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.

A furious Sara Errani aimed verbal volleys at Kiki Bertens at the French Open on Wednesday, accusing the fifth seed of exaggerating an injury in their mammoth second-round clash.

A visibly upset Bertens left the court in a wheelchair after suffering with cramps in a three-hour, 11-minute tussle with Errani that the Dutchwoman won 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 9-7.

However, Errani, who failed to serve out the match on three different occasions, claimed her opponent was merely putting on an act.

"I don't like when somebody is joking on you," Errani told reporters.

"She played an amazing match, but I don't like the situation.

"One hour she has an injury, then she runs. I don't like that. She goes out of the court on the chair, and now she's in the locker perfect, in the restaurant. I don't like these things."

World number eight Bertens, who faces Katerina Siniakova next, shrugged off the criticism, though.

"She can say whatever she feels like. Maybe I should take some more acting classes or should pursue a career in that," Bertens said.

"I'm not sure what she's thinking, but, no, I didn't feel really good on court, to be honest."

AZARENKA EXITS

On the same day that Serena Williams pulled out of the tournament due to an Achilles injury, Victoria Azarenka – who beat the American in the US Open semi-finals – also bowed out with a 6-2 6-2 loss to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

None of the four women who made the final four in New York are still in the tournament in France, with champion Naomi Osaka having withdrawn before it started and Jennifer Brady eliminated in the first round.

However, Azarenka did not blame the quick turnaround and change of surface for her loss.

"Today was not the case of a turnaround, was not the case of the court, was not the case of anything else," she said.

"This is a lesson for me to learn. I don't think about what happened in New York."

HALEP OVERCOMES COMPATRIOT

Top seed Simona Halep beat fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3 6-4 to seal her passage to the third round.

"It's never easy to play against a Romanian and against Irina, we played so many times; it's never easy," Halep admitted.

"I managed well in the end and I think I played the right game when I needed to."

GAUFF'S RACE IS RUN

Despite beating ninth seed Johanna Konta in the first round, 16-year-old Coco Gauff fell at the next hurdle.

The American went a set up against Italian Martina Trevisan only to lose 4-6 6-2 7-5.

Meanwhile, seeds Elina Svitolina, Elise Mertens and Amanda Anisimova all progressed.

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.

Victoria Azarenka produced a memorable performance as she destroyed Sofia Kenin 6-0 6-0 at the Internazionali d'Italia on Thursday.

Azarenka, beaten in the US Open final less than a week ago, has transitioned to the clay courts in impressive fashion after beating Venus Williams and now, more impressively, Kenin.

The Australian Open champion had no answer to Azarenka's ruthlessness and near-perfection out on court in Rome, with the Belarusian claiming victory in just an hour and one minute.

Azarenka faced no break points in the entire match and made only one unforced error as she emphatically took the first set against a player who was her US Open doubles partner.

Kenin improved in the second set, forcing some long games – particularly the second, which was at deuce on five different occasions.

But Azarenka – who faces Russian Daria Kasatkina in the last 16 – simply had too much for the American and cruised to a sensational victory over the third seed,

"I think my consistency was the key to the scoreline," Azarenka told reporters. "I feel like I played really smart tennis today: I was able to use a lot of court; I was able to use a lot of different pace.

"So, I'm very happy with that. But the key was definitely being able to maintain the level that I started with."

She added, according to the WTA Tour website: "I was really more focused on what I can do today on the court, than on what she does well. So, I think that was the difference, I was able to insist on my level and insist on my pace."

Earlier, Garbine Muguruza managed to outlast American sensation Coco Gauff 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-3 in an absorbing contest.

Gauff, 16, appeared to be in control of the decider after an early break of serve.

But three double faults in the following game gifted Spaniard Muguruza an instant break in return, giving her the initiative to go on and seal victory.

Johanna Konta saw off Irina-Camelia Begu in fine fashion, the seventh-seeded Briton emerging 6-0 6-4, but Kiki Bertens and Petra Martic were not so impressive.

Bertens, seeded fifth, fell 6-4 6-4 to Polona Hercog, while eighth seed Martic succumbed to Yulia Putintseva in a gruelling three-hour contest, the latter eventually winning 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-4.

Marketa Vondrousova and Svetlana Kuznetsova were among the other victors on the day.

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.

Kiki Bertens outclassed Elena Rybakina to retain her St Petersburg Ladies' Trophy title and Magda Linette won the Thailand Open on Sunday.

Bertens became the first player to win back-to-back titles in St Petersburg, easing to a 6-1 6-3 victory over eighth seed Rybakina.

World number eight Bertens, who was due to face the returning Kim Clijsters in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships before withdrawing this weekend, was in tears after losing just one set this week to claim a 10th WTA title.

She saved all five break points she faced, securing a first title this year.

"I never expect any match to be easy. It didn't feel easy, of course, even though the scoreline was. At the end, I felt a little bit nervous, but I was just happy to close it out," second seed Bertens said. 

"I just tried to approach every point the same, no matter what the score is. Sometimes, on a break point, you go for a little more on serve, and that's what I did today."

Linette sealed the second WTA Tour title of her career with a 6-3 6-2 defeat of qualifier Leonie Kung in Hua Hin.

Teenager Kung, playing in the main draw of an event at this level for only the second time, failed to break Linette's serve and was made to pay for being unable to hold on three occasions.

Kiki Bertens will defend her St Petersburg Ladies' Trophy title on Sunday after defeating Russian number one Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-1 4-6 6-1.

World number eight Bertens, who has been confirmed as Kim Clijsters' first opponent in next week's Dubai Tennis Championships, required a decider on Saturday to secure a third successive win over a Russian opponent.

But despite relinquishing control in the second set, Bertens did not let up in the third as she ultimately cruised through to reach her first singles final since October.

Eighth seed Elena Rybakina will be Bertens' opponent in the final, with the 20-year-old advancing to the biggest final of her career so far with a 3-6 7-5 6-1 defeat of Maria Sakkari.

Elsewhere, in the Thailand Open, teenager Leonie Kung got the better of Nao Hibino to make the final in what is just her second WTA Tour main draw event.

The 19-year-old had to come from a break down in the decider on Saturday but ultimately triumphed 7-5 4-6 6-3.

Kung will face world number 42 Magda Linette in the final, with the Pole having overcome Patricia Maria Tig in her semi-final.

Kim Clijsters will begin her WTA Tour comeback against world number eight Kiki Bertens at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

The first-round clash will be the four-time major champion's first professional match in seven and a half years, having retired after the 2012 US Open.

Clijsters, a mother of three, revealed her shock decision to return to tennis last September but a knee injury forced her to sit out the start of the season.

The 36-year-old, a former world number one, was granted a wildcard for the singles tournament in Dubai, which begins on Monday.

Kiki Bertens' bid to retain her St Petersburg Ladies Trophy title remains alive but Petra Kvitova's run in Russia came to an end as she pulled out due to illness.

World number eight Bertens defeated teenage qualifier Anastasia Potapova 6-4 7-6 (7-3) having staved off three set points in a second set in which she was 5-2 down.

Bertens will face Ekaterina Alexandrova next after she was handed a walkover when third seed Kvitova withdrew.

Top seed Belinda Bencic was ousted by Maria Sakkari in three sets, with Elena Rybakina beating Oceane Dodin in the other quarter-final.

At the Thailand Open, world number four Elina Svitolina suffered a surprise straight-sets loss to Nao Hibino, who was joined in the semi-finals by Magda Linette, Patricia Maria Tig and Leonie Kung.

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.

Simona Halep continued her imperious form at the Australian Open as she secured a quarter-final spot at the expense of Elise Mertens.

Yet to drop a set at these finals, the fourth seed produced another commanding performance to book a meeting with Anett Kontaveit.

Garbine Muguruza felled another seed, Kiki Bertens beaten in just 69 minutes by the Spaniard, as she reached the last eight in Melbourne for only the second time.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also progressed after a tense battle with 2016 champion Angelique Kerber.

 

KONTAVEIT WINS EPIC TO EARN HALEP SHOWDOWN

Beaten in their previous meeting in Doha last February, Halep had to work hard for a 6-4 6-4 victory over Mertens as she reached the quarter-finals in Australia for the fourth time.

After Mertens recovered from a 3-1 deficit to lead 4-3, Halep went on a six-game winning streak to take the opening set and move 3-0 up in the second.

Mertens rallied again to recover a double break, but Halep battled to move 5-4 ahead before serving out to love.

"Mentally, I think I did a great job today at four-all with those break points, game points," she said. "But in the end, I got the game and then I served very well the last game. I feel like I played a better match than all the matches since I'm here."

Halep now faces Kontaveit, who came through a punishing three-set clash against Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.

Kontaveit recovered to win 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 7-5 to become the first Estonian to reach the quarter-finals of a major.

MUGURUZA POWERS PAST BERTENS 

Muguruza claimed back-to-back wins over top-10 players by beating Bertens 6-3 6-3 to reach a grand slam quarter-final for the first time since the 2018 French Open.

The 26-year-old, who knocked out world number five Elina Svitolina in round three, has an eye on the big prize already after showing too much power for ninth-seed Bertens, hitting 19 winners and six aces. 

"It is very good to be back here," she said. "It is one of the grand slams that one day I would like to win. It's exciting." 

Next for Muguruza will be Pavlyuchenkova, who triumphed 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 over Kerber in two hours and 41 minutes. 

Having lost the first set after surrendering a double break, the Russian fought back to edge a tight second with a thumping return winner on her fifth set point.

The third set was more one-sided as Pavlyuchenkova moved 5-2 up and serving out the match with an ace.

World number one Ashleigh Barty booked her place in the WTA Finals semi-finals, before Belinda Bencic profited as Naomi Osaka's injury replacement Kiki Bertens also retired.

Barty, a debutant at the season-ending tournament, like Bencic, defeated Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-2 to bounce back from defeat to Bertens in her second Red Group match.

The French Open champion made light work of sixth-ranked Kvitova in Thursday's first encounter.

Needing a victory to guarantee her progress, Barty claimed her first win over the Czech in five attempts in confident fashion.

After a break of serve midway through the opening set saw the Australian edge in front, she wrapped up the second in less than 40 minutes with a third match point.

While Kvitova had already been eliminated ahead of facing Barty, the other match was a straight shoot-out for a last-four place between Bencic and Bertens.

And it was the Swiss, having denied Bertens a place in the original field with her victory in Moscow this month, who advanced due to her opponent's retirement with illness.

Bencic started on the front foot but, after failing to take advantage of her first two break points, fell behind at 3-2.

Yet Bencic responded in impressive fashion to take four successive games and the set, before Bertens, who had taken a medical timeout, stated she could not continue, trailing 7-5 1-0.

Barty and Bencic will learn the identity of their semi-final opponents on Friday, with defending champion Elina Svitolina through in the Purple Group as Simona Halep plays Karolina Pliskova for the opportunity to join her.

Kiki Bertens admitted she was quite content sitting on the couch before making a stunning start to the WTA Finals when she was called in as a last-minute alternate.

The Dutchwoman replaced Naomi Osaka after the Japanese injured her shoulder and swiftly made an impact in the Red Group, defeating world number one Ashleigh Barty.

It was a fine display from Bertens in Shenzhen as she battled from a set down to triumph 3-6 6-3 6-4, securing a first win over Barty at the sixth attempt. 

"I was okay sitting on the couch," she laughed when asked about her whirlwind day on Tuesday.

"I was really tired. But then yesterday I just hit for five or 10 minutes. I just rested completely. I think today I felt already much better.

"Of course, it's not like after one day that you're completely back in full energy. As the match was continuing, I felt better and better.

"The movement was getting a bit better. I was starting to feel the court. I could play a little bit more aggressive, come to the net."

World number one Ashleigh Barty suffered a surprise three-set loss to last-minute addition Kiki Bertens at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.

Bertens was called in to take Naomi Osaka's spot after the Japanese suffered a right shoulder injury and the Dutchwoman promptly made an impact in the Red Group.

After losing the first set, Bertens battled back to triumph 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Shenzhen, claiming her first win over Barty at the sixth attempt.

Barty, who came from a set down to win her opening match against Belinda Bencic, was the first player to qualify for the season-ending tournament back in early September but she failed to justify her tag as favourite for the title in a largely disjointed display.

It was a contest in which breaks of serve were frequent and a run of five defined the opener, Barty edging that back-and-forth to nudge ahead.

She was a break up in the second as a similar pattern emerged, but a first-serve percentage of just 41 was always likely to prove problematic and Bertens was producing more winners to further tip the balance in her favour.

With Barty serving at 4-3 down, Bertens sensed her opportunity and was the primary aggressor, striking for the lines and putting the French Open champion on the back foot.

Having fought to take the contest into a third set, Bertens was in no mood to relent and she stormed into a 4-0 lead, even fluffing two break-point openings to make it 5-0.

Despite a rally that saw the gap cut to 4-3, the die was cast and Barty was consigned to defeat in a clash that lasted over two hours.

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