Simona Halep's former coach Darren Cahill has jumped to the Romanian's defence after the former Wimbledon and French Open champion failed a drug test.

Cahill said Halep's "integrity is faultless" and insisted there was "no chance" she would have deliberately or wittingly taken a banned substance.

It was made public on Friday that 31-year-old Halep tested positive for roxadustat while competing at the US Open in August.

Halep, who has been provisionally suspended, said she felt "confused and betrayed" by the news. She has not explained why, or by whom, she senses a betrayal.

She now risks a ban from tennis and faces a battle to clear her name, which she has said she is determined to achieve.

Cahill was Halep's coach when she landed her first grand slam title at Roland Garros in 2018, and he pointed to his experience of an athlete who was meticulous about checking anything she ingested.

He wrote in a statement posted on Instagram: "Firstly, and most importantly, there is NO chance Simona knowingly or purposely took any substance on the banned list. None. Zero.

"She is an athlete that stressed about anything prescribed to her by a medical professional [which was rarely], or about any supplement that she used or considered. Simona wore out the words 'please double check this, triple check this to make sure it’s legal, safe and permitted. If you are not sure, I'm not taking it.'"

Australian Cahill has also worked with players including Lleyton Hewitt, Ana Ivanovic, Andy Murray and Andre Agassi. He rates Halep as a player and person of the highest order.

When they stopped working together in September 2021, Halep thanked Cahill "for making me a better tennis player and a better person".

Cahill wrote on Sunday: "Simona's integrity is faultless, she respects her peers, she loves the game and she always has her feet firmly planted on the ground as a humble, approachable champion.

"Honesty has always been her greatest strength and her biggest weakness. We would often laugh about the fact that she can't act and can't tell a little white lie.

"She wears her mood on her shoulder for the world to see, for good and for bad. That is Simo. What you see is what you get. She built an amazing career and legacy by doing things the hard way. The right way.

"Due process will now follow to reveal answers to many questions. As Simona said, the hardest match of her life starts now. I believe in her. I always have and can honestly say never more than right now on this particular issue. I stand with Simo."

World number five Jessica Pegula clinched a berth in her second WTA final of the year with a straight-sets victory over Victoria Azarenka at the Guadalajara Open on a rainy Saturday.

Pegula defeated the former world number one Belarussian 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 in one hour and 29 minutes, having fought back from a 4-1 first-set deficit.

The American will need to wait until Sunday to learn her opponent, with rain forcing Maria Sakkari and Marie Bouzkova's semi-final to be suspended and eventually postponed with the Greek leading 7-5.

Pegula's triumph was her 40th win of the season, becoming the 10th American woman to achieve that feat.

The victory also made it four successive Grand Slam winners that Pegula has overcome to reach the final in Guadalajara, knocking off Sloane Stephens, Bianca Andreescu and Elena Rybakina along with Azarenka.

Pegula converted three of eight break points, while Azarenka took her only break point of the match to help her open up the 4-1 first-set lead.

The American proved better on her second serve, while she managed to win 15 of 26 points on Azarenka's second serve.

Sakkari and Bouzkova's semi-final will resume at 1pm local time on Sunday, with the fourth seed leading 7-5 after an epic first set that lasted 84 minutes.

The Greek showed off her grit after fluffing an early 3-1 lead by taking her eighth set point, winning a 22-shot rally - the longest of the first set - to break Bouzkova in the 12th game.

The final is due to commence no earlier than 6pm local time on Sunday, meaning it will be a physical test for the victor.

Maria Sakkari secured the eighth and final place at the WTA Finals after defeating Veronika Kudermetova 6-1 5-7 6-4 to reach the semi-finals at the Guadalajara Open on Friday.

The WTA Finals – which is contested by the women who finish top-eight for the season in ranking points – already had seven entrants locked in, with the eighth to be decided by the winner between world number six Sakkari and world number 12 Kudermetova.

Sakkari's ability to fight her way out of tough situations proved to be the difference as she saved 14 of the 15 break points she faced, while converting three of her nine chances. In the deciding third set, Sakkari made the most of her only break point, while saving all five of Kudermetova's chances to get back into the contest.

She will play Marie Bouzkova in the semi-final after the unseeded Czech was the beneficiary of Anna Kalinskaya's injury retirement in the first set, with Bouzkova leading 5-2.

It continues a terrific run of form for the 24-year-old Bouzkova, who is 19-3 in her past 22 matches, with her only losses in that span coming against world number 20 Karolina Pliskova, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and world number two Ons Jabeur.

On the other side of the draw, Jessica Pegula breezed through the challenge of Sloane Stephens to win 6-2 6-2, which would have set up a tantalising all-American matchup against her doubles partner and rising star Coco Gauff, but she could not hold up her end of the bargain.

Gauff fell 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 6-3 to Victoria Azarenka, giving the Belarusian her third consecutive top-20 win after earning her spot in the quarter-final with victories over world number eight Paula Badosa and world number 15 Madison Keys.

Simona Halep said she felt "confused and betrayed" after being handed a provisional suspension for failing a drug test.

The International Tennis Integrity Agency announced on Friday the 31-year-old had tested positive for roxadustat, a prohibited substance, after providing two samples while competing at the US Open in August.

She was notified of a rule violation on October 7 and now faces a fight to avoid a ban from the sport.

In a statement, the ITIA said: "While provisionally suspended, the player is ineligible to compete in or attend any sanctioned tennis event organised by the governing bodies of the sport."

Swiftly responding, former French Open and Wimbledon champion Halep denied all knowledge of taking the substance and said the sanction was the "biggest shock" of her life.

"Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth," she posted on social media.

"I have been notified that I tested positive for a substance called roxadustat in an extremely low quantity, which came as the biggest shock of my life.

"Throughout my whole career, the idea of cheating never even crossed my mind once, as it is totally against all the values I have been educated with. Facing such an unfair situation, I feel completely confused and betrayed.

"I will fight until the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance and I have faith that sooner or later, the truth will come out.

"It's not about the titles or the money. It's about honour, and the love story I have developed with the game of tennis over the last 25 years."

The 31-year-old former world number one announced in September she would miss the rest of the season after undergoing nose surgery, with it unclear how long her recovery would take.

American teenager Coco Gauff showed why she deserves to be at this year's WTA Finals with a commanding 6-0 6-3 victory over Martina Trevisan at the Guadalajara Open.

The fifth seed clinched her maiden spot at the season-ending WTA Finals on Wednesday and backed that up by securing her third WTA 1000 quarter-final on Thursday.

Gauff reeled off the first nine games of the match against Trevisan, where she triumphed in one hour and one minute. The 18-year-old came under pressure from Trevisan, who generated nine break points for the match but Gauff saved all bar one of them.

World number one Iga Swiatek (47) is the only player to have won more matches this year in straight sets than Gauff (32).

Gauff will face Victoria Azarenka in the quarter-finals after the Belarusian toppled 13th seed Madison Keys 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 in two hours and 13 minutes.

Two-time Australian Open winner Azarenka swept aside Keys in 32 minutes in the third set after a titanic battle in the opening two frames, winning 26 of the 37 final-set points. Azarenka's quarter-final appearance is her 34th since 2009, with only four players having more during the span; Agnieszka Radwanska (42), Simona Halep (39) and Caroline Wozniacki (36).

Third seed Jessica Pegula advanced to the last eight with a 6-4 6-4 victory over former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu. 

The American, who survived three match points against Elena Rybakina on Wednesday, trailed early against the Canadian but took control of the match. Pegula will face Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals after she toppled 2022 US Open semi-finalist Caroline Garcia 7-6 (8-6) 7-5.

On the day her WTA Finals berth was confirmed, seventh seed Daria Kasatkina lost 6-2 2-6 6-3 to Anna Kalinskaya in two hours and 14 minutes.

Fourth seed Maria Sakkari fought back to win 5-7 6-3 6-3 over 14th seed Danielle Collins, while Marie Bouzkova copped a bagel before triumphing 0-6 7-5 6-3 over Liudmila Samsonova.

Sakkari will next meet eighth seed Veronika Kudermetova who beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-4 6-4. Bouzkova will take on Kalinskaya in the last eight.

It was a great day for the highly ranked Americans at the Guadalajara Open on Wednesday, headlined by world number five Jessica Pegula and her 2-6 6-3 7-6 (10-8) comeback win over Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

Pegula, who is now locked into the top-eight and therefore will qualify for the WTA Finals, struggled to win points on her serve in the opening set, but raised her 57 per cent success rate up to 69 per cent in the second set, and 66 per cent in the decider.

The American had to come from a break down in the second set to keep her tournament alive, and she will now face Canada's Bianca Andreescu in the third round.

Meanwhile, fellow United States star Coco Gauff was too good for Italy's Elisabetta Cocciaretto, winning 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 to book a third-round clash with another Italian, Martina Trevisan, who earned her way there with a 6-0 4-6 6-3 win over Katerina Siniakova.

The other two seeded Americans were also successful, with 13th seed Madison Keys coming from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6 6-4 6-3, and 14th seed Danielle Collins repelled the challenge of Magdalena Frech 6-3 6-4.

There were positive signs for former world number five Eugenie Bouchard, who ended up losing, but showed she still has her talent by taking a set off world number 23 Jelena Ostapenko in a 7-5 2-6 6-1 result.

Russian pair Anna Kalinskaya and Liudmila Samsonova both emerged in three-set outings, with Kalinskaya outlasting Elise Mertens 6-4 0-6 7-5, while Samsonova upset world number four Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 2-6 6-2.

World number 12 Veronika Kudermetova kept her WTA Finals hopes alive with a 6-4 7-5 win over Donna Vekic, and the Czech Republic's Marie Bouzkova ousted Colombia's Camila Osorio 6-3 6-1.

In the late window, Sloane Stephens eliminated Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-4, and top overall seed Paula Badosa retired due to injury after losing the first set 6-2 against Victoria Azarenka.

The top seed in action on Tuesday at the Guadalajara Open made it through her opening match unscathed as Maria Sakkari defeated Marta Kostyuk 6-4 6-4.

Sakkari is one of the players needing a strong result in the tournament to break into the top-eight of the world rankings to qualify for the upcoming WTA Finals, entering the week at 10th, but only needing to make up one spot, with number eight Simona Halep out due to injury.

With her victory over Kostyuk, Sakkari avoided notching four consecutive losses for the first time this season, and will likely only need one more win to move into WTA Finals contention.

Her next opponent appears to be world number 16 Danielle Collins, who had no issue dispatching American compatriot Caroline Dolehide 6-4 6-1 to book her second-round fixture against Magdalena Frech after the Polish qualifier beat Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-4.

World number seven Daria Kasatkina also should be locked into the WTA Finals after cruising past China's Lin Zhu 6-1 6-2, while 18th-ranked Beatriz Haddad Maia's season is over after a disappointing 7-5 6-2 upset loss to Katerina Siniakova.

Petra Kvitova needed to reach the final to have a chance of qualifying, but after a strong first set she fell 3-6 6-2 6-0 against Canada's Bianca Andreescu. In a good day for the Canadians, Eugenie Bouchard also beat Kayla Day 7-5 6-3 as the former world number five fights her way back up the rankings after a long injury layoff.

Italy's Elisabetta Cocciaretto defeated Russia's Anastasia Potapova 6-2 6-1, while Latvia's top talent Jelena Ostapenko cruised past America's Lauren Davis 6-1 6-3.

Madison Keys was too strong for Magda Linette in a 6-3 6-3 triumph, and in an all-Czech matchup, Marie Bouzkova downed Tereza Martincova 6-2 7-5.

Croatia's Donna Vekic eliminated Brazil's Laura Pigossi 6-4 6-1, and Italy's Martina Trevisan showed why she is top-30 in the world with a convincing 6-4 6-3 straight sets win against Japan's Nao Hibino.

In the last match of the night, world number 10 Caroline Garcia survived an early scared to come from behind and defeat Rebecca Marino 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

Victoria Azarenka has booked a clash with the top seed of the Guadalajara Open after defeating Elina Avanesyan 6-4 6-2 in Monday's opening round.

In the last event of the season before the WTA Finals, Belarus' Azarenka was too strong with her return game for her Russian opponent, winning 53 per cent (32-of-60) of her return points while capitalising on five-of-seven break point opportunities to earn a shot at world number eight Paula Badosa.

While Azarenka has no chance of qualifying for the WTA Finals – with only the top-eight players in the rankings making it through – Belinda Bencic is one of the players who can sneak in with a great result this week.

Needing to make the semi-finals to have a chance, she got off on the right foot with a 7-5 6-7 (10-12) 6-3 win against Leylah Fernandez in her opening match.

Petra Kvitova can also qualify if she reaches the final, and she started without issue, defeating Bernarda Pera 6-3 7-5.

Ekaterina Alexandrova had an outside chance of claiming a WTA Finals spot if she won this tournament, but she was the victim of the day's biggest upset, falling 6-4 7-6 (10-8) to Camila Osorio.

At 22nd in the world, Liudmila Samsonova is the lowest-ranked player in the field with a mathematical chance at qualification, but she is a step closer after handling Kaia Kanepi 6-1 7-5.

Despite Fernandez's earlier loss, it was a strong day for the Canadians, with Bianca Andreescu proving too good in her 6-2 6-4 victory against Jil Teichmann, and Rebecca Marino also only needed two sets to defeat Ann Li 6-2 7-6 (7-2).

China's Lin Zhu came from a set behind to beat France's Alize Cornet 3-6 6-3 6-4, while Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk had a much quicker result in her 6-1 6-3 triumph over Belarus' Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

World number 34 Elise Mertens had no problems in one of the biggest mismatches of the day as she defeated world number 185 Asia Muhammad 6-3 6-2, and Sloane Stephens needed only 54 minutes to advance 6-0 6-2 past Linda Fruhvirtova.

In the last match of the night, Mexico's top chance Fernanda Contreras Gomez was eliminated by Alja Tomljanovic 6-2 6-1.

Iga Swiatek says she "wanted to go all in" to ensure she won her eighth WTA Tour title of 2022 with a 6-3 3-6 6-0 victory over Donna Vekic in the San Diego Open final on Sunday.

Swiatek became the fifth player since 2000 to win eight or more WTA-level titles in a single season after Martina Hingis, Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin.

She did not have it all her own way against Vekic, with the Croatian world number 47 battling back from losing the opener to take the second set and level the match.

But Swiatek showed her class in the decisive third set, breaking Vekic three times to romp to the title.

The world number one says she had to give it everything to ensure victory over Vekic in a tough match, saying at her on-court presentation: "It was a really tight match and pretty long.

"We felt the intensity for sure. At the end I wanted to be the one who played the last ball in. I wanted to go all in.

"Knowing how well she can serve, I just wanted to be more loosened up on my return games - not think too much, use my intuition and fight for every ball."

With her round-of-16 win over Zheng Qinwen, Swiatek became the first player to win 61 matches in a single season since Caroline Wozniacki in 2017.

Frighteningly for her opponents, the 21-year-old spoke after that win of her belief that she was still a few years away from her prime.

"I wasn't expecting to have this kind of season this year," Swiatek told reporters. 

"I thought, maybe, I'm going to be at my peak when I'm 24, 25, and have that experience, maybe results like that are going to come."

Swiatek's 64 wins in 2022 is the most for any woman since Serena Williams' 78 in 2013, while the Pole has lost just one match in the United States this year.

Swiatek intends to take full advantage of San Diego's sun and sand as she celebrates another title, making it 11 wins and just two defeats in finals.

"I am speechless," the 21-year-old said in a video on Twitter. "I'm so proud of me and the team that we actually won this tournament.

"It wasn't easy so I'm happy that I believe in myself and I fought to the last point.

"I love San Diego, I'm going to enjoy the beach tomorrow!"

World number one Iga Swiatek claimed her eighth WTA Tour title of the season, storming home to claim a three-set victory over Donna Vekic in the San Diego Open final on Sunday.

Swiatek improved her record in the United States to 24-1 this season with the victory in one hour and 47 minutes, getting past the Croatian qualifier 6-3 3-6 6-0.

The Pole previously won the US Open, along with the Indian Wells and Miami titles this season.

Top seed Swiatek secured her 64th win of the season, which is the most since Serena Williams won 78 in 2013.

Vekic ensured it was not easy for Swiatek, continuing her excellent week – knocking out Maria Sakkari, Karolina Pliskova, Aryna Sabalenka and Danielle Collins - with a strong second set.

The Croatian actually had to complete her semi-final earlier on Sunday after a rain-interrupted encounter with Collins, winning 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-2) after resuming 4-2 down in the third set, before taking on Swiatek.

Swiatek's dominance was felt, winning 82 per cent of her second-serve points, ruthlessly converting four of six break points as well.

Vekic only generated one break point for the match but she took it, keeping the match alive in the second set where she was more aggressive.

The 2022 US Open and French Open champion responded emphatically in the final frame, capitalising on three of four break points and winning 24 of the 29 points for the set to triumph.

Qualifier Anna Blinkova landed the first WTA singles title of her career by beating Jasmine Paolini in Sunday's Transylvania Open final.

The 24-year-old world number 138 had to come through qualifying in Cluj-Napoca, and she completed a stellar campaign at the Romanian event by getting her hands on the trophy.

Blinkova won 6-2 3-6 6-2 in an hour and 41 minutes, scotching Paolini's hopes of a second title in her tour career.

"I felt great the whole 10 days that I spent here since last Wednesday," the Russian said in her trophy acceptance speech. "I'm really looking forward to coming back next year."

The WTA said Blinkova's success made her the fifth qualifier to secure a tour title in 2022, following victories for Tatjana Maria in Bogota, Anastasia Potapova in Istanbul, Bernarda Pera in Budapest and Caroline Garcia in Cincinnati.

Blinkova, who was once ranked 54th in the world, will return to the world's top 100 on Monday.

World number one Iga Swiatek qualified for her ninth WTA Tour of the year, coming from a set down to get past fourth seed Jessica Pegula at the San Diego Open on a rain-affected Saturday.

Swiatek was at her dominant best against Pegula after dropping the opening frame, breaking her opponents' serve four times in the latter two sets to triumph 4-6 6-2 6-2 in two hours and six minutes.

The Pole extended her domination of Pegula this year, winning all four of their encounters in 2022, while the victory is her 63rd of the season, equaling Angelique Kerber's mark from 2016. Swiatek is also 23-1 in the United States this season.

Swiatek finished with 22-8 forehand winners, while she won 75 per cent of her second serves, compared to Pegula's 38 per cent.

After Pegula won the first set that included three breaks of serve, the match was halted for more than an hour due to rain, with Swiatek revealing post-game she passed time with crosswords.

That worked for the top seed who raced to a 3-0 second-set lead after the resumption and did not drop serve for the remainder of the match, saving three break points at 2-2 in the third.

The 2022 French Open and US Open champion will take on either Croatian qualifier Donna Vekic or American world number 19 Danielle Collins in Sunday's decider after their semi-final was ultimately suspended due to rain.

Collins leads Vekic 4-6 6-4 4-2 with the match restarted three times after rain, before the call was made to postpone it until Sunday, no earlier than 12.30pm local time, with the final to be played later in the day.

Anna Blinkova advanced to her first WTA Tour singles final in one of two marathon last-four upsets at the Transylvania Open on Saturday.

Blinkova, the world number 138, had to come through qualifying in Cluj-Napoca but has built her momentum over the course of the week.

The Russian eliminated second seed Anhelina Kalinina in the quarter-finals on Friday, and continued her excellent form by downing compatriot Anastasia Potapova in the semis.

Number four seed Potapova took the opener against Blinkova, but the 24-year-old rallied to a 5-7 6-4 6-4 win to break new ground on the Tour.

Now, however, Blinkova faces an opponent who has beaten her twice in a row, dropping only seven games in the process.

Jasmine Paolini is herself playing only her second singles final on Sunday, having toppled seventh seed Wang Xiyu after two and a half hours on Saturday.

The Italian also required three sets, recovering her composure after being pegged back in the second to progress 7-5 4-6 6-3.

Elina Svitolina gave birth to her and husband Gael Monfils' first child on Saturday.

The couple, who married in July 2021, have announced the arrival of daughter Skai Monfils.

Former world number three Svitolina and two-time grand slam semi-finalist Monfils announced last May they were expecting a baby girl.

Svitolina posted on Instagram on Saturday: "Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Skai Monfils.

"Can't thank enough my husband to live [through] this unforgettable moment with me."

Monfils wrote on social media: "I had the most amazing night of my life, which ended with the most beautiful gift around 6.00am.

"Elina was strong and brave. I can't [thank] enough my wife and God for this special moment. Welcome to the world my little princess Skai."

World number one Iga Swiatek thrashed Coco Gauff to clinch a third straight WTA Tour semi-finals berth after moving into the San Diego Open final four on Friday.

Swiatek was irrepressible against the 18-year-old American, extending her head-to-head dominance to 4-0 with a 6-0 6-3 victory in 66 minutes.

The Pole won the first eight games of the match and always appeared in control with her reliable forehand a key feature.

Swiatek laced 13 winners with only nine unforced errors, breaking Gauff five times. The American committed 26 unforced errors for the match.

The victory is Swiatek's 62nd of the season, moving her closer to Angelique Kerber's 2016 mark of 63.

Swiatek will face fourth seed Jessica Pegula in the semi-finals as the Pole aims for her eighth WTA title of the season.

Pegula secured her berth in the final four with a 6-4 7-5 victory over compatriot Madison Keys in their first-ever meeting in one hour and 34 minutes.

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka was a surprise casualty as Croatian qualifier Donna Vekic continued her excellent week with a 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 in two hours and 37 minutes.

World number 77 Vekic has beaten former world number three Maria Sakkari and two-time major finalist Karolina Pliskova this week.

Second seed Paula Badosa was also bundled out by American Danielle Collins 7-6 (7-5) 6-4. Collins will meet Vekic in the last four.

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