Simona Halep, a three-time runner up in Cincinnati, claimed her first win since May by overcoming Magda Linette 6-4 3-6 6-0.

The 12th seed has just returned from a calf muscle tear which saw her miss the French Open and Wimbledon, and was defeated by Danielle Collins in Montreal last week.

However, at 1-4 down in the second set she required medical attention for what she described as a "sharp pain" in her right leg, but after a rain delay, the Romanian came out of the blocks to claim a third-set bagel.

Halep progressed to the Round of 32 where she will play American Jessica Pegula.

Sunday's breakthrough National Bank Open winner Camila Giorgo was beaten in straight sets by Pegula 6-2 6-2.

Former world number one Victoria Azarenka needed only one hour and nine minutes to dispose of Ludmilla Samsonova and seal her spot in the last 32.

The Belarussian triumphed 6-2 6-3 over the Russian, dominating her first serve and breaking Samsonova five times throughout the match.

Tokyo 2020 gold medalist Belinda Bencic eased past Marketa Vondrousova 6-3 7-5 continuing her bright recent run, winning in one hour and 27 minutes.

In the final match of the day's play, Caroline Garcia defeated 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 6-4 in two hours and 33 minutes.

Dayana Yastremska, Bernarda Pera, Karolina Muchova, Ons Jabeur, Elena Rybakina, Veronika Kudermetova and Coco Gauff were all winners too.

Two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep's return to the WTA Tour ended in defeat to American Danielle Collins in almost three hours in the National Bank Open in Montreal on Wednesday.

World number 28 Collins triumphed 2-6 6-4 6-4 over the sixth seed Romanian, with the second-round match lasting two hours and 55 minutes.

Halep, who is a two-time winner in Montreal, was returning to the Tour for the first time in three months since suffering a calf tear against Angelique Kerber in Rome.

Collins, who has won titles recently in San Jose and Palermo, loomed as a tough first-up test for Halep, who broke twice to win the first set 6-2 as she generated eight break points to one.

The game turned from then on, as Collins sent down 4-1 aces in the second set and finished with 38 winners for the match.

Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist and third seed Elina Svitolina was bundled out in a second-round shock, losing 3-6 6-3 6-2 to Briton Johanna Konta.

Svitolina boasted a 5-0 record against Konta heading into the match but was beaten in a two-hour-and-11-minute struggle.

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka defeated former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in three sets to secure her third-round spot.

Sabalenka fought back from the brink, rallying to win the last five games and triumph 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-4 over the American wildcard in a two hours and 25 minutes.

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova came from behind to win 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2) over Donna Vekic, while Jessica Pegula also fought back after a slow start to topple 10th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 1-6 6-3 6-2.

Greek 11th seed Maria Sakkari won in three sets 6-4 6-7 6-4 over Veronika Kudermetova, while 13th seed Ons Jabeur responded after a lopsided first set to win 2-6 6-3 6-4 over Daria Kasatkina.

Cori Gauff progressed after being 5-0 up as Anastasia Potapova retired, while Amanda Anisimova, Camila Giorgi, Rebecca Marino and Sara Sorribes Tormo all won too.

Canadian local hope Marino will take on top seed Sabalenka, while Gauff faces Svitolina's conqueror Konta.

Andrea Petkovic claimed her first singles title on the WTA Tour in over six years thanks to an emphatic victory over Mayar Sherif at the Winners Open.

Petkovic was far too strong for her Egyptian opponent in Sunday's final, easing to a 6-1 6-1 triumph after just over an hour on court in Cluj-Napoca.

The impressive result sealed the German a seventh tournament win in her career, though she had not reigned at an event since her success in Antwerp back in February 2015.

Sherif had become the first Egyptian to reach a singles final on the WTA Tour and received praise from her opponent during the presentation ceremony.

"This has been a great week, but not only that, what's really important is you're paving the ground for all the girls in a part of the world which doesn't appreciate tennis as much as we do here in Europe," Petkovic said to the 25-year-old.

"It's so much more important than winning every title every week, though I'm sure you will get there as well. 

"Just being out there competing, being the first Egyptian woman to make a WTA final, to break into the top 100, I think that's incredible. I want to congratulate you on that – keep going."

Petkovic raced into a 5-0 lead in the opening set before Sherif held serve; she also survived two break points to move ahead at the start of the second.

However, the second seed reeled off the next six games in a row, clinching the result with a forehand winner.

Top seed Danielle Collins sealed her first WTA singles title on Sunday with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Elena-Gabriela Ruse at the Palermo Open.

American Collins, who was top-seeded at a WTA tournament for the first time, did not drop a set all week on her way to a memorable win in Sicily. 

Collins had lost all six of her previous tour-level semi-finals, but she showed superb composure to brush aisde world number 137 Ruse with the minimum of fuss in one hour and 50 minutes. 

The victory meant she became the 14th first-time singles champion on the WTA Tour this season, on the same day Maryna Zanevska became the 13th maiden winner in Gdynia. 

"After everything I've been through, moments where I almost thought about retiring, and after everything we've gone through with the pandemic, it's nice to be able to see the crowd in the stands again," Collins said.

 

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova continued her impressive form as she advanced to the Prague Open quarter-finals following a straight-sets victory over Ysaline Bonaventure.

The second seed has now won 17 of her last 18 matches, having also triumphed in Strasbourg prior to her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros last month.

The Czech is also yet to drop a set in her home event after a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 success over world number 127 Bonaventure.

Krejcikova set up a clash with doubles partner Katerina Siniakova in the quarter-finals.

After her showdown with Tereza Smitkova was suspended during their final set on Wednesday, the fifth seed wasted no time in wrapping up a 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 win.

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova made light work of qualifier Isabella Shinikova to start her Prague Open campaign with a win.

Following her triumph in Paris, Krejcikova made it to the round of 16 at Wimbledon only to lose to eventual champion Ash Barty.

Krejcikova will be representing the Czech Republic at the Tokyo Olympics, and is using this home tournament as a warm-up event.

The second seed defeated Shinikova 6-2 6-3 to tee up a second-round tie with Ysaline Bonaventure. With Petra Kvitova already out, Krejcikova will be hoping to seal a third singles title of her career.

Compatriot and fourth seed Marie Bouzkova did not fare well, however, as the fourth seed slumped 3-6 6-4 6-2 to world number 141 Storm Sanders.

Fellow Czechs Katerina Siniakova and Tereza Martincova did progress, beating Jodie Burrage and Samantha Murray Sharan respectively.

While Krejcikova will look to take advantage of a weakened field and prepare for the Olympics in ideal fashion, one player who will not be at the Games is Johanna Konta.

The British number one said on Tuesday she had withdrawn from Tokyo 2020 after testing positive for COVID-19 and seeing her tennis fitness suffer, having also had to pull out of Wimbledon. Konta, who is not in action this week, described the blow as "a heart-breaking reality".

At the Hungarian Grand Prix, third seed Bernarda Pera had to come from behind to beat Julia Grabher – ranked at 201 – 5-7 6-1 6-2.

Pera, who joins a fellow American seed, Danielle Collins, in round two, will next face Anhelina Kalinina.

Irina-Camelia Begu, a finalist in Budapest 10 years ago, will not be making a repeat trip to the title match, the fourth seed losing 6-3 6-4 on Tuesday to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Meanwhile, at the Lausanne Open, fourth seed Camila Giorgi scored a ruthless 6-2 6-0 win over Norway's Ulrikke Eikeri.

Jelena Ostapenko has targeted a return to the top 10 of the WTA rankings after beating Anett Kontaveit in straight sets to win the Viking International in Eastbourne.

The Latvian was the first wildcard to reach the final since Daniela Hantuchova in 2000 and kept up her good form ahead of Wimbledon by beating Kontaveit 6-3 6-3.

French Open 2017 winner Ostapenko dominated from the start and picked up the victory in one hour and five minutes, adding to her three previous career WTA titles.

She has now won titles on all four surfaces – clay, hard, indoor and grass – and is hopeful of improving on her current ranking of 43rd in the world.

"I think it says that I can be dangerous and playing well on all surfaces probably," she said in her on-court interview. 

"Of course I enjoy to play more on just some of them, but in general I can adjust well to different surfaces.

"I think this is just the beginning for me. If I keep playing the way I played this tournament, I think I can be back in top 10 and play well.

"I just have to keep that in my mind and work even harder."

Ostapenko made good use of her strong service game to break Kontaveit's serve in the third and fifth games.

Kontaveit earned a first break in the eighth game with four service return winners in a row, but Ostapenko recovered from 40-15 in the next game to take the opening set.

It was then plain sailing for Ostapenko in the second set as she earned the only break at 2-1 and held for the remainder, clinching the victory with her second championship point.

Ostapenko will face Leylah Fernandez in the first round of Wimbledon next week.

Angelique Kerber defeated Katerina Siniakova in straight sets on Saturday to win the inaugural Bad Homburg Open and end her three-year wait for a title.

The number four seed, whose last tournament triumph was at Wimbledon in 2018, prevailed 6-3 6-2 on home soil in a time of one hour and 25 minutes for her 13th career WTA singles crown. 

Kerber overcame Amanda Anisimova and top seed Petra Kvitova on Friday to reach her first final in two years but took time to get going against Siniakova, who won her only two career titles in 2017.

Siniakova broke Kerber's serve in the third game, only for the German to quickly respond by taking the next game as the pair continued to exchange blows.

World number 28 Kerber slowly found her rhythm and opened up a two-game lead at 5-3, but she had to save three break points before Siniakova fired into the net to concede the opening set.

The second set played out in a similar manner to begin with as Siniakova battled back after losing serve in the first game to level at 2-2 against her former world number one opponent.

But Kerber showed her quality by reeling off four games in a row and getting over the line with her third match point to add to her trophy collection.

The victory for the 33-year-old was her 75th on grass, which is the third most among active players behind Serena and Venus Williams.

Kerber is seeded 25th for Wimbledon and will face Nina Stojanovic in the first round next week.

"Everyone knows that I love to play on grass, I really feel well," she said in her on-court interview. 

"I had some great matches. The goal was to have some good matches to prepare for Wimbledon. Let's see and hope I can continue this next week."

Angelique Kerber won two games on Friday to progress to the final of the inaugural Bad Homburg Open, with unseeded Katerina Siniakova her opponent.

Kerber made home advantage count, following up a 2-6 6-3 6-3 quarter-final win over Amanda Anisimova – a match that was pushed back from Thursday when rain washed out play – with a triumph over top seed Petra Kvitova.

The former world number one came back from behind to win 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) and take a spot in her first WTA singles final since 2019.

Kerber and Kvitova have now met 15 times, with the German winning on nine occasions.

She will go up against an unexpected finalist in the form of Siniakova, who defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The Czech is the world number two in doubles, winning three grand slam titles in that format, and will be looking to replicate the feat of her regular partner Barbora Krejcikova, who triumphed at the French Open this year.

At the Viking International in Eastbourne, Jelena Ostapenko made light work of Elena Rybakina, while Anett Kontaveit made it into the final due to Camila Giorgi's retirement.

Latvian wildcard Ostapenko finished her 6-4 6-1 victory with zero double faults – the first time she has managed such a performance since winning in Luxembourg two years ago.

"I'm really happy with the way I played this week, and every match I played better and better," Ostapenko told a news conference after clinching a spot in her ninth career final.

"It's been a while [since making a] final, so I'm really happy to be in a final and looking forward to tomorrow's match."

The 2017 French Open champion will face Estonia's Kontaveit, who has won their previous two meetings and was 5-4 up in the opening set against Giorgi when her opponent retired hurt.

"It's actually nice to have a Baltic final, because [we're] not such big countries, but we still have good players," Ostapenko added.

"Anett, I know since juniors. We have been playing a lot, maybe not so many matches but we practice sometimes together, in juniors, and played even doubles. So I know her quite well."

Marie Bouzkova crashed out of the Nottingham Open at the hands of home hope Katie Boulter, but Kristina Mladenovic survived a scare to progress.

Briton Boulter, ranked 262 in the world, triumphed 6-4 6-3 on Wednesday to impressively eliminate sixth seed Bouzkova, who was only able to convert one of her seven break-point opportunities.

Seventh seed Mladenovic, meanwhile, fought hard for a 6-2 5-7 6-2 triumph in a battle lasting two hours and 15 minutes against Japan's Kurumi Nara.

Nara converted all four of her break points but ultimately could not pull off the upset.

There were more comfortable days on court for Alison Van Uytvanck – who thrashed Marina Melnikova 6-1 6-1 – and fourth seed Zhang Shuai, a 6-3 6-4 victor over Arina Rodionova.

American Caty McNally continued her progress with an easy 6-0 6-3 win over Nao Hibino to book what looks like an exciting last-16 tie against Mladenovic.

Second seed Alison Riske will play Xiyu Wang in the last match of the day, while top seed Johanna Konta continues her campaign against Kateryna Kozlova on Thursday.

 

Top seed Johanna Konta started her grass-court season with a straight-sets victory over Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove in the second round of the Nottingham Open.

Konta parted with her coach Dimitri Zavialoff for a second time after crashing out of the French Open at the hands of Sorana Cirstea in the first round.

The British number one was back in business on home soil on Tuesday, dispatching Pattinama Kerkhove 6-1 6-3.

Kateryna Kozlova will be Konta's next opponent after she upset 13th seed Madison Brengle 6-3 5-7 6-3.

Donna Vekic, the third seed from Croatia, breezed into the third round with a 7-5 6-1 success over Leonie Kung.

Viktorija Golubic also progressed, having won the first set 6-1 before Kristie Ahn retired, while Nina Stojanovic got the better of Oceane Dodin 7-6 (7-4) 7-5.

Georgina Garcia Perez fought back to knock out 18th seed Christina McHale, and there were also wins for Tereza Martincova and Zarina Diyas.

 

 

 

 

Simona Halep will play in the inaugural Bad Homburg Open as she aims to return to fitness ahead of defending her Wimbledon title.

World number three and two-time grand slam winner Halep last month withdrew from the French Open after sustaining a calf injury.

The Romanian is targeting a return in time for the grass-court swing and will feature at the new WTA 250 event in Germany.

Designed with preparation for Wimbledon in mind, the Bad Homburg Open will run from June 20-26.

Halep, who has accepted a wildcard, is one of three former Wimbledon winners to be participating, alongside Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova.

"I have some good news to share with you," Halep said in a video posted to her official Twitter account.

"I am super excited to announce that I will be playing for the first edition in Bad Homburg and I am looking forward to seeing all of the fans in the stands."

Halep, who has also triumphed at Roland Garros, overcame Serena Williams 6-2 6-2 in the 2019 Wimbledon final.

The grand slam in London did not take place last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

American duo Caty McNally and Caroline Dolehide bounced back from their French Open woe with victories at the Nottingham Open as their grass-court seasons began.

McNally and Dolehide both failed to progress through qualifying at the ongoing grand slam in Paris, but they recovered to make successful starts to their campaign at the WTA 250 event on Monday.

World number 36 McNally – on the day her doubles partner Coco Gauff reached the last eight in the singles at Roland Garros – won 6-4 6-3 against India's Ankita Raina, saving five of the six break points she faced. 

McNally – beaten by Gauff in the French Open junior final in 2018 – will now cheer the 17-year-old on from afar while she herself looks to make further progress in England.

Dolehide conceded just one break point as she won by the same scoreline against Giulia Gatto-Monticone, while home hope Harriet Dart beat compatriot Emma Raducanu in straight sets.

Australian pair Lizette Cabrera and Arina Rodionova both beat Chinese opponents, seeing off Wang Yafan and Wang Xinyu respectively. 

Number one seed Johanna Konta will begin her campaign on Tuesday against Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove.

Serena Williams said she would head to London "pretty soon" to start preparation for Wimbledon after being dumped out of the French Open by Elena Rybakina.

Rybakina, who represents Kazakhstan, had not previously been past the second round at Roland Garros but she was in superb form against 23-time grand slam winner Williams, storming to a 6-3 7-5 win in one hour and 19 minutes to reach the quarter-finals.

Russian-born Rybakina was excellent value for her stunning win on Sunday, converting five of her seven break points and winning almost 60 per cent of points returning Williams' second serve.

Far from being disappointed at her early exit, Williams said she was just pleased to have put together a run of three consecutive wins on clay before Sunday's defeat.

"I got some good matches in here," Williams told a media conference. "I did not have the best clay-court season, but it was good to finally get some wins on clay. I'm in a much better place than when I got here.

"It was definitely close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match. I'm not winning those points. That literally could just change everything."

Asked if it might be her final French Open match, the 39-year-old American said: "I'm definitely not thinking about it at all. I'm definitely thinking just about other things but not about that."

One of those "other things" will be Wimbledon, where she has been a singles champion seven times. Asked when she would travel to London for the tournament that begins on June 28, Williams said: "[I will] possibly go home and regroup and then get ready for London. But I don't know. I have to get there early for quarantine, so, yeah, it has to be pretty soon."

Rybakina, who will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter-finals, had never faced Williams before.

She said: "When I was small, of course I was watching her matches on TV. It's difficult to expect anything because you watch on TV and it's completely different when you come on court and you feel the power and everything. I knew that the serve was going to be difficult for me to return. She's powerful, but I was ready."

PAVLYUCHENKOVA ENDS LONG WAIT FOR LAST-EIGHT SPOT

Pavlyuchenkova reached the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time in 10 years with a 5-7 6-3 6-2 victory over 15th seed Victoria Azarenka.

It is the seventh grand slam quarter-final for Pavlyuchenkova, who is seeded 31st at Roland Garros, and her first outside Australia in five years.

The Russian had lost to Azarenka in five of their last six matches and looked set for more disappointment when the Belarusian powered back from 3-1 down to take the first set.

However, Pavlyuchenkova fought back in style, hitting 24 winners and making just 11 unforced errors over the next two sets to book her last-eight spot in two hours and nine minutes.

"It's tough to remember what I felt like 10 years ago," she said. "I'd say completely different. I'm very happy also now. I think I feel a little different. I feel more mature. It's a good moment, I'm enjoying it, but I've got work to do.

"I hope I show more maturity as well, smarter tennis, more consistent. I feel quite fit as well, considering the fact that I'm not the youngest on tour now.

"I know what I have to do and I know what I want to do; I'm trying to work for that."

Reflecting on her defeat, Azarenka said: "There's always some positives. The most positive thing I will say from this week, not the whole season, is that I've been able to play pain free. That was my goal here. Everything else is something that can be analysed later."

BADOSA AND ZIDANESK REACH QUARTER-FINALS FOR FIRST TIME

Paula Badosa will compete in her first grand slam quarter-final after overcoming 20th seed Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 3-6 6-2.

Badosa, who reached the semi-finals in Charleston and Madrid before picking up her maiden title in Belgrade a fortnight ago, saved six of the nine break points she faced and converted five of the 10 she forced on her opponent's serve.

"I always thought that tennis is 80 per cent mental," the Spanish 33rd seed said. "I think when you're in these rounds, of course the racket is important, how you play, it's very important.

"I think it's a little bit more important how you manage all the nerves in the important moments. I think when you're here, the mental thing, it's a little bit the key."

She will face world number 85 Tamara Zidanesk, who became the first player representing Slovenia to reach the last eight of a grand slam thanks to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win over Sorana Cirstea.

The best previous major performance by a player representing Slovenia had been the three fourth-round runs by Katarina Srebotnik at Roland Garros in 2002 and 2008, and the US Open in 2008.

"I'm getting a lot of messages that everyone is watching," Zidansek said. "It means a lot to me that I'm able to get across to the message to young people and everyone in Slovenia that we can do it.

"We're a small country; we don't have that many players, but we have good players."

Coco Gauff was given only a light workout as she led the American talents advancing at the French Open on Saturday.

Seventeen-year-old Gauff played compatriot Jennifer Brady but secured swift passage to round four as her opponent was forced to retire due to injury.

The teenager had produced a ruthless, relentless 19-minute opening set, winning 6-1 before Brady called a medical timeout.

She quickly made the call to withdraw, allowing Gauff to move on and continue her best run at a tournament she won as a junior in 2018. Ons Jabeur is next.

Gauff will be among four Americans in the last 16 after 2020 finalist Sofia Kenin came from behind to beat another compatriot in Jessica Pegula in three sets. Sloane Stephens overcame 18th seed Karolina Muchova in two.

AMERICAN ACES

There had been eight players from the United States in the third round at Roland Garros, with only Madison Keys – beaten by Victoria Azarenka on Friday – losing to a foreign opponent.

Stephens said: "I think obviously American women tennis is in a really great place. I think we all are having good results and everyone is playing well.

"Obviously, it's different. I think we're all friends. We're all very friendly. We all support each other. We all love seeing each other do well, which I think is really nice.

"It's great to have so many players in the top 100, just because we're just a super strong nation right now.

"I think that's also a very cool, super strong Fed Cup team. Everything that you would think of, we have, so I think that's really cool."

SVITOLINA SUFFERS

Stephens will face Barbora Krejcikova next after she claimed Saturday's biggest scalp, defeating fifth seed Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-2.

Krejcikova identified an epic battle at 4-3 in the opener as the "key game", staving off four break points to hold.

On Svitolina's serve, the Czech converted six of 13 opportunities and, despite breaking in the very first game, felt she improved as the match wore on.

"It was really tough because also I didn't know Elina that well," Krejcikova said. "I never played her, I never practiced [with] her.

"So I didn't really know, I wasn't really sure what kind of ball I should expect. I felt weird.

"But as the match went on and I was playing and playing, I just started to feel better, and actually at the end I was just feeling really well and I was just going for my shots."

SWIATEK SWAGGERS

Kenin has Maria Sakkari in the fourth round following her win over Elise Mertens, but the American could be excused for already having one eye on a potential quarter-final.

She is on course to meet defending champion Iga Swiatek, who beat Kenin in last year's final and is in supreme form again in 2021.

Anna Kontaveit broke Swiatek in the opening game of their clash but could not protect her advantage and was edged in a tie-break.

That set the stage for a devastating display of Swiatek's talent in which she claimed a bagel with only a single unforced error.

Despite the dominant nature of the second set, the Pole said: "It's good to have matches like that because it keeps you down to earth and you have to just be careful on every point and on every game."

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