 down in the final set and saved two match points to outlast 18-year-old Potapova in a remarkable encounter in Mexico.

Next up is ninth seed Marie Bouzkova, who beat eighth seed Wang Yafan 6-2 7-5.

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