Anett Kontaveit failed to read the script as she beat Simona Halep to win the Transylvania Open and qualify for the WTA Finals for the first time.

Kontaveit went into Sunday's final knowing victory over top seed Halep would earn her the last place in the season-ending tournament in Guadalajara.

The Estonian duly denied Ons Jabeur a WTA Finals spot, beating Romanian home favourite Halep 6-2 6-3 in Cluj.

Second seed Kontaveit has now come out on top in 10 consecutive matches, having won the Kremlin Cup last weekend, and this was her fourth title of a stellar season.

Halep had not dropped a set in her previous three meetings with Kontaveit, but the former world number one was soundly beaten to miss out on a fourth title on home soil – five years after her last in Bucharest.

The 25-year-old Kontaveit took her run to 26 victories in her last 28 matches, winning 70.6 per cent of points behind her first serve to Halep's 44.1 per cent.

Kontaveit broke three times in a one-sided first set and fought back from 2-0 down in the second to continue her brilliant run.

Halep has not won a title since September 2020, having been unfortunate with injuries this year.

Simona Halep progressed to her first final of 2021 as she thrashed Marta Kostyuk to reach the showpiece at the Transylvania Open.

Halep has now reached a WTA final in 12 consecutive seasons after easing to a 6-0 6-1 victory over her teenage opponent.

The two-time grand slam champion faced Kostyuk at Indian Wells three weeks ago and was forced to come from a break down in the first set before prevailing in straight sets.

No such recovery effort was required in Cluj, with Halep progressing to her third final in Romania having twice won the Bucharest Open.

"I really wanted to play the final here. It's a home tournament and always when I come here, I feel great," Halep said. 

"I'm really happy, motivated and I'm looking forward to playing the final tomorrow.

"I knew that I had to play a little bit faster, more aggressive and to open the court a little bit more. There [at Indian Wells], she didn't miss very much as she did today, but I think I took the ball faster and quicker, and the serve helped me today."

"I'm just trying to give my best, trying to be aggressive and enjoy. When I smile inside, it looks better outside. I have the whole country with me when I play at home, so that's why I'm motivated, that's why I feel safe and strong on the court, and I always want to play my best.

"I won twice in Bucharest and, hopefully, tomorrow's the lucky three, but if not, it's still a good result and it's good to be home." 

Halep is unlikely to have it so easy in the final, which sees her face the in-form Anett Kontaveit, who will have added motivation on Sunday.

Kontaveit needed just over an hour to defeat Rebecca Peterson 6-3 6-2, her 25th win in her last 27 matches.

Victory over Halep would see Kontaveit beat Ons Jabeur to the eighth and final spot at the WTA Finals in Guadalajara. However, Halep has won all three of their previous meetings.

At the Courmayeur Open, Clara Tauson will face Donna Vekic in the final after they overcame Liudmila Samsonova and Jasmine Paolini respectively.

Emma Raducanu's hopes of facing idol Simona Halep in the semi-finals of the Transylvania Open were brutally ended by a crushing defeat to Marta Kostyuk on Friday.

US Open champion Raducanu claimed her first ever regular WTA Tour win in Cluj earlier this week, with the 18-year-old keen to impress in the homeland of her father, but Kostyuk denied her the chance of a dream last-four clash with Halep.

The 19-year-old Ukrainian swept Raducanu aside in just 57 minutes, winning 6-2 6-1 as Kostyuk furthered her own burgeoning reputation in the game by reaching a third semi-final of the year.

Raducanu proved her own worst enemy, her 41 unforced errors more than double Kostyuk's 16, with the latter feeling confident as early as the first game when two double faults helped her break the Briton's serve.

"I don't know how I won the first game, I think that's where everything started," Kostyuk said. "I somehow won that game and I gained this confidence, like I'm not going to lose this match.

"After that, by the fifth game maybe, I figured out how to play her – today. Maybe next time I play it's going to be different tactics."

Top seed Halep enjoyed a similarly straightforward victory as she lost just two games en route to a 6-1 6-1 win over Romanian compatriot Jaqueline Cristian, a particularly impressive feat given she had been suffering with a back injury this week.

That success preserved Halep's 100 per cent record against fellow Romanians.

On the other side of the draw, second seed Anett Kontaveit was also an impressive winner as she disposed of Anhelina Kalinina 6-1 6-3 in just over an hour. Kontaveit has won 24 of her last 26 matches and will be the firm favourite against unseeded Rebecca Peterson, who beat Lesia Tsurenko 6-2 3-6 6-3.

At the Courmayeur Open in Italy, third seed Liudmila Samsonova cruised into the semis thanks to a swift 6-1 6-2 demolition of Anna Kalinskaya. She will meet Clara Tauson – seeded fifth – after the Dane came through a more gruelling 3-6 6-4 6-2 win over Ann Li.

The other semi will be contested by Donna Vekic and Jasmine Paolini, who were straight-sets winners over Wang Xinyu and Dayana Yastremska, respectively.

Emma Raducanu is on course to face her idol Simona Halep for the first time in the Transylvania Open after they both advanced to the quarter-finals on Thursday. 

Raducanu celebrated her first WTA Tour win at the expense of Polona Hercog in Cluj on Tuesday and followed that up with a 6-3 6-4 defeat of Ana Bogdan. 

The 18-year-old US Open champion had a first-serve percentage of 69 and won 87 per cent of those points, breaking three times to move into the last eight. 

Third seed Raducanu said: "It's definitely taking me some time to find my feet still. I'm just taking some learnings from every match that I play. I don't think I'm the finished product yet." 

Next up for the Brit is a meeting with fellow teenager Marta Kostyuk after the sixth seed sent Mona Barthel packing with a 6-4 6-4 victory. 

Halep was troubled by a back injury in a 6-4 6-2 success over Varvara Gracheva in her homeland. 

The two-time grand slam champion played through the pain barrier, breaking twice in each set to progress, and could face Raducanu if she beats fellow Romanian Jaqueline Cristian. 

"The back got blocked and the pain is really big," Halep said in the on-court interview. "You cannot really bend much and you cannot move. 

"But sometimes you are used to the pain, I had this before many times, and I just wanted to continue and finish this match. It's good that I won this match, I don't know how." 

Anett Kontaveit, striving to secure a WTA Finals berth, extended her indoor winning run to 12 matches by seeing off Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3 6-4, while Rebecca Peterson knocked Irina Bara out in straight sets. 

In the Courmayeur Open, Jasmine Paolini came out on top 6-4 7-5 in an all-Italian battle with Lucrezia Stefanini and Zhang Shuai got past Wang Xinyu 7-6 (7-5) 6-4. 

The unseeded Donna Vekic also secured a place in the quarter-finals. 

Simona Halep eased to victory over compatriot Elena-Gabriela Ruse on home soil in Romania to advance through to the last 16 of the Transylvania Open.

Ruse won her first WTA title at the Hamburg European Open in July and reached the final of the Palermo Ladies Open later that month, but she was second best against Halep.

The top seed produced a commanding performance as she held serve throughout and broke her opponent twice in both sets to progress 6-1 6-2 in a time of 73 minutes.

Halep, who departed at the quarter-final stage of the Kremlin Cup last week, is on course to meet US Open winner Emma Raducanu in the semi-finals in Cluj.

Anett Kontaveit also prevailed on Wednesday with a straight-sets win of her own, the second seed seeing off Aleksandra Krunic 6-3 7-5.

The 25-year-old, seeking her third WTA 500 indoor trophy in the space of two months, made the most of some Krunic errors to set up a last-16 tie with Alison Van Uytvanck.

Anhelina Kalinina earlier beat Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-2 6-2 to become the first player to book their place in the quarter-finals.

At the Courmayeur Open in Italy, top seed Dayana Yastremska required three sets to overcome Kateryna Kozlova 6-1 3-6 7-5.

Clara Tauson and Ann Li also avoided upsets as they beat Giulia Gatto-Monticone and Kamilla Rakhimova respectively.

Emma Raducanu collected her first WTA Tour victory as she defeated Polona Hercog at the Transylvania Open in Romania.

Raducanu, who was the surprise US Open champion in September after not dropping a set throughout the tournament, appeared at just her fourth tour-level tournament and came to Cluj as third favourite.

The 18-year-old had lost opening-round matches at previous events in Nottingham, San Diego and Indian Wells.

However, world number 23 Raducanu finally recorded her first victory as she overcame a first-set scare to triumph over Hercog 4-6 7-5 6-1.

In the opening match of Tuesday's fixtures, sixth seed Marta Kostyuk cruised past Bernard Pera 6-3 6-4 to secure her last-16 berth.

Irina-Camelia Begu, ranked one behind Kostyuk for the tournament, did not enjoy similar fortunes as Romanian compatriot Irina Bara triumphed 7-6 (7-2) 0-6 6-4.

Jaqueline Cristian survived a marathon slog against Kaja Juvan as she came from a set down to win 3-6 7-6 (10-8) 7-6 (7-3) and book a second-round meeting with Ajla Tomljanovic.

Number one seed Simona Halep – who departed at the quarter-final stage of the Kremlin Cup last week – plays her first game on home turf on Wednesday against Elena-Gabriele Rusa and could meet Raducanu in the semi-final stages.

Meanwhile, Liudmila Samsonova, the third favourite at the Courmayeur Open, cruised past Stephanie Wagner 6-3 6-0 while seventh seed Jasmine Paolini comfortably dispatched Martina Di Giuseppe 6-4 6-1.

Shuai Zhang, who is the third seed in Italy, also enjoyed a routine victory as she eased past Jessica Pieri 6-1 6-3 after fourth favourite Petra Martic crashed out 3-6 4-6 to Saisai Zheng.

Maria Sakkari admitted she got twitchy before finishing off Simona Halep to reach the Kremlin Cup semi-finals.

The Greek star is chasing what would be just her second career title at WTA level, but the limited silverware belies her growing reputation: Sakkari has shot up to a career-high seventh in the world rankings during her best season on tour.

Looking to finish with a flourish, both in Moscow and next month at the season-ending WTA Finals, Sakkari scored a 6-4 6-4 victory over former world number one Halep on Friday.

The victory sets up a last-four clash with Ekaterina Alexandrova, after the Russian impressed a home crowd by landing a 6-3 6-4 win against top seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Yet Sakkari was almost reeled in by Halep from the point of victory in the second set, being unable to finish off the match on her own serve after building a 5-1 lead. Halep twice broke back, before dropping her own serve.

"It was a very tough match today," Sakkari said in an on-court interview. "It was the first time I'd played Simona, but I knew what to expect: she makes a lot of balls, more than any other player. I had a tough moment in the second set when I was 5-1 up, but finally, I found a way. I got a little nervous, a little bit tired.

"The last couple of months have been tough, I've been travelling a lot so haven't recovered enough. I just tried harder in the last game and just went for it."

Alexandrova's shock win over Sabalenka gave her a sixth career victory over a top-10 player. Second seed Garbine Muguruza followed Sabalenka out of the tournament, walloped 6-1 6-1 by in-form Estonian Anett Kontaveit, who has won 19 of her last 21 matches on tour, including beating Sakkari in the Ostrava final last month.

Kontaveit's semi-final opponent at the WTA 500 event will be Marketa Vondrousova, who claimed a 6-4 6-2 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

At the Tenerife Open, Italian Camila Giorgi is the only seeded survivor in the semi-finals. The Italian fourth seed saw off Arantxa Rus 6-1 6-1, with Frenchwoman Alize Cornet and American Ann Li also among Friday's winners at the WTA 250 tournament.

Maria Sakkari secured her place at this year's WTA Finals by progressing to the last eight of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

The third seed was on court for just 34 minutes on Thursday as last-16 opponent Anna Kalinskaya was forced to retire through injury at 6-2 1-0 down.

Sakkari has enjoyed a successful year on the WTA circuit, reaching grand slam semi-finals for the first time in her career at the French Open and US Open.

Through to the quarter-finals in the Russian capital, where she will play Simona Halep, the 26-year-old becomes the first Greek woman to qualify for the year-end WTA Finals in Mexico.

Eighth seed Halep beat Veronika Kudermetova 6-1 7-6 (7-4), while world number 35 Marketa Vondrousova also prevailed in straight sets against Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko.

Elsewhere, Ostrava Open champion Anett Kontaveit is through to her eighth quarter-final of 2021 after defeating Andrea Petkovic 6-1 6-4.

Meanwhile, at the Tenerife Open, fourth seed Camila Giorgi enjoyed a commanding 6-1 6-2 victory over Montenegro's Danka Kovinic.

However, there was no joy for seventh seed Clara Tauson as the Danish teenager went down 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-4 against China's Saisai Zheng.

Simona Halep reached the second round of the Kremlin Cup on Tuesday with a straight-sets win over home hope Anastasia Potapova.

The former world number one, competing at the Moscow event for the first time since 2013, won 6-1 6-4 to set up a meeting with Veronika Kudermetova, who survived a marathon contest with qualifier Oksana Selekhmeteva.

Anett Kontaveit, who won the title in Ostrava last month, prevailed 6-3 6-3 against Katerina Siniakova. Another seed, Wimbledon quarter-finalist Ons Jabeur, retired against Ekaterina Alexandrova when trailing 6-1 1-0.

Andrea Petkovic also progressed when Jelena Ostapenko had to halt proceedings in their third set, while seventh seed Elena Rybakina lost in straight sets to Olympic silver medallist Marketa Vondrousova.

At the Tenerife Open, Camila Giorgi progressed past Aliona Bolsova 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 6-4 despite giving up two penalty games due to repeated indiscretions when line calls were called into question.

Fifth seed Viktorija Golubic lost in straight sets to Arantxa Rus, while Alison Riske was dispatched 6-1 6-4 by Donna Vekic.

Seventh seed Clara Tauson defeated Heather Watson via a final-set tie-break, while Varvara Gracheva won in the same vein against third seed Sara Sorribes Tormo in a match lasting nearly three and a half hours.

Top seed Elina Svitolina was one set up against Maria Camila Osorio Serrano when their match was suspended for the night.

Elina Svitolina required a third-set tie-break to progress at the Indian Wells Open, while former world number one Victoria Azarenka handled an old rival in straight sets and Simona Halep fell victim to an upset. 

Svitolina – the fourth seed – dropped the first set to 32nd seed Sorana Cirstea before fighting back to reach the round of 16 at the WTA Premier 1000 event on Sunday.

Two-time grand-slam champion Azarenka joined Svitolina in the next round after knocking out seventh seed Petra Kvitova, but 11th seed Halep became Aliaksandra Sasnovich's latest conquest. 

 

SVITOLINA SURVIVES CIRSTEA SCARE

Svitolina needed two hours, 32 minutes to outlast Cirstea 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) and remain unbeaten in three career matches against the Romanian. 

The Ukrainian was on the defensive throughout the opening set, facing 11 break points on her serve and managing to save eight of them before Cirstea finally won out. 

Svitolina tightened things up from there, saving four of five break points the rest of the match. 

"It was a very tough match today, and I was fighting and trying to find my game," said Svitolina, who will face Jessica Pegula next. "It was a bit of a rollercoaster.

"I wish I could play a little bit better in the first set, I had chances to grab that set, but unfortunately it didn't play the way I wanted. I had to fight for every point, and Sorana played a great match, I think. I'm happy that I could win today."

 

AZARENKA TAKES DOWN KVITOVA

Azarenka won her first two Tour-level matches against Kvitova in 2008 and 2009 but had prevailed only once in six meetings since then before Sunday's 7-5 6-4 triumph. 

The two-time Indian Wells champion converted break-point chances when she needed them, six of 11 in all, and had 18 unforced errors to Kvitova's 26. 

"It was important to just stay there, really take my opportunities, not to let her," Azarenka said after taking down two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova. "If she gets in the groove in couple points, not to kind of let her extend that streak, if you want to call it that.

"I was trying to still create opportunities for myself, be more aggressive, and honestly just believing also that what I'm doing is right and see how I can execute that. So intention was good. Execution followed after."

 

ANOTHER UPSET FOR SASNOVICH

After knocking off US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round, Sasnovich ushered out another grand slam winner in Halep 7-5 6-4 and will next face Azarenka.

The world number 100 had 22 winners to 16 for Halep and won 61.8 per cent of points on her serve as she reached the round of 16 at Indian Wells for the first time. 

In other matches Sunday, ninth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fell to 23rd seed and US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez 5-7 6-3 6-4, while second seed Iga Swiatek dropped only one game in a 6-1 6-0 demolition of Veronika Kudermetova. 

Jelena Ostapenko and Shelby Rogers also advanced. 

US Open champion Emma Raducanu was sensationally beaten in her first match following her Flushing Meadows triumph, going down in straight sets to Aliaksandra Sasnovich at the Indian Wells Open on Friday.

The Belarussian, who is currently ranked 100th, stunned the 19-year-old Briton 6-2 6-4 in one hour and 25 minutes.

Raducanu had been on a 10-match winning streak coming into her maiden Indian Wells campaign.

"I'm still so new to everything. The experiences that I'm going through right now, even though I might not feel 100 per cent amazing right now, I know they're for the greater good," Raducanu said after the defeat.

"I mean, I'm 18 years old. I need to cut myself some slack."

Raducanu, who did not drop a set during her US Open run, appeared in control early after winning the opening six points, but Sasnovich claimed the first break in the third game.

Unforced errors proved costly for Raducanu as the clean-striking Sasnovich capitalized to win the first set, before opening the second set with another break.

Raducanu responded with an immediate break back and led 4-2 in the second set, before the Belarussian hit back by winning the next four games to topple the British teenager.

"It was a really good match for me. I play really well," Sasnovich said. "I know she just won US Open. I lost there in the first round. But I tried to go on court, I tried to enjoy. I did everything right."

 

FORMER WINNER HALEP PROGRESSES

Sasnovich will face two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep in the third round after the Romanian defeated Marta Kostyuk 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 in one hour and 33 minutes.

The 11th seed, who split with long-time coach Darren Cahill last month amid an injury-disrupted year, was down a break early before working her way back and dominating the tiebreak.

Halep broke twice in a more controlled second set to claim victory in her 10th appearance at Indian Wells.

"I missed a lot playing tennis at this level this year because I've been injured and many months, I couldn't play matches," said Halep, who won at Indian Wells in 2015. "I came here a little more aggressive than normal and I'm trying to improve my game and myself."

 

KVITOVA CRUISES AS TOP SEEDS WIN

Two-time major winner Petra Kvitova eased into the last 32 with a 6-2 6-2 triumph over Arantxa Rus from the Netherlands.

Seventh seed Kvitova set up a showdown with two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka after she beat Magda Linette 7-5 3-0 in a walkover. Kvitova leads Azarenka 5-3 in head-to-head battles.

Second seed Iga Swiatek dominated Croatian Petra Martic 6-1 6-3 to seal her passage into the third round, while fourth seed Elina Svitolina got past Teresa Martincova 6-2 7-5.

Beaten 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez triumphed over experienced Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-2 6-3 and will play ninth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round after she easily accounted for Madison Keys 6-3 6-1.

Simona Halep has confirmed she has parted company with her long-time coach Darren Cahill.

Halep, who was the year-end number one in 2017 and 2018, has been coached by Cahill for the past six years.

She won the 2018 French Open, her first grand slam title, under his guidance before Cahill left the team for a spell to spend more time with his family.

Cahill – who also guided Halep to the 2018 Australian Open final – returned to coach the Romanian ahead of the 2019 WTA Finals, following on from her success at Wimbledon.

The 29-year-old has endured an injury-hit 2021 and was knocked out of the US Open in the fourth round by Elina Svitolina.

In a post on her official Twitter account, Halep announced: "After six wonderful years working together, Darren Cahill and I have decided that it's time to end our working relationship.

"Thank you D for everything, for making me a better tennis player and a better person."

Naomi Osaka was due to face Olga Danilovic on Wednesday, but the defending US Open champion was handed a walkover into the third round. 

Osaka, who defeated Marie Bouzkova in the first round to start her title defence at Flushing Meadows, is hunting her fifth grand slam title and third in New York. 

Serbian youngster Danilovic, who is being mentored by ATP world number one Novak Djokovic, defeated American Alycia Parks in straight sets on Monday but had to pull out of her second-round tie with Osaka due to a viral illness. 

However, the 20-year-old stressed she had not tested positive for COVID-19. 

"Hi everyone… I am so sad to have to withdrawal [sic] from my match this morning. I have been feeling unwell these past few days dealing with a non-COVID related viral illness," Danilovic wrote in an Instagram post. 

"I was really looking forward to playing against Naomi on Arthur Ashe Stadium today, but [it was] not to be this time. 

"I just want to say [a] big thank you to medical staff here [at the] US Open and [to] everyone for your support and I cannot wait to be back in New York at this amazing tournament next year." 

Osaka will face Leylah Fernandez in the third round on Friday after the Canadian beat Kaia Kanepi 7-5 7-5. 

Another of the big names, Simona Halep, also progressed, with the two-time grand slam winner seeing off Kristina Kucova 6-3 6-1. 

Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Andy Murray and Ash Barty will take on 2010 finalist Vera Zvonareva in the first round of the US Open.

French Open runner-up Tsitsipas and 2012 champion Murray is one of the standout matches in the opening round at Flushing Meadows.

Top seed Novak Djokovic will start his quest for a calendar Grand Slam against a qualifier in New York and could face a repeat of the Wimbledon final versus Matteo Berrettini in the last eight.

World number one Djokovic, a strong favourite for a record 21st major title with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer absent due to injury, could do battle with Alexander Zverev at the semi-final stage.

Daniil Medvedev, the second seed, is in the bottom half with Tsitsipas, who he could come up against in the semi-final. Medvedev's first test will come against Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Barty could come up against Iga Swiatek in the last eight and Karolina Pliskova if she makes it through to the semi-finals.

Simona Halep's encounter with Camila Giorgi is a mouthwatering first-round match, while defending champion Naomi Osaka returns to grand slam action against former US Open junior champion Marie Bouzkova.

Angelique Kerber could be a tough fourth round opponent for Osaka. Close friends Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens meet in another eye-catching first-round match.

There will be no Serena or Venus Williams at the final major of the year due to injuries.

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