Bianca Andreescu's first match since her US Open triumph went to plan despite a brief wobble against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on Monday.

The Canadian secured a 14th straight win on the WTA Tour as she defeated Sasnovich 6-2 2-6 6-1 at the China Open.

Andreescu proved her mental strength time and again en route to her maiden grand slam success and was required to do more of the same in Beijing, seeing a straightforward opener give way to a gruelling second set.

The fifth seed recovered her composure and raced to victory in the third, setting up a clash with Elise Mertens, who gave her a real test in the Flushing Meadows quarter-finals.

"I felt like in the second set I was too tense. But she was playing really well," Andreescu said. "I think I was just getting down on myself too much.

"I think I play my best tennis when I'm a little bit more relaxed. In the third set I just wanted to stay as positive as I could and just stay relaxed, to continue going for my shots."

Mertens eased past Petra Martic 6-3 6-3 to book that match-up, but there were surprises elsewhere.


HALEP HOPES ENDED

It was announced on Monday that Andreescu and Simona Halep had secured their places in the WTA Finals.

But where Andreescu celebrated with a win to start the final Premier Mandatory tournament of the year, Halep – still troubled by a back issue – came unstuck, the sixth seed beaten 6-2 6-3 by Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Alexandrova reflected: "It was a pretty tough match, but I think she didn't play that well.

"I remember when we played last time in Cincinnati, it was tougher. But I tried to stay focused for the whole match because I knew she could play just amazing."

Jelena Ostapenko upset Karolina Pliskova on Saturday, but her run was also ended as she fell 6-2 6-1 to Katerina Siniakova.


WOZNIACKI WINS OPENER

Caroline Wozniacki has endured a tough 2019, but she marked her return to Beijing with a dominant defeat of Lauren Davis.

The Dane has won the China Open twice - including 12 months ago at the end of an outstanding season - and began her latest bid by beating Davis 6-1 6-3.

Kiki Bertens was another seed to avoid an upset, overcoming teenager Dayana Yastremska 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

"It was tough," Bertens said. "I hadn't played her before but, of course, she hits the ball so hard, so you never really know what you're going to get."

Elina Svitolina battled back impressively in both sets against Wang Yafan to progress courtesy of a pair of tie-breaks.


BENCIC BATTLES BACK

Venus Williams saw her campaign ended by US Open semi-finalist Belinda Bencic.

The 39-year-old took the opener but went down 3-6 6-3 7-5 in the final match of the day.

Madison Keys defeated Karolina Muchova to set up an all-American meeting with Jennifer Brady, who beat 18-year-old compatriot and French Open semi-finalist Amanda Anisimova

Sofia Kenin is set to face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who sunk fellow Russian Veronika Kudermetova 6-0 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina eased their way into the second round of the China Open, though Venus Williams had to battle to secure her place.

Fresh from her victory in the Pan Pacific Open, Osaka overcame Jessica Pegula 6-3 7-6 (7-5), while Wimbledon champion Halep made light work of Rebecca Peterson.

Third seed Svitolina found matters slightly more taxing against Anastasija Sevastova, coming from a set down to win 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 6-2.

Angelique Kerber, too, needed three sets to get the better of Chinese number two Zheng Shuai, though it was former world number one Williams who had the toughest test.

The 39-year-old was 5-3 down to Barbora Strycova in the final set, but clawed her way back to triumph 6-3 4-6 7-5.

Williams' compatriot Sloane Stephens also made it through, while one of China's main hopes - world number 16 Wang Qiang - retired hurt against Ajla Tomljanovic.

FAVOURITES PILE THROUGH

Having seen second seed Karolina Pliskova dumped out by wildcard Jelana Ostapenko on Saturday, Osaka, Halep and Svitolina took no chances in their respective matches.

Two-time grand slam winner Osaka failed to really press home her advantage in the second set against Pegula, though two errors on the bounce from the American handed the former world number one the win.

"I just felt like this match, I was kind of living in the moment every point. I wasn't really thinking too much in the future, too much in the past," said Osaka.

Halep - who had to withdraw from the Wuhan Open with a back injury - found life much easier against Peterson, though Svitolina did have to come from behind to get past Sevastova and set up a round-two tie with Wang Yafan.

WILLIAMS BATTLES BACK FROM THE BRINK

It looked as though Venus Williams would be heading home early when Wimbledon semi-finalist Strycova took a 5-3 lead in the third set, after the Czech had come from behind in their encounter.

Williams had started strongly but faded in the second set, with Strycova winning five straight games to claim it 6-4.

A Williams break looked set to have handed the veteran the edge, but Strycova fought back with a three-game winning streak.

However, despite twice going within two points of victory, Strycova failed to capitalise, Williams clinching a hard-fought win with her second match point. Belinda Bencic awaits in round two.


FORMER CHAMPIONS FALL

Dayana Yastremska stormed into the second round, taking just 55 minutes to beat 2017 Beijing champion Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-1.

Another former winner - Svetlana Kuznetsova - also fell at the first hurdle, with Christina McHale triumphing 6-0 1-6 6-3.

With Garcia and Kuznetsova out and Garbine Muguruza having been defeated by Sofia Kenin on Saturday, only defending champion Caroline Wozniacki - who faces Lauren Davis on Monday - remains of the four previous winners to have featured in the main draw this time around.

There will be no blockbuster semi-final between world number one Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep at the Wuhan Open after the Wimbledon champion retired from her third-round match with Elena Rybakina.

Halep had been on a collision course with French Open champion Barty in the last four having been placed in the same half of the draw.

However, Halep's tournament came to an end on Wednesday as a back injury forced her retirement when trailing 5-4 in the first set to Rybakina, who will next face defending champion Aryna Sabalenka.

Barty came through in relatively comfortable fashion against Sofia Kenin, but there was a shock in the other half of the draw as Dayana Yastremska knocked out Karolina Pliskova, who can now not claim top spot in the rankings at the end of the week.

BARTY BREEZES THROUGH

A tougher test may have been expected against one of the rising stars of the WTA Tour in Kenin, but Barty needed only an hour and 26 minutes to dispatch the 15th seed 6-3 7-5.

The Australian had been a break down in the second set and saved a pair of set points, avoiding a decider to complete a third win in four meetings with Kenin this season.

Assessing her performance, Barty said: "I can sit here and pick my game apart and be super critical, but I also have to be able to take away the really good stuff, the good times that we've been able to get out of these matches - particularly the last 20-odd points today. I felt like I got on a real run there."

Petra Martic awaits Barty in the quarter-finals after seeing off Veronika Kudermetova in straight sets.


SABALENKA ROARS TO FIRST WIN OVER BERTENS

Sabalenka had never previously beaten Kiki Bertens in four attempts before their meeting in Wuhan, and she appeared in danger of throwing away a commanding position as she let slip a 5-1 second-set lead.

The Belarusian spurned four match points but recovered her composure to save a Bertens set point and win the decisive tie-break. 

Her 6-1 7-6 (11-9) success means Sabalenka has won 15 straight sets in Wuhan, rediscovering her enjoyment of competition after travelling to the recent Zhengzhou Open without coach Dmitry Tursunov.

"The tiger is back," she said. "I'm just playing freely, not afraid of anything and just going for shots. Every time before the match I can't wait to go out and to play, and I'm so happy to feel this again."


YASTREMSKA CLAIMS FIRST TOP 10 SCALP

Teenager Yastremska has enjoyed an excellent 2019, winning titles in Hua Hin and Strasbourg while reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon and the third round at the Australian Open and US Open.

She added to an increasingly impressive resume by stunning second seed Pliskova to claim the first top-10 win of her fledgling career.

The 19-year-old needed only 64 minutes to surge to a 6-1 6-4 win. Yastremska did not drop serve and hit 26 winners to just 15 unforced errors to put Pliskova's hopes of displacing Barty on hold.

Yastremska will face Petra Kvitova for a place in the semi-finals after the two-time champion overcame Sloane Stephens 6-3 6-3. The other quarter-final will see Elina Svitolina take on Alison Riske after their wins over Svetlana Kuznetsova and Wang Qiang respectively.

Simona Halep revealed a back injury led to her retirement against Elena Rybakina in the Wuhan Open third round on Wednesday.

The Romanian world number six was trailing the wildcard 5-4 when she retired at the WTA Premier event.

Halep, who suffered a back injury late last year, said she felt pain during the ninth game of the match.

"It's a lower back [injury]. I think it's more muscle, but I don't know yet because I didn't check it properly," she told reporters, via the WTA.

"[At] 4-4, 0-30, with the backhand. I had a sharp pain.

"I don't know yet [if it's the same as the previous injury]. It looks a little bit different but it's still the same zone."

Halep has enjoyed a fine 2019 season, including winning the Wimbledon title in July.

Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep all progressed on a day of few shocks at the Wuhan Open.

There were occasional scares for the big names, with world number one Barty worked hard by Caroline Garcia, but only Belinda Bencic came up short out of the seeded players.

Elina Svitolina was also triumphant, beating 2015 finalist Garbine Muguruza in straight sets.

 

BARTY GETS REVENGE

​Barty – then playing just her third WTA Tour final, was beaten by Garcia in the 2017 Wuhan championship match – belatedly got her revenge, as top seed, on Tuesday.

It looked for a time as though the Australian might be in trouble again, as she dropped the first set and faced a break point in the first game of the second.

But Barty showed grit to come through that lengthy game, pinching the set at the last and then easing to a 4-6 6-4 6-1 win.

"I had to make some small adjustments in the second set," she said. "[The first set] was just kind of ebbing and flowing a little bit. Caro played the bigger points better.

"It was just about me being a little bit smarter with my serving and trying to be in control in those first couple of points."

 

HALEP LOOKING FORWARD

Halep improved to a 6-0 head-to-head record against Barbora Strycova in a comfortable triumph, 6-3 6-2.

The Romanian said: "It's never easy to play against her, but I'm confident every time because I have a few matches won against her, so it's a good thing for me.

"It's a good start," Halep added. "I'm looking forward to the next one."

Pliskova was also ultimately comfortable against Amanda Anisimova, recovering from being broken in her first service games of either set to beat the dangerous teenager 6-3 6-3.

 

BERTENS, KENIN ALSO RALLY

​​Barty was not the only star required to dig deep on Tuesday, as Kiki Bertens and Sofia Kenin each also came from a set down to progress.

Bertens avoided a shock against Bernarda Pera, winning 3-6 6-4 6-2 to set up a meeting with defending champion Aryna Sabalenka, while Kenin saw off Elise Mertens in three.

Sloane Stephens needed three sets to get through, as did Alison Riske, Petra Martic, Elena Rybakina and Veronika Kudermetova, who upset Bencic 2-6 6-3 6-4 in the final match of the day.

There were wins elsewhere for Wang Qiang, Dayana Yastremska and Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Simona Halep has announced Darren Cahill will return to coach the Wimbledon champion for the 2020 season.

Cahill split with Halep last November to take a one-year coaching hiatus, enabling him to spend more time with his family in Australia.

Two-time major winner Halep on Thursday revealed that long-time coach Cahill will be back in her corner next year.

The Romanian posted on social media: "I have some exciting news to share with you. After a year without him on my team, I'm happy to announce that Darren will be back by my side next season."

Halep added: "So, D, last time I killed you, and I'm playing to kill you again. I can't wait to finish what we started. See you soon!"

Former world number one Halep had a short spell working with Thierry van Cleemput after Cahill opted to take a break.

Halep won her first major title at the French Open last year and doubled her tally at the All England Club in July.

 

 

Serena Williams' quest for a 24th grand slam title continues after she succumbed to an inspired performance by teenage sensation Bianca Andreescu in the US Open final.

The 19-year-old Canadian capped an extraordinary rise in 2019 by clinching the final slam of the season at Flushing Meadows with a 6-3 7-5 victory, maintaining her incredible run of having never lost to a top-10 player.

While it was Andreescu this time around, it was Naomi Osaka who beat Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium in 2018, with the 37-year-old having been stuck on 23 victories – one shy of Margaret Court's record – since January 2017.

For a spell in a dramatic second set, it looked as though Williams had the upper hand, but Andreescu held firm to condemn her opponent to a fourth successive grand slam final defeat.

KERBER PROVES TOO MUCH AT WIMBLEDON

Williams was around eight weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open against her sister Venus in January 2017 and, after pulling out of the Indian Wells and Miami Opens, the then world number one confirmed she was expecting her first child.

She returned to tennis in 2018, making her grand slam comeback at Roland Garros. However, it was at Wimbledon that Williams got back into her grand slam stride, until she met Angelique Kerber, who was in no mood to give up on a chance to clinch a maiden Wimbledon crown and won 6-3 6-3. 

"To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried," said an emotional Williams, just 10 months after giving birth.  

CONTROVERSY OVERSHADOWS OSAKA'S TRIUMPH

Osaka's sensational triumph should have been the main story from the 2018 US Open final, but unfortunately Williams stole the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Williams' tournament ended in controversy, as she received a game penalty in the second set after she had reacted badly to a code violation issued by the chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

She demanded an apology from Ramos, who Williams accused of being a "liar" and a "thief" after she received a further two violations for smashing her racket and abusing the umpire.

HALEP SHOWS NO MERCY

After a quarter-final defeat in Melbourne and a round-of-32 exit in Paris, Williams returned to grand slam contention as she charged to the final at Wimbledon earlier this year.   But former world number one Simona Halep put in one of the best – if not the best – performances of her career to brush her opponent aside 6-2 6-2, taking just 56 minutes to do so.   "I don't think it's a surprise for anyone to play great against me," Williams said. "When someone plays lights out, there's really not much you can do. You just have to understand that that was their day today."

NO FAIRYTALE IN NEW YORK

A chance at Flushing Meadows redemption came in Saturday's final. Osaka had been reduced to tears at the end of the 2018 final, in part it seemed due to the partisan crowd in Williams' favour that day, with the youngster apologising for beating the fan favourite.

However, despite equally vociferous support at Arthur Ashe, Williams could not muster enough to beat the exceptional Andreescu.

A stunning recovery seemed on when Williams fought back from 5-1 down to draw level in the second set, but Andreescu – who was not born when Williams won the 1999 title – regained her composure to seal a memorable victory on her major final debut.

Simona Halep suffered a huge shock at the US Open at the hands of Taylor Townsend as Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka booked a mouth-watering third-round clash in New York.

Halep had been considered one of the favourites for the women's singles title but saw a one-set lead snatched away by Townsend, who produced a thrilling comeback to claim the biggest win of her career on Thursday.

Townsend will face another Romanian, Sorana Cirstea, next but the match of the third round pits defending champion and world number one Osaka against 15-year-old Gauff, who once again delighted the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd by winning a brutal battle with Timea Babos in two hours, 23 minutes.

She becomes the youngest woman to reach round three since 1996 will face a champion in fine form after Osaka made short work of Magda Linette as her defence continued at pace.

Osaka's hopes of retaining the crown have been boosted by Halep's exit, and sixth seed Petra Kvitova has also been removed as a potential obstacle after her loss to Andrea Petkovic.

 

HALEP SHORT ON INSPIRATION

Townsend came to the net over 100 times against Halep, an aggressive tactic that worked superbly in her stunning 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) comeback.

Halep, though, felt a difference in inspiration levels was key. She told a media conference: "She was very inspired of every ball. She came a lot to the net and didn't miss much. It's unbelievable.

"I was not inspired at all today, but I fought. I thought when I came back that I will take it and I will win it. But sometimes it goes the other way."

Kvitova was also left to reflect on what might have been after her 6-4 6-4 defeat to Petkovic, while ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka was knocked out 6-3 7-6 (7-3) by Yulia Putintseva, who followed up her Wimbledon win over Osaka to knock out a top-10 seed for the second straight slam.

Seventh seed Kiki Bertens, however, is through after a 7-5 6-4 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Belinda Bencic and Anastasija Sevastova were three-set winners over Alize Cornet and Iga Swiatek respectively and Johanna Konta thrashed Margarita Gasparyan 6-1 6-0.


HOME HOPES SPRING ETERNAL

Townsend's success was the headline act of a day defined by victories for young Americans on the women's side.

It was Gauff, though, who closed out the day's action and did so in typically engrossing fashion. The teenager again went the distance and willed her way to a 6-2 4-6 6-4 triumph, showcasing her incredible movement, repertoire of shots and composure to a raucous home crowd.

Sofia Kenin dished out a bagel in her 7-6 (7-4) 6-0 win over Laura Siegemund, while Kristie Ahn needed eight match points to complete her 6-2 6-3 defeat of Anna Kalinskaya.

Danielle Collins threatened an upset against two-time Flushing Meadows finalist Caroline Wozniacki, but eventually went down 4-6 6-3 6-4 as the 2018 Australian Open champion set up a match with another of the game's brightest talents, Bianca Andreescu, who beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-3 7-5.

"I kind of know what to expect if I play her. I know that she's an incredible fighter," Andreescu said of Wozniacki. "She runs every ball down, and I know that it's not going to be easy. I'm just going to go out there and play my game."

 

BENCIC ASKS QUESTIONS OF VEKIC

Donna Vekic had to wait for the reporters to be ready for her in the media room after her 7-5 6-3 victory over Kaia Kanepi, giving Bencic the chance to put her through her paces in an impromptu interview.

The Croatian has plenty of reasons to be cheerful after reaching the third round in New York for only the second time.

Joining her in round three is Karolina Muchova, who eliminated 29th seed Hsieh Su-Wei 6-1 4-6 7-6 (7-2) but will now have to recover quickly as she faces 23-time grand slam winner Serena Williams on Friday.

Maria Sakkari will have a similarly quick turnaround in facing second seed Ashleigh Barty after overcoming Peng Shuai 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2.

Elsewhere in the draw, Wang Qiang overcame Alison van Uytvanck, Anett Kontaveit fought back against Ajla Tomljanovic and Elise Mertens, Petra Martic and Julia Goerges were also victorious. 

Taylor Townsend believes her stunning second-round US Open victory over Simona Halep was a "monumental moment" in proving to herself that she belongs on the biggest stage.

Townsend came from a set down to produce a thrilling comeback and eliminate the Wimbledon champion 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The 23-year-old qualifier, once a world number one in the junior ranks, has faced criticism over her inability to progress from that point.

Townsend suffered a heart-breaking defeat to Kiki Bertens at Wimbledon, spurning match point with a poor drop shot, and was visibly emotional after claiming her third match point against fourth seed Halep to earn the biggest win of her career.

"Just to be able to get over the hump, it's such an amazing feeling because, like, I mean, after Wimbledon, I was devastated after I lost to Bertens after having a match point," Townsend told a media conference. "That, like, woke me up out of my sleep. Oh, drop shot.

"I put my head down and just worked really hard and just tried to take the positives away from it, just continue to press forward. I think for so long that's been kind of my whole thing, is just continue to press forward and just realise that I belong on this level. I've had a lot of people doubting me being able to break through, quote unquote.

"It's just confirmation more for myself that I'm on the right path, doing the right things. You keep your head down and keep working and you see what happens.

"I just feel like this was a huge, monumental moment. It was a very defining moment for me to realise that I belong here."

Afterwards Halep revealed Townsend had asked her for advice after the Romanian emphatically beat her in Miami.

"My heart was beating through my chest when I talked to her because I'm not that kind of person at all. That's just not anything that I would do," Townsend said of their conversation.

"She gave me some good advice. Honestly, she didn't really tell me anything I didn't know, but it was good to hear it from another player, someone I just played, played a couple of times. Especially someone who is at such a high level, has accomplished so much.

"I don't know why I did it, but I did it. It kind of stuck with me. I'm not saying that everything she said I implemented into my training, but it was definitely in the back of my head to remember what she said and also remember why I asked, what drove me to ask that question, kind of that hunger and desire to get better."

"I think I kind of turned that into more of a positive to say, Hey, you can continue to learn and grow."

Taylor Townsend pulled off the biggest shock of the US Open as she came from a set down to stun fourth seed Simona Halep in the second round.

Wimbledon champion Halep was expected to have few problems against the qualifier and world number 116, but was on the end of a remarkable comeback as Townsend prevailed 2-6 6-3 7-6 (7-4) on Thursday.

Halep took the first set in dominant fashion, but Townsend found inspiration in the second set and brought the Arthur Ashe crowd to life in New York.

The former girls number one demonstrated outstanding reflexes at the net and took the contest to Halep as she set up a decider.

Townsend has to this point been unable to deliver on the potential she displayed as a junior, but she continued on the attack and punished the Halep second serve, breaking to love in game five.

Having only once previously reached the third round of a grand slam, any nerves on Townsend's part would have been understandable.

They promptly showed up as she let three match points go begging when serving for the match as Halep found her best tennis in the closing moments.

However, Halep wasted a match point of her own, setting up a frenetic tie-break that was settled when the Romanian fired into the net to an eruption from the home crowd as an emotional Townsend raised her arms and celebrated the biggest win of her career.

 

US Open champion Naomi Osaka was forced to dig deep in her first-round match, while former winner Sloane Stephens was a surprise casualty in New York.

Returning to the scene of her maiden grand slam title, world number one Osaka outlasted Anna Blinkova in three sets on Tuesday.

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff also reached round two, but Stephens headlined the exits.

 

OSAKA OVERCOMES NERVES IN NEW YORK OPENER

Top seed Osaka edged unseeded opponent Blinkova 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 in an unconvincing display at Flushing Meadows.

Osaka was not at her best, tallying 50 unforced errors, but the two-time grand slam champion still managed to book a second-round date with Magda Linette.

"I don't think I've ever been so nervous in my life," Osaka said during her on-court interview. "I don't think I ever really found my rhythm, but I just fought as hard as I can."

 

HALEP HANDLES LUCKY LOSER

Romanian star and fourth seed Halep prevailed 6-3 3-6 6-2 against lucky loser Nicole Gibbs.

Halep produced when it mattered most as she avoided becoming only the second player in the Open Era to follow up victory at Wimbledon with a first-round loss in New York.

Next up for Halep is qualifier Taylor Townsend, who rallied past Kateryna Kozlova 3-6 6-3 6-2.

Wozniacki, meanwhile, came from a set down to see off Wang Yafan 1-6 7-5 6-3 in an opening-round scare.

Runner-up in 2009 and 2014, 19th seed Wozniacki meets Danielle Collins in the second round after the 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist defeated Polona Hercog 6-3 4-6 6-4.

 

GAUFF'S STAR CONTINUES TO SHINE

The fairytale story of Wimbledon, Gauff fought past fellow teenager Anastasia Potapova 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Gauff rose to stardom at Wimbledon earlier this year, making the fourth round at the All England Club.

The American sensation emerged triumphant in her main-draw debut at her home major on Tuesday thanks to seven breaks of serve.

"It was crazy," said Gauff, who will play qualifier Timea Babos after 28th seed Carla Suarez Navarro retired at the end of the first set. "Obviously I was nervous going out on the court. It's such a big court. Then my home slam, so I wanted to do well. The crowd really helped me the whole match. Like, it was really a great atmosphere to play in and a great experience for me."

 

KALINSKAYA SLAYS SLOANE

There was a major upset in New York, where 2017 champion Stephens was sensationally eliminated 6-3 6-4 by qualifier Anna Kalinskaya.

Stephens hoped to enjoy another deep run at Flushing Meadows after reuniting with long-time coach Kamau Murray but Kalinskaya had other plans for the 11th seed.

Two-time grand slam winner and 24th seed Garbine Muguruza also fell at the first hurdle, knocked out 2-6 6-1 6-3 by Alison Riske.

Svetlana Kuznetsova – the 2004 champion – went down 7-5 6-2 to Kristie Ahn, while two-time finalist and former world number one Victoria Azarenka lost 3-6 6-3 6-4 to ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Darren Cahill says Simona Halep can take her game to another level and has backed the two-time grand slam champion to mount a strong challenge for a maiden US Open title.

Halep doubled her tally of major triumphs by demolishing Serena Williams with an imperious performance to win Wimbledon for the first time last month.

The 2018 French Open champion has suffered first-round defeats at Flushing Meadows in each of the past two years but is among the leading contenders to win the final grand slam of the year.

Cahill, the world number four's former coach who still spends time working with the amiable Romanian, says there is more to come from Halep.

"I think Simona can get better, absolutely, and she has a great chance at Flushing Meadows," Cahill, who will work as a commentator for ESPN at the US Open, told Omnisport.

"She's only 27 and, as we've seen over this generation in both the men's and the women's game, a lot of the players are playing their very best tennis in their early 30s, so age is not really a problem for her.

"She's been one of the most hungry tennis players I've ever met, which is part of the reason I decided to work with her when she asked four years ago.

"I could see in her eyes that desire to be as good as she could possibly be and her work ethic is second to none. She dedicates herself 100 per cent to her tennis, that comes before everything else, and that's part of the reason she's been as successful as she has.

"Winning a couple of majors has been great for her, but I think she still views every single tournament exactly as she has done before. She'll take the approach that, 'I'm here, I'm ready and if I play my best tennis, I've got a great chance of winning'."

Cahill believes last year's runner-up Williams is a worthy favourite but thinks up to 20 players are capable of being crowned US Open champion.

"Simona is coming in refreshed, relaxed about the year she's had after winning Wimbledon and she's confident." he added.

"I think it's wide open. The bookies have Serena as the favourite, but then she has an incredibly difficult draw against [Maria] Sharapova in the first round - even though she has a great record against Maria.

"Maria is always the type of player who will rise to the occasion, so it will be a difficult one.

"If Serena plays her best I'm confident she would win that and then she has to go into any major as a slight favourite with the record that she has.

"Beyond that there are 15-20 players who you would not be surprised if they win it - such is the depth of the game on the women's side and the professionalism has improved out of sight over the last 10 years."

Madison Keys ended Simona Halep's chances of reaching another Western & Southern Open final, while Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty battled through.

A three-time runner-up in Cincinnati, Halep was edged by Keys at the WTA Premier event on Thursday.

The Romanian became the first top-four seed to fall, with Barty, Osaka and Karolina Pliskova booking their spots in the quarter-finals.

 

KEYS EDGES HALEP IN THRILLER

Keys, the American 16th seed, served 10 aces on her way to a 6-1 3-6 7-5 victory over fourth seed Halep in the third round.

Halep came from 3-0 down in the final set and saved a match point in the 10th game, but Keys broke again to claim her win.

Having lost finals in Cincinnati in 2015, 2017 and 2018, Halep fell short of reaching another decider.

Keys will face Venus Williams after the American veteran beat Donna Vekic 2-6 6-3 6-3.

 

BARTY, OSAKA MOVE THROUGH

Barty was pushed before getting past Anett Kontaveit 4-6 7-5 7-5 in two hours, 10 minutes.

The Australian found herself 5-3 down in the final set before winning four straight games to advance.

Barty will meet Maria Sakkari, who upset Belarusian ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4.

Osaka was also forced to three sets by Hsieh Su-wei before claiming a 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-2 victory.

Awaiting the Japanese star in the last eight is Sofia Kenin, who beat Elina Svitolina for the second time in as many tournaments with a 6-3 7-6 (7-3) victory.

 

PLISKOVA, KUZNETSOVA PROGRESS

Pliskova, the 2016 champion, is yet to drop a set and was too good for qualifier Rebecca Peterson 7-5 6-4.

The Czech will meet Svetlana Kuznetsova after the 34-year-old wildcard crushed Sloane Stephens 6-1 6-2.

Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep battled into the last 16 at the Western & Southern Open, while Ashleigh Barty crushed Maria Sharapova.

Osaka is back at world number one and the Japanese star moved through her second-round match at the WTA Premier event in Cincinnati on Wednesday.

Like Osaka, Halep – a three-time runner-up – was tested, while Barty needed less than 90 minutes to thrash Sharapova.

 

OSAKA, HALEP PUSHED TO THREE

Osaka needed more than two hours to overcome Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6 (7-3) 2-6 6-2 in the second round.

She had won her previous three meetings with the Belarusian in straight sets, but was pushed at the hard-court tournament.

Osaka will next face Hsieh Su-wei, who got past qualifier Jennifer Brady 7-6 (11-9) 6-3.

Halep, a finalist at the event in 2015, 2017 and 2018, came from a set and a break down to beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6 7-5 6-4.

The Romanian will meet Madison Keys, who eased past Daria Kasatkina 6-4 6-1.

 

BARTY BRUSHES PAST SHARAPOVA

A surprise last-32 loser at the Rogers Cup, Barty dominated Sharapova in a 6-4 6-1 victory.

The Australian broke serve four times during her 40th win of the season while continuing Sharapova's rough 2019.

Sharapova, a five-time grand slam champion, holds just an 8-6 win-loss record in 2019.

Barty will meet Anett Kontaveit, who was too good for Polish teenager Iga Swiatek 6-4 7-6 (7-2).

 

PLISKOVA, SVITOLINA THROUGH ON GOOD DAY FOR SEEDS

Champion in 2016, Karolina Pliskova was untroubled by Wang Yafan, winning 6-1 6-3.

Meanwhile, Aryna Sabalenka, the ninth seed, cruised past Zheng Saisai 6-4 6-3.

Elina Svitolina will face Sofia Kenin after their 6-4 6-1 wins over Elise Mertens and Zarina Diyas respectively, while Sloane Stephens and Donna Vekic – who beat Victoria Azarenka – progressed along with Svetlana Kuznetsova and Rebecca Peterson.

Serena Williams is the last seed standing at the Rogers Cup as defending champion Simona Halep made a quarter-final exit on Friday.

Williams was in impressive form as she powered past Naomi Osaka in their first meeting since last year's controversial US Open final.

The American great is the only seed into the last four, with Halep's title defence coming to an end at the WTA Premier tournament.

 

WILLIAMS WONDERFUL AGAINST OSAKA

Williams has apologised for her meltdown at Flushing Meadows last year and the 23-time grand slam champion produced a brilliant display against Osaka.

Osaka had won her previous two matches against Williams in straight sets, but the 37-year-old secured a 6-3 6-4 victory over the Japanese star on Friday.

Williams may have been expecting to face Halep in a rematch of their Wimbledon final, but the Romanian bowed out against Marie Bouzkova.

The Czech qualifier continued her run, winning the first set 6-4 when Halep retired injured.

PLISKOVA, SVITOLINA STUNNED

Karolina Pliskova also exited in the quarter-finals, suffering a 6-0 2-6 6-4 loss to Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

That result meant Osaka, who later lost to Williams, will replace Ashleigh Barty atop the world rankings.

Andreescu will face Sofia Kenin after the American upset Ukrainian sixth seed Elina Svitolina 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

At 37, Williams is by far the oldest player left in the draw, with the others – Bouzkova (21), Andreescu (19) and Kenin (20) all under 22.

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