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.

Elina Svitolina and Johanna Konta eased into the Monterrey Open quarter-finals on Thursday.

Svitolina, the top seed at the WTA International event, was too strong for Belarusian Olga Govortsova 6-3 6-4 in one hour, 18 minutes.

The Ukrainian managed four breaks of serve in her victory, moving into a last-eight clash with Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez.

Konta was pushed more but still got past German Tatjana Maria 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.

The British second seed was wasteful, converting just one of 12 break points to advance.

Russian Anastasia Potapova awaits in the quarter-finals after overcoming Tamara Zidansek 1-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-1.

Arantxa Rus also booked a spot in the last eight thanks to a 7-5 6-0 victory over American 10th seed Lauren Davis.

Kim Clijsters suffered another loss as her comeback continued at the Monterrey Open, while Victoria Azarenka started her 2020 with a defeat on Tuesday.

Back after more than seven years off the WTA Tour, Clijsters fell to a second straight loss, going down to second seed Johanna Konta 6-3 7-5 in the first round.

Clijsters, a wildcard at the WTA International tournament, managed to win just 12 return points in the 85-minute loss as Konta posted her first win of the year.

The four-time grand slam champion has been handed two tough draws this year, having lost to Garbine Muguruza in Dubai last month.

Playing for the first time since last year's US Open, seventh seed and last year's runner-up Azarenka was beaten 6-2 6-2 by Tamara Zidansek.

Top seed Elina Svitolina cruised through the opening round with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Danka Kovinic.

American 10th seed Lauren Davis also eased through, while there were wins for Anastasia Potapova, Leylah Fernandez, Arantxa Rus, Kateryna Bondarenko and Tatjana Maria.

Amanda Anisimova claimed the scalp of an out-of-sorts Elina Svitolina and Petra Martic was among the other seeds who crashed out of the Qatar Open on Monday.

Svitolina has endured a disappointing start to the season and there was no upturn in fortunes in Doha, where she was beaten 6-3 6-3 in the second round.

Martic got past Barbora Strycova in the first round in Dubai last week, but the Czech gained revenge with a 4-6 6-1 6-1 victory to move into round two.

Alison Riske, the 13th seed, lost an all-American encounter with Jennifer Brady, while 17th seed Donna Vekic went down in straight sets to Iga Swiatek.

Kiki Bertens had no such trouble, winning 6-2 6-4 against Karolina Muchova to reach the third round, while Elena Rybakina came from a set down to oust Sorana Cirstea.

 

TEENAGER ANISIMOVA STARTLES SVITOLINA

Svitolina has won just four matches this year and it was 18-year-old Anisimova who inflicted another blow on the world number seven.

The American teenager claimed a first top 10 win of 2020, taking just 64 minutes to sail through in her first appearance in this tournament.

She struck 27 winners and saved all three break points faced and will take on either Swiatek or Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the quarter-finals.

 

RYBAKINA ROARS BACK

Rybakina suffered the agony of a defeat to Simona Halep in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Saturday.

The 20-year-old rising star from Kazakhstan, up to a career-high 17th in the rankings, gave another demonstration of her fighting spirit by roaring back to beat Cirstea 3-6 6-3 6-1.

Rybakina already has 20 victories to her name this season and will be expected to make it 21 when she takes on Alison Van Uytvanck in the second round.

 

SUAREZ NAVARRO SETS UP BATTLE OF FORMER CHAMPIONS

Carla Suarez Navarro coasted to a 7-5 6-0 first-round victory over Zhang Shuai on day two of the tournament.

The Spaniard's reward will be a tough encounter with Petra Kvitova, two players who have experienced glory in Doha.

Suarez Navarro won the tournament in four years ago and Kvitova was crowned champion in 2018.

Sofia Kenin lost her first WTA Tour match since winning the Australian Open triumph to crash out of the Dubai Tennis Championships in the first round.

Kenin claimed her maiden grand slam title in Melbourne and then helped the United States to a place in the Fed Cup Finals with a 3-2 win over Latvia.

However, despite winning a tight opening set on Tuesday, she was defeated 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-3 by St Petersburg Ladies Trophy runner-up Elena Rybakina, whose reward is a second-round tie against Katerina Siniakova, who overcame Karolina Muchova 6-4 4-6 6-0.

"I didn't get nervous at all because I knew it was going to be tough," Rybakina, who was playing her sixth match in eight days, said.

"Actually, I prepared myself like it's a good practice. I didn't expect to win. I tried to do my best, but I was not nervous. I didn't think about her winning the Australian Open because I know that now anyone can beat anyone."

Kenin's defeat was not the only shock, however, with Belinda Bencic's defence of her title proving to be short-lived as she let a brilliant start slip in a remarkable loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

World number four Bencic was in complete control as she took the first 19 points but was unable to prevent Pavlyuchenkova building momentum in an extraordinary turnaround.

After losing seven of the first eight games, the Russian won 12 of the final 13 to cap a brilliant 1-6 6-1 6-1 triumph – her 15th win against top-five opposition and her second of 2020.

Bencic's capitulation followed on from another surprise result, with Jennifer Brady claiming a 6-2 6-1 victory over Elina Svitolina.

Brady – who stunned world number one Ash Barty in Brisbane last month – needed just an hour to send the world number six, who won in Dubai in 2017 and 2018, packing.

Kristina Mladenovic cruised past Aliaksandra Sasnovich in straight sets to tee up a tie with second seed Karolina Pliskova.

Veronika Kudermetova got the better of Dayana Yastremska, while Petra Martic dispatched Hsieh Su-wei and Aryna Sabalenka saw off Maria Sakkari 6-2 4-6 6-1.

Kiki Bertens wasted little time in getting her St Petersburg Ladies Trophy defence up and running with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Veronika Kudermetova.

The home hope found herself overmatched against the second seed from the off as Bertens surged into a 4-0 lead before a third break sealed the first set.

A break to cut the gap to 3-2 in the second proved a false dawn for Kudermetova, who failed to win another game after that as she was beaten in under an hour.

Another Russian, qualifier Anastasia Potapova, is up next for Bertens.

Third seed Petra Kvitova found the going somewhat tougher before prevailing 7-6 (7-1) 1-6 6-2 against Alison van Uytvanck in two hours and 16 minutes.

"Definitely, it was a tough one," Kvitova said, following a match featuring a remarkable 33 break-point opportunities.

"I’ve never played Alison before, and she'd already played one match on the surface, and for me it was the first one, so that's always a bit challenging."

Kvitova must now take on the in-form Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The Russian claimed her ninth straight win indoors as she beat seventh seed Donna Vekic 6-1 7-5, while Maria Sakkari was also a straight-sets winner over Alize Cornet.

At the Thailand Open, top seed Elina Svitolina made short work of Storm Sanders, blowing away the qualifier 6-1 6-2 in 57 minutes.

Magda Linette was a 7-5 6-1 winner against the experienced Peng Shuai in blustery conditions and has further Chinese opposition coming up after Wang Xiya defeated Barbara Haas 6-3 6-4.

Romania's Patricia Maria Tig also reached the quarter-finals in straight sets at the expense of sixth seed Yafan Wang.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova and fifth seed Elina Svitolina were high-profile casualties in the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday.

Pliskova fell to a straight-sets defeat to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Svitolina was soundly beaten by two-time grand slam champion Garbine Muguruza.

Belinda Bencic and Donna Vekic were also sent packing, losing to Anett Kontaveit and Iga Swiatek respectively.

There was no sign of a slip-up from former world number one Simona Halep, however, as she made serene progress to the next round by easing past Yulia Putintseva.

 

PLISKOVA, SVITOLINA CRASH OUT

After defending champion Naomi Osaka and 23-time grand slam winner Serena Williams were eliminated on Friday, Pliskova joined the star duo in dropping out of the tournament.

Pliskova went down 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-3) to 30th seed Pavlyuchenkova in the first match on Rod Laver Arena on Saturday.

"I think she was playing very well. Maybe the best she played against me so far in the last couple matches," Pliskova told reporters. "But let's say I was [at] about 40 per cent of my game, so of course then she can feel so much better if I just don't play enough [of] what I can play. 

"That's how it is. I think especially [in] the important moments she always served well so I had a couple chances here and there. But I think she just played better than me."

Svitolina did not fare much better as she lost to Muguruza in 67 minutes, the Spaniard - now ranked 32 in the world - hitting 31 winners to advance 6-1 6-2.

 

BENCIC, VEKIC SENT PACKING

It was another tough day for seeds as Bencic (6) and Vekic (19) failed to progress beyond the third round in Melbourne.

US Open semi-finalist Bencic was swept aside in just 49 minutes, humbled 6-0 6-1 by 28th seed Kontaveit on Margaret Court Arena.

"I think every grand slam there are seeded players losing, so I think this grand slam was even the best because no top-10 player lost in first round," she said in a news conference. "It's the same at every grand slam. There are upsets, and I think it's normal, because it's tennis, and tennis is very unpredictable."

Kontaveit will face Swiatek after the 18-year-old stunned Vekic 7-5 6-3.

 

HALEP, KERBER MOVE ON

Halep thwarted in-form Putintseva 6-1 6-4 to move through to the second week of the slam for a third consecutive year.

Fourth seed Halep - runner-up in Melbourne two years ago - needed one hour, 18 minutes to progress to the fourth round.

Away from Rod Laver Arena, 2016 champion Angelique Kerber ground out a 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 victory over Italian Camila Giorgi.

Kerber was pushed but the three-time major winner clinched a spot in the fourth round for the fifth successive season after two hours, eight minutes.

 

MERTENS AND BERTENS ADVANCE

Next up for Halep is 16th seed Elise Mertens, who required three sets to overcome CiCi Bellis.

Mertens was two points from victory in the second set after taking a 5-4 lead in the tiebreak but failed to close it out. However, she managed to keep her run alive by reeling off the next six games in succession.

The 2018 semi-finalist breezed through the final set to wrap up a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-0 victory in just under two hours.

Joining Mertens in the next round was Dutch ninth seed Kiki Bertens, who made the second week of the Australian Open for the first time.

Bertens claimed a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) victory over Zarina Diyas and has a meeting with Svitolina's conqueror Muguruza to look forward to.

Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber claimed comfortable second-round wins at the Australian Open as Garbine Muguruza survived a scare on Thursday.

It was a good day for the women's seeds at Melbourne Park, as 10 of the 12 in action moved into the third round.

Halep, Pliskova and Kerber were among them, while the unseeded Muguruza also progressed.

The top 10 seeds remain alive in the women's draw, with a few familiar faces shaping as contenders once more.

 

HALEP, PLISKOVA AND KERBER PROGRESS

A runner-up in Melbourne in 2018, fourth seed Halep was largely untroubled in a 6-2 6-4 win over British qualifier Harriet Dart.

The Romanian managed five breaks of serve and will meet Yulia Putintseva, who edged last year's semi-finalist Danielle Collins, scoring a 6-4 2-6 7-5 win against the 26th seed.

Pliskova has reached at least the quarter-finals at the past three Australian Opens and the Czech second seed looks like a challenger.

She had few problems in a 6-3 6-3 victory over Laura Siegemund on Rod Laver Arena.

Pliskova will next face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after the Russian 30th seed battled past Taylor Townsend 7-5 7-6 (7-1).

Kerber, the 2016 champion, was untroubled by Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon in a 6-3 6-2 win.

MUGURUZA FIGHTS THROUGH

Two-time grand slam champion Muguruza was pushed in a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over Ajla Tomljanovic.

Muguruza mixed 34 winners with 39 unforced errors, but an even bigger test awaits in the third round.

FIfth seed Elina Svitolina set up a meeting with Muguruza by overcoming American Lauren Davis 6-2 7-6 (8-6).

That late-night clash on Margaret Court Arena became dramatic in the second set as Svitolina failed to seize a chance to serve for the match, Davis forcing the tense tie-break.

 

BENCIC, VEKIC CONTINUE RUNS

Coming off a semi-final appearance at the US Open last year, Belinda Bencic overcame former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 7-5 7-5.

The Swiss star will meet Anett Kontaveit, who recorded a 6-2 4-6 6-1 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Donna Vekic, the 19th seed, has cruised through her opening two matches after brushing past Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2.

Meanwhile, Dutch ninth seed Kiki Bertens was too good for Australian wildcard Arina Rodionova 6-3 7-5.

Karolina Muchova, the 20th-seeded Czech, was well beaten by CiCi Bellis 6-4 6-4.

Twenty-year-old American Bellis is playing her first grand slam in two years after injury kept her out of action for 18 months.

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova came through their first-round matches at the Australian Open, as Maria Sharapova suffered an early exit in the women's singles.

Fourth seed Halep was handed a testing opener against Jennifer Brady, who had beaten Ash Barty at the Brisbane International this month.

But the Romanian prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 in one hour and 36 minutes to join home hope Barty, defending champion Naomi Osaka and tournament favourite Serena Williams in round two.

An up-and-down first set was crucial, as Halep twice recovered from a break down and saved three set points while Brady was serving at 6-5.

Halep found a way to force a tie-break and then edged it 7-5 before running away with the contest in the second set.

Wimbledon champion Halep also had to overcome a first-set fall that required the trainer to check on her wrist and joked she had also stumbled in her first match of the 2018 tournament, when she made it all the way to the final.

"In 2018 it was the same, probably I can repeat that!" said Halep.

"I don't know why in the first round always I fall down. Maybe it's a good sign but it's too far to think about that.

"My wrist is pretty painful. I need to chill and recover for the second round."

Second seed Pliskova earned a 6-1 7-5 victory over Kristina Mladenovic, losing serve just once in the 87-minute battle. The Czech faces Laura Siegemund next, while Halep will take on Harriet Dart.


TOP 10 ALL THROUGH AS SHARAPOVA'S WOES CONTINUE

Sharapova suffered her third consecutive loss in the first round of a grand slam following a 6-3 6-4 defeat against 19th seed Donna Vekic as the former world number one hit 31 unforced errors.

A first-round casualty at Wimbledon and the US Open, Sharapova - who has been struggling for form and fitness - crashed out in the first round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2010.

Sixth seed Belinda Bencic won 6-3 7-5 against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, while Madison Keys was a 6-3 6-1 victor against Daria Kasatkina, as all of the top 10 seeds moved safely into round two.

Elina Svitolina claimed a 6-4 7-5 victory in her match against Katie Boulter, while former grand slam champions Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza were winners against Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Shelby Rogers respectively. Muguruza won by an unusual 0-6 6-1 6-0 scoreline.


KONTA AND VONDROUSOVA BOW OUT

Johanna Konta, Marketa Vondrousova, Amanda Anisimova and Anastasija Sevastova were the seeds to fall on day two.

An Australian Open semi-finalist in 2016, British 12th seed Konta suffered a 6-4 6-2 loss to Ons Jabeur.

On the comeback trail following a tendinitis-related problem in her right knee, which forced her to withdraw from Brisbane and Adelaide, Konta was only making her second appearance since losing in the US Open quarter-finals last year.

Konta said: "Ultimately the main thing was to start playing again, and I am. How I physically felt out there is obviously a massive tick for me compared to where I was in September. Before Brisbane I had been out for almost four-and-a-half months."

Czech Vondrousova, the 15th seed and French Open finalist last year, lost in three sets to Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Another rising star fell as 18-year-old American Anisimova lost out in a final set to Zarina Diyas, while home hope Ajla Tomljanovic emphatically accounted for Sevastova with a 6-1 6-1 triumph to book a round-two meeting with Muguruza.

World number six Elina Svitolina has added Marcos Baghdatis to her coaching team.

Baghdatis, a winner of four ATP Tour singles titles, retired at Wimbledon in July in order to spend more time with his family.

The 34-year-old Greek on Wednesday revealed he will assist Andrew Bettles in coaching WTA Finals runner-up Svitolina.

"I am so glad to announce the next chapter of my life and look forward to coaching a great athlete and super tennis player, No.6 ranked WTA player Elina Svitolina, working alongside Andy Bettles!" he posted on Instagram.

"I want to thank Elina for putting her trust in me. Let's do this! Bring on 2020."

Former world number three Svitolina failed to win a title this year, but broke new ground at grand slams by reaching the semi-final stage at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Ashleigh Barty denied the 25-year-old from Ukraine back-to-back WTA Finals titles in Shenzhen last month.

Ashleigh Barty was struggling to make sense of the "bizarre" experience of winning the WTA Finals after her straight-sets victory over Elina Svitolina.

The Australian capped the greatest season of her career with a 6-4 6-3 victory in Shenzhen on Sunday, collecting $4.42million after dethroning the 2018 winner.

It was a superb display from the French Open champion, who had suffered a group-stage loss to Kiki Bertens in China.

Asked to reflect on how her success felt, the world number one said: "Bizarre, if I'm being completely honest. 

"It feels like it's been a year that just hasn't stopped. It's been a year of incredible ups and downs – I think more ups than downs. To cap it off with a very, very special night in Shenzhen is really cool.

"To come through a week like this, you have to beat the best of the best. It takes me back to some memories in Miami where I felt like I did that for the first time, beating back-to-back top-10 players, having that really consistent week.

"I've grown and developed so much since that fortnight in Miami. To be able to bounce back after the disappointment after my match with Kiki [Bertens] was really important."

World number one Ashleigh Barty dethroned Elina Svitolina with a straight-sets victory to secure a maiden WTA Finals title and record prize money.

Barty put the icing on the cake at the end of the best season of her career with a 6-4 6-3 victory in Shenzhen on Sunday.

The French Open champion ended her 2018 campaign by claiming the WTA Elite Trophy and showed the huge strides she has made by lifting the Billie Jean King Trophy 12 months later.

Top seed Barty started the year 15th in the rankings and ends it as the best in the world with a first grand slam under her belt, also picking up $4.42million for her triumph in China.

Svitolina's bank account would have been swelled to the tune of $4.73m if she had retained the title, but the eighth seed had to settle for $2.4m following her first defeat of the tournament.

Australian Barty was a bundle of energy throughout a hard-fought championship match, hitting 30 winners and coming from a break down in the second set to win her fourth event in 2019.

Barty charged into the net with purpose in a positive start and there were no signs of nerves from Svitolina, who blasted down an ace for a hold to love in her opening service game.

Both players mixed up their approach in a tight opening set and it was not until the ninth game that the first break point came, Barty fending that off before taking a 5-4 lead.

Svitolina was under pressure at 0-30 down in the next game and Barty wrapped up the opening set with a rasping forehand return winner after a benefiting from a huge slice of luck from the net cord.

The favourite gifted Svitolina a break for a 2-1 lead in the second with a double fault after a string of backhand errors but hit straight back to level with an overhead volley.

Barty was in the ascendancy, prowling around the court with great athleticism to force the world number eight onto the back foot and a first double fault from the defending champion left her 4-2 down.

Svitolina was not going to relinquish her title without a fight, though, and was back on serve when Barty sent a backhand wide, but she failed to hold for the third game in a row.

Barty grasped her chance to serve out the match, closing it out with a hold to love.

World number one Ashleigh Barty will take on defending champion Elina Svitolina for the WTA Finals title after both players came from a set down in their last-four contests.

Barty, who is aiming to round off comfortably the best year of her career with a maiden WTA Finals triumph, beat Karolina Pliskova 4-6 6-2 6-3 in the second semi-final in Shenzhen.

The French Open champion thumped 36 winners and saved all but one of the 12 break points she faced, yet she will have to break new ground in order to deny Svitolina a successful title defence.

Svitolina, who is remarkably set to play in her first final of 2019, has won all five of the pair's previous meetings.

The Ukrainian held a 5-7 6-3 4-1 lead when her semi-final rival, Belinda Bencic, retired due to cramping.

"You never want to finish the match and to see your opponent retiring," said Svitolina in an on-court interview. "It's very tough for her, especially at the end of the season, one of the biggest tournaments. Hopefully she can recover and be strong for next year.

"When I was coming to this tournament, definitely I was expecting very tough matches. It's the last tournament of the season, tomorrow [Sunday] is the last match of the season finally! It's going to be a tough one but I'm going to leave everything on the court to try to raise the cup again."

"I really didn't want to retire," Bencic said in a news conference. "I wanted to finish the match, but it was not possible. I'm really disappointed."

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