Belinda Bencic clinched a debut appearance at the end-of-season WTA Finals, meaning Serena Williams will miss out.

Swiss star Bencic reached as high as seventh in the world rankings during the 2016 season before slumping outside the top 300, with poor form compounded by injury trouble.

But 22-year-old Bencic has returned to the top 10 since reaching the semi-finals of the US Open in September, beating defending champion Naomi Osaka along the way in New York.

A 6-3 6-4 victory over France's Kristina Mladenovic in the semi-finals of the Kremlin Cup on Saturday made sure of Bencic's appearance in the eight-player WTA Finals.

That lucrative event is the last major tournament of the WTA season and takes place in Shenzhen, China, from October 27 to November 3.

Bencic becomes the last player to secure a place, joining Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Elina Svitolina, Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova and Bianca Andreescu.

She nudged ahead of Williams in the Race to Shenzhen to deny the American a place in the elite field for the upcoming tournament that carries prize money of $14million.

Williams has been inactive since the US Open and is unlikely to be perturbed by missing the WTA Finals.

Bencic said in an on-court interview: "I'm so happy I reached the top eight. It was a huge goal for me this season and so last-minute.

"I was so nervous before the match, but also reaching the final here [in Moscow] tomorrow is amazing. I'm so happy."

Kiki Bertens look set to miss out on the WTA Finals following a Kremlin Cup quarter-final defeat to Kristina Mladenovic, which left the door open for Belinda Bencic to make her Shenzhen debut.

Bertens missed out on a place in the last four in Moscow when she was beaten 6-4 2-6 6-1 by the unseeded Mladenovic.

The second seed will require a withdrawal to feature in the season-ending tournament in China after failing to climb above the eighth-placed Serena Williams in the standings.

Mladenovic mixed up her game with skill and intelligence and faces a semi-final showdown with Bencic next.

Bencic will move ahead of both Bertens and Williams to grab a Shenzhen spot if she records one more win following a 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 result against qualifier Kirsten Flipkens on Friday.

The Swiss third seed, who has never played in the WTA Finals, drew on her fighting spirit to come from 4-1 down in the opening set and edged a tie-break after saving two set points, then dominated the second set.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Karolina Muchova will contest the other semi-final after getting the better of Veronika Kudermetova and Ekaterina Alexandrova respectively.

Meanwhile, defending champion Julia Goerges rallied from a set down to beat Monica Puig 1-6 6-2 6-3 and reach the last four of the Luxembourg Open.

The German will take on Elena Rybakina, a 6-0 6-4 winner against Laura Siegemund, while Jelena Ostapenko and Anna Blinkova will also do battle for a place in the final.

 

 

Veronika Kudermetova upset top seed Elina Svitolina in the second round of the Kremlin Cup and Jelena Ostapenko fought back to knock Elise Mertens out of the Luxembourg Open on Thursday.

Kudermetova came out on top in her first match against a top-five opponent, defeating Svitolina 6-1 2-6 7-5 in Moscow.

The 22-year-old Russian wrapped up the opening set in only 28 minutes and came from 2-0 down in the decider to move into the quarter-finals.

Kudermetova's attacking approach paid off, world number four Svitolina showing resolve in the final set but missing out on a last-eight showdown with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Second seed Kiki Bertens advanced with 4-6 6-3 7-5 victory over Kaia Kanepi, while Pavlyuchenkova won an all-Russian contest with Varvara Gracheva 5-7 6-4 6-2.

Kristina Mladenovic will face Bertens after battling her way past sixth seed Anastasija Sevastova 7-5 3-6 6-3.

The top seed also bowed out Luxembourg, with Ostapenko digging deep to see off Mertens 4-6 6-2 6-2.

Ostapenko, runner-up to Coco Gauff at the Linz Open last weekend, will now come up against Antonia Lottner, who went through when Andrea Petkovic retired with a knee injury after losing the first set 6-1.

Defending champion Julie Goerges saw off Sorana Cirstea 4-6 6-4 6-4, while Anna Blinkova and Monica Puig also made it through, defeating Kristyna Pliskova 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (8-6). 

Coco Gauff's first WTA Tour title at the Linz Open means the 15-year-old has the prize money to buy a Halloween costume she hopes will be the best in the sport.

The outstanding teenager, who starred at Wimbledon and the US Open, became the youngest champion on the main tour in 15 years as she defeated Jelena Ostapenko on Sunday.

The victory capped a sensational week for Gauff, who also claimed a landmark first win against a top-10 player when she downed world number eight Kiki Bertens in the quarter-finals.

Despite a fast-moving week, which started with the American entering the tournament as a lucky loser, Gauff has already made plans for her reported winnings of $43,000.

"I know Halloween is coming up and it's one of my favourite times of year," she said. "So I guess I'll splurge a little bit on my costume and make sure it's right.

"[The costume is] a secret, because I know last year they had a WTA contest for the best costumes, and I came in third. This year my goal is to come in first!"

Gauff drew huge crowds as she made grand slam breakthroughs at the All England Club and then at Flushing Meadows, yet she revealed she had not expected to be in contention for titles at the start of the season.

"I'm still overwhelmed and shocked," she said. "I guess it's crazy to say it's my first WTA title.

"This was definitely not on the calendar at the beginning of the year, because I didn't think I'd have a chance to get in. And now I'm the champion, so it's crazy."

Gauff is the first player this season to win on the tour as a lucky loser and added: "It's just literally insane that I got in as a lucky loser and now I'm the champion.

"My dad told me when I got in, before the first main-draw match, he said, 'You can't lose twice in the same tournament!'

"I'm sure he never thought it would come this far, to being the champion, but I guess he was right."

Rebecca Peterson won her second title of the 2019 Asian swing as she denied a resurgent Heather Watson at the Tianjin Open.

Having won the Jiangxi Open in Nanchang, Peterson overcame Watson 6-4 6-4 in a rain-delayed final.

The match was postponed by over five hours, with adverse weather during the warm-up then forcing a switch to an indoor court.

But the weather did not dampen Peterson's clinical performance, though Watson - who had knocked out second seed Wang Qiang and Bronx Open champion Magda Linette en route to the final - did take an early advantage.

Watson broke Peterson's first service game, but the Swede immediately rallied to break back at the fourth time of asking in the next game.

Another break followed to give Peterson a 5-4 lead, with the 24-year-old saving a break point to wrap up the set.

Watson started the second set on the front foot, only to concede two successive breaks - Peterson holding her serves as she cruised clear to claim the prize with her first match point.

Peterson's triumph will take her into the WTA's top 40, while Watson will move back into the top 100.

Coco Gauff claimed the first WTA Tour title of her career with a thrilling 6-3 1-6 6-2 victory over Jelena Ostapenko in the final of the Linz Open.

The 15-year-old American sensation was the youngest WTA finalist since Nicole Vaidisova won the Tashkent Open in 2004 and showed plenty of the form that saw her spring to grand slam prominence this year to take the first set.

Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, rallied impressively both to level matters and delay a victory that marks the latest staging post in Gauff's rapid rise.

Gauff, who stunned world number eight Kiki Bertens in the quarter-finals, was forced to save a pair of break points in the first game but immediately got stuck in to the Ostapenko serve, opening up a 3-0 lead.

Playing her first final of 2019, Ostapenko settled well enough thereafter but Gauff looked imperious, shrugging off a double fault at the start of the ninth game to take the set.

Ostapenko finally got a look at her opponent's serve in set two as they exchanged breaks early on, before the weight of what she seemed set to accomplish appeared to hinder Gauff.

It meant the second went 6-1 to the world number 72 but the pedigree Gauff displayed en route to round four at Wimbledon and round three in the US Open came emphatically to the fore in the decider.

After dropping serve for 2-0, Ostapenko got involved in an animated exchange with the umpire, repeatedly asking the official, "Can you see the ball?"

At the next change of ends, newly appointed coach Marion Bartoli sought to settle her charge but Gauff was on a roll, and Ostapenko was forced to gamely repel a pair of match points at 5-0.

Those near misses knocked the teenager, who plopped a forehand into the net to be broken to love in the next game.

She regrouped superbly, however, as both players tore into each other with all-or-nothing groundstrokes. One of those from Ostapenko was shown to be long on a challenge and Gauff let out a scream of delight, embracing a landmark triumph.

Coco Gauff says her run to a first WTA Tour final at the age of 15 shows she is ready to play at a top level.

Gauff needed a lucky loser spot to take her place in the main draw of the Linz Open after failing to qualify but could claim the title on Sunday following a 6-4 6-4 defeat of Andrea Petkovic.

The American, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon and third round at the US Open this year, will face Jelena Ostapenko after the 2017 French Open champion booked her place in the final by beating Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Gauff saved nine of the 10 break points she faced in a superb defensive display, with the teenager thrilled by her continued rise.

"This is actually the first time in my life, including juniors, that I got into something as a lucky loser, and now I'm in the final," said Gauff. "I guess every little thing counts. You never know what it could lead to.

"Last year, around this time, I was playing a juniors Grade 1 [tournament], and I lost in the quarter-finals there, in Mexico. It's crazy how much a year can make a difference in improvement.

"I thought this was one of the highest-level matches I played, even though it was straight sets. No game was really easy to win, I felt, for either player.

"Andrea was playing an amazing match, and she was hitting a lot of winners and put a lot of pressure on me to put the ball deep. I guess I was fighting for every point, because you never know what happens.

"Maybe after these [earlier] matches, they boosted my confidence a lot. It kind of showed I can play at this top level, and hang with these top players."

Gauff, who enjoyed her first career top-10 win against Kiki Bertens in the quarter-finals in Austria, will move into the top 100 of the WTA rankings when they are updated on Monday.

Teenage sensation Coco Gauff will face Jelena Ostapenko in her first WTA Tour singles final after beating Andrea Petkovic in straight sets at the Linz Open. 

Gauff needed a lucky loser spot to take her place in the main draw after failing to qualify but could claim the title on Sunday following a 6-4 6-4 defeat of Petkovic. 

The 15-year-old American saved nine of 10 break points she faced and rallied from 2-0 down to win the first set before claiming the only break of the second to oust German Petkovic on Saturday. 

Gauff showed great defence and mixed up her game impressively, making Petkovic pay for a double fault which gave the teenager a 3-2 advantage in the second set. 

The Florida native, set to move into the top 100 in the rankings on Monday, won 71 per cent of points on her second serve and broke new ground when she put away a textbook volley. 

Ostapenko saved three match points in a battling 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 defeat of Ekaterina Alexandrova. 

The 2017 French Open champion showed her fighting spirit to reach a first singles final of the year after fending off a match point in the second set and another two in the decider. 

Rebecca Peterson reached her second WTA Tour final in the space of a month by booking a Tianjin Open clash against Heather Watson, who made her first showpiece since 2016.

Sweden's Peterson, a recent winner in Nanchang, recovered from a dreadful first set to defeat Ons Jabeur 0-6 6-4 7-5 in the first semi-final on Saturday.

She will meet Watson in the final of the WTA International event after the Briton won in straight sets against Veronika Kudermetova, triumphing 6-1 6-4 in 74 minutes.

Peterson suffered a bagel in the opener of her match, though the set was closer than the scoreline suggested as the first five games went to deuce.

In the second, Peterson missed a chance to serve it out at 5-3 but then broke Jabeur in the next game to level the contest.

She fell 3-1 behind in the decider before winning six of the last eight games to progress from a hard-fought encounter in two hours and six minutes.

"It was a really tough match," said Peterson. "[Jabeur] played well, I couldn't find my rhythm and I had to fight for every point so I'm happy that I got the win in the end."

Watson made her first WTA final in three-and-a-half years, winning the first set with ease as Kudermetova – ranked 80 places above her – did not earn a single a break point.

One break was enough to settle a closer second set, with world number 125 Watson converting her third match point.

She has won all of her previous three finals on the main tour, while Peterson's Jiangxi Open success in September was her only prior such contest.

Heather Watson continued her surprise run at the Tianjin Open by beating Magda Linette to reach the semi-finals after saving four match points on Friday.

The Brit had not won a hard-court match on the WTA Tour for over a year before this week, but is two wins away from being crowned champion after a 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (8-6) victory over the eighth seed.

World number 125 Watson was taken the distance after seeing a match point come and go in the second set and forced a tie-break after Linette had four chances to wrap up the quarter-final.

The unseeded Watson eventually prevailed by securing a ninth mini-break in the final set and will face Veronika Kudermetova in the last four.

Russian Kudermetova toppled third seed Dayana Yastremska 6-4 6-0 in a battle of heavy hitters.

There will be no seeds in the semi-finals after Ons Jabeur defeated Yulia Putintseva 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4). 

Jabeur will come up against Rebecca Peterson with a place in the final at stake following the Swede's 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-2 success against home hope Wang Yafan.

Kiki Bertens overcame an early stumble to power through to the quarter-finals of the Linz Open on Thursday.

Top seed Bertens looked to be in trouble in the last 16 in Austria when she lost the first set to Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck, who won the Tashkent Open a fortnight ago.

But Dutch world number eight Bertens, who had been broken in the opening game of the match, did not drop serve again and forced a 4-6 6-3 6-3 victory.

Lucky loser Coco Gauff, playing a WTA Tour quarter-final for the first time, will be her opponent on Friday, having also reached the doubles semi-finals alongside fellow American Caty McNally on Thursday.

Fifteen-year-old Gauff secured her singles last-eight place on Wednesday when defeating Kateryna Kozlova.

Fourth seed Donna Vekic could not join Bertens in the next round, as the Croatian claimed the opening set but went down 3-6 6-1 6-2 to French opponent Kristina Mladenovic.

This was the pair's third meeting in 2019 and, having lost the first two, Mladenovic finally took flight.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was another on the wrong end of an upset as the ninth-seeded Russian similarly let an early lead slip, beaten 2-6 6-2 6-4 by Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova.

Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova showed greater spirit after being pegged back, seeing off German Laura Siegemund in three, while French player Alize Cornet retired as she trailed Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the second set.

Teenager Coco Gauff has been promoted to the Luxembourg Open main draw after Angelique Kerber and Maria Sharapova pulled out with injuries.

Kerber is suffering with a leg injury while Sharapova has a shoulder problem, depriving next week's WTA event of two of its biggest names.

But the news means Gauff enters the competition proper, without needing to qualify, along with regular doubles partner Caty McNally.

Gauff, just 15, burst onto the scene at Wimbledon as she reached the fourth round, before impressing again at the US Open, her home grand slam, by winning two matches.

In her first appearance since Flushing Meadows, playing as a lucky loser, Gauff has reached the quarter-finals of Linz Open and will break into the world's top 100 next week.

She plays top seed Kiki Bertens on Friday for a place in the last four.

Heather Watson reached a WTA Tour quarter-final for the first time in over a year as she defeated Tianjin Open favourite Wang Qiang to set up a clash with Magda Linette.

The Briton - ranked 125th in the world - cruised to a 6-3 6-0 triumph over Wang to claim her first win against a top-30 opponent since she defeated Anastasija Sevastova at Wimbledon in 2017.

Korea Open finalist Linette, who last month beat Watson in qualifying for the China Open, awaits in the 27-year-old's first last-eight outing at this level since Quebec in September 2018, with the Pole having progressed when Kurumi Nara retired at 4-0 down.

Peng Shuai, meanwhile, proved little match for third seed Dayana Yastremska, who eased through 6-2 6-4.

Yastremska, now the highest-seeded player left in the competition, will face Veronika Kudermetova in the last eight, with Zheng Saisai retiring against the Russian.

Coco Gauff reached her first WTA Tour quarter-final when Kateryna Kozlova retired in the final set of their Linz Open contest on Wednesday and could face top seed Kiki Bertens in the last eight.

Gauff, a lucky loser following Maria Sakkari's withdrawal, was leading 4-6 6-4 2-0 when her Ukrainian opponent was unable to continue due to a leg injury.

The 15-year-old American won four of the next five games from a break down at 3-2 in the second set with great fighting spirit and is set to move into the top 100 after her passage in the quarter-finals was secured.

Gauff is the youngest player to move into the last eight of a WTA event since Sesil Karatancheva back in 2005.

The teenage prodigy said: "It's been a goal of mine. In January of this year, I sent a message to my friend saying I wanted to finish Top 100, and at the time I was ranked, like, 800, so it was a far-fetched goal, but I'm glad that I was able to accomplish it.

"My other goal was to get in the main draw of two grand slams, and that happened, so I'm glad that I accomplished everything that I wanted this year."

Bertens, in contention to feature in the WTA Finals, saw off Misaki Doi 6-4 7-5 to set up a second-round meeting with Alison Van Uytvanck.

The world number eight broke twice in each set to stay in the hunt for a third title of the year as she bids to secure a place in the season-ending tournament in Shenzhen.

Andrea Petkovic won an all-German second-round match against fifth seed Julia Goerges 7-6 (7-2) 6-0, while Elena Rybakina denied Anna-Lena Friedsam a place in the quarter-finals.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Jelena Ostapenko and Ekaterina Alexandrova were first-round winners on day three.

Caroline Garcia's Tianjin Open title defence came to a grinding halt against Wang Yafan on Wednesday.

The Frenchwoman suffered a 6-4 6-2 loss to exit at the last-16 stage, leaving Chinese player Wang to face Sweden's Rebecca Peterson in the quarter-finals.

Peterson was leading 7-5 3-2 against Wang Xinyu when her Chinese opponent retired hurt.

Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, the sixth seed, sealed a dominant 6-1 6-2 triumph over 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur.

Up next for the world number 36 is a meeting with Ons Jabeur, who downed Wang Xiyu 6-4 6-2.

Page 1 of 5
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.