Second seed Marie Bouzkova suffered a shock first-round exit at the Monterrey Open losing in straight sets to world number 100 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova on Monday.

The Slovakian triumphed 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 46 minutes over the Czech who was a runner-up at this event in 2020.

Schmiedlova will take on American qualifier Caroline Dolehide in the second round after she knocked off Jule Niemeier 6-1 6-0.

Dolehide's dominance was impressive given she is ranked 206th in the world compared to 2022 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Niemeier at 69th.

Fifth seed Zhu Lin got past Hungary's Anna Bondar 6-4 7-6 (7-4), setting up a second-round clash with Canada's Rebecca Marino after she beat local wildcard Fernanda Contreras Gomez 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-4).

Belgium's Ysaline Bonaventure triumphed in two hours and 20 minutes over Greek qualifier Despina Papamichail 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-1.

British qualifier Heather Watson toppled Danka Kovinic 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 in the first round of the ATX Open in Austin.

Seventh seed Alycia Parks was eliminated 6-4 4-6 6-4 by Swedish wild card Mirjam Bjorklund.

Novak Djokovic is amassing such a dossier of evidence that no sober judge would dispute his claims, but debate still rages as to who is the greatest men's tennis player of all time.

The 35-year-old has now racked up 378 weeks at number one on the singles rankings, not only improving his record among the men but also this week going past Steffi Graf, the leader on the women's tour.

Djokovic has won 10 of the last 16 grand slams he has contested, all since turning 30, and has moved level with Rafael Nadal on 22 singles majors, the most ever captured by a man.

His stockpiling of Masters 1000 titles is bordering on being greedy, with a record 38 tucked away, and although he turns 36 in May there is no sign of Djokovic slowing down.

Tommy Haas snatched three wins from nine encounters with Djokovic, while the Serbian was going up through the gears early in his career.

Haas told Stats Perform he sees Djokovic as a player who wants to "end that debate" over who is the greatest, but there are good grounds to reason the man from Belgrade has already done enough.

 

Djokovic's compelling case

With plenty of miles left in his legs, Djokovic has already reached 33 grand slam finals (W22 L11), the most by any man. It puts him level with Serena Williams (W23 L10) and one behind Chris Evert (W18 L16), who is perhaps a surprising leader in this field.

Given his form in the past 12 months, it would be astonishing if Djokovic does not reach more slam finals this year.

He has also won 38 Masters titles – the next rung down from the grand slams – and is not just the only singles player to have won every one of these nine tournaments, he has won each one at least twice.

Djokovic's six end-of-season ATP Finals titles puts him level with Federer.

Adding together grand slams, ATP Finals crowns and Masters 1000 wins, Djokovic has 66 of these so-called 'Big Titles', seven more than Nadal, who sits second on the list. It bears pointing out the Masters events only began in 1990, so this puts players of the modern era at an advantage, but the domination of these events by the likes of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer mirrors their unprecedented grand slam supremacy.

Djokovic has an 83.5 per cent career win-loss record (W 1,043, L 206), the best of all players with at least 200 matches on tour during the Open Era (since 1968).

In the slams, his win-loss record of 341-47 gives Djokovic an 87.9 per cent winning record, just a shade behind Nadal's 88 per cent, and ahead of Federer (86 per cent).

Djokovic is rapidly closing in on overtaking Nadal's win percentage, having powered through his last 14 matches at the majors, triumphing at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

These winning percentages at the slams by the Big Three are not the absolute highest of all time, but considering Djokovic, Nadal and Federer have regularly had to play one another over the past two decades, that is easily explained.

Only Bjorn Borg (71.1 per cent) has a higher win percentage against top-10 players than Djokovic's 69.4 per cent, but Borg's career was relatively brief, stepping off the tour in his mid-20s, with Djokovic a model of sustained excellence.

Djokovic is playing in Dubai this week, seeking more trophy success.

The expert's view

"He's the ultimate competitive warrior out there," says Tommy Haas. "He doesn't leave a stone unturned, does everything that he possibly can to be the best that he can be."

Haas is now tournament director at the Indian Wells Masters – aka the BNP Paribas Open – and he had better results than most against Djokovic, scoring wins on grass in Halle and Wimbledon in 2009 before repeating the trick on hard court in Miami four years later.

Djokovic, it can be argued, is a better player at 35 than he was at 25, and he is certainly more dominant. The man who feeds off his inner "wolf energy" has lost none of his bite.

"He's spoken about it himself many times, the sort of upbringing that he had, the experiences that he had to go through just to put so much grit in him, so much fire and fighting power. And you see it. The guy is an absolute beast out there," Haas said.

"There's no doubt in my mind that in his mind he wants to become the greatest of all time and win the most slams and end that debate and I think that's that's what he's looking to do.

"We're getting a little bit ahead of ourselves now but let's just say he does have the most slams. He's won every Masters series there is, maybe the most of all of them as well. Longest number one, most slams and then I think there is no room to argue."

Is winning enough to define greatness?

Yes. It has to be. In hand-to-hand combat, whether in war or something as relatively frivolous at tennis, it's all about getting the better of the enemy. Then it's about continuing to do so, and if it's easy on the eye, all well and good.

Roger Federer played the most sumptuous tennis that made him a bigger draw than anyone, and the Swiss great was also a sensational winner to boot, and a charmer, but Djokovic is picking off his records one by one.

Does this make Djokovic the most popular tennis player of all time? No, he rarely exhibits the warmth of personality that Federer brought, the crowd-pleasing flourishes are in shorter supply, and he brings some of the bad press and occasional crowd antipathy on himself.

But winning is the priority for Djokovic, and nobody does it better.

Haas says: "Really, can you say does he have the prettiest game or the best shot selection or this and that? Without Roger and without Rafa he would have been pushed to become that good of a player? Maybe not. And you have to always look at every generation pushing each other and all that stuff.

"And the debates can go on and on. Bjorn Borg retired when he was 26 years old, he won 11 slams. What if he would have played 10 more years? Yeah, he probably could have had 20."

But Djokovic has 22 and is hurtling towards Margaret Court's 24 slams, the most by a woman. There is no doubt he believes he can go beyond that, and keep going.

Shingo Kunieda won 28 wheelchair singles majors, and Djokovic might even get up towards that number.

For now, the number that matters is number one. Whether you like him or not, the man they call Nole is hurtling into history as the champion supreme.

Camila Giorgi claimed her first WTA title since 2021 as she overcame Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson in three sets to secure the Merida Open crown on Sunday.

World number 68 Giorgi triumphed 7-6 (7-3) 1-6 6-2 over Peterson in a see-sawing decider that lasted two hours and 25 minutes in Mexico.

Giorgi seemed in strife when she trailed 2-0 in the third set after losing a lopsided second frame, but hit back emphatically by reeling off the final six games.

The victory was Giorgi's fourth WTA title and first since winning the Canadian Open in 2021, helping her return to the top-50 when the next rankings are released on Monday.

The Italian had qualified for her 10th career WTA final without dropping a set, including a 6-0 6-0 double bagel rout of second seed Sloane Stephens in the quarter-finals.

Peterson had enjoyed a resurgent tournament after an injury-hit 2022 season, but was unable to claim her first WTA title since 2019.

Emma Raducanu has withdrawn from the inaugural Austin Open after contracting tonsillitis.

The 20-year-old has not played since her defeat in the Australian Open to Coco Gauff in January.

The Briton shot to tennis stardom with victory at the 2021 US Open, setting a record for the fewest majors played (two) before winning a title.

But a frustrating run of injuries and poor form across 2022, which also included numerous coaching changes, has seen her plummet to number 81 in the WTA Rankings and fail to reach the third round of a slam since her famous triumph.

"I'm sorry to have to withdraw from the ATX Open," Raducanu said on Sunday,

"I am currently suffering from tonsillitis and am unable to compete this week. Thank you to the tournament for the great hospitality here in Austin."

Italian Camila Giorgi knocked out another seed on her way to clinching a spot in the Merida Open final where she will face Sweden's Rebecca Peterson.

Giorgi triumphed 7-5 7-6 (7-2) over fourth seed Katerina Siniakova in two hours and 12 minutes in Saturday's semi-final in Akron.

The Italian world number 68 had routed second seed Sloane Stephens 6-0 6-0 on Friday to earn her spot in the last four.

Swedish qualifier Peterson secured her final berth with a 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 over American Caty McNally.

The topsy-turvy match lasted almost three hours, with Peterson fighting back from 4-0 down in the third set by winning the final six games for victory.

Barbora Krejcikova stunned Iga Swiatek to win the Dubai Tennis Championships, cruising past the world number one in straight sets to clinch her first WTA 1000 title. 

By following up victories over Aryna Sabalenka and Jessica Pegula with a ruthless 6-4 6-2 dismantling of Swiatek, Krejcikova became just the fifth woman to beat each of the world's top three players at a single tournament in the last 40 years.

Krejcikova entered Saturday's meeting as the only player to have beaten Swiatek in her eight hard-court finals at tour level, having done so at the Ostrava Open last October.

The Czech looked to be drawing on that experience as she made a flying start, breaking in the opening game through a well-struck backhand. 

Though Swiatek responded with a break of her own in the sixth game, a rare double fault from the Pole saw the momentum swing Krejcikova's way.

Another excellent backhand return gave Krejcikova the opening set's decisive break, after which a visibly frustrated Swiatek was handed a time violation by the umpire.

Things did not get much better from there for the three-time grand slam winner, with a series of masterful returns helping Krejcikova seal two dominant breaks before wrapping things up.

Having clinched a highly impressive win within 91 minutes, Krejcikova told Amazon Prime Video: "It means a lot. 

"It was a great week for me, I was improving with every single game and today, I think I showed my best. 

"I really have to admire Iga for what she is doing. To me, she is a big inspiration and she motivates me every day. It was a great final and I'm definitely happy with the result."

Barbora Krejcikova will play Iga Swiatek for the Dubai Tennis Championships title after settling a see-saw semi-final against Jessica Pegula in ruthless fashion.

Having seen Swiatek brush aside Coco Gauff in straight sets in the first match of the day, Krejcikova would have been confident of doing likewise after taking the opener against Pegula.

Third seed Pegula battled back to take the second set, though, and the American appeared to have momentum on her side, only to bow out in a one-sided decider, losing 6-1 5-7 6-0 for her first defeat to Krejcikova.

The pair's only prior meeting had been a straight-sets win for Pegula at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Pegula's sole other tournament since Melbourne had ended in similar circumstances to this one, with a 6-3 6-0 crushing at the hands of Swiatek in the final of last week's Qatar Open. The Pole is who Krejcikova must play next.

Krejcikova is the first player since Svetlana Kuznetsova in Cincinnati in 2019 to beat two top-three opponents at the same WTA 1000 tournament.

Yet after seeing off number two Aryna Sabalenka in the quarter-finals and number three Pegula in the semis, she faces the world number one in the final.

Swiatek has had a rather more straightforward path, granted a walkover in the last eight and then, on Friday, playing Gauff, who she continues to dominate.

The Pole is now 6-0 across her career against Gauff, winning all of those matches in straight sets.

Gauff at least made Swiatek work a little harder than she has in many recent matches, going down 6-4 6-2 – the first match since Melbourne in which the number one has not won a set either 6-0 or 6-1, piling up the 'bagels' and 'breadsticks'.

Swiatek is 2-1 against Krejcikova for her career, although the Czech won their most recent meeting and their only encounter in a final in Ostrava last year.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka lost for the first time in 14 matches, and Coco Gauff set up a semi-final clash with Iga Swiatek at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Thursday.

Sabalenka fought back from a set down to end the title defence of Jelena Ostapenko a day earlier, but she came up short against Barbora Krejcikova as her Czech opponent overcame a tough first set to run out a 0-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 victor.

Sabalenka, playing in her first event since claiming a maiden grand slam title in Melbourne, romped into the lead by breaking Krejcikova's serve three times to go a set ahead.

But the world number two was pegged back in the second as Krejcikova battled to force a tie-break, which she dominated to level the match.

Krejcikova then completed the shock victory in style, breaking the second seed twice in the final set before clinching the win on her third match point to end Sabalenka's run of 13 straight triumphs.

Karolina Muchova's withdrawal due to an abdominal injury means it is Jessica Pegula who will face Krejcikova in the semi-finals on Friday.

After Swiatek reached the final four by virtue of Karolina Pliskova pulling out because of an illness, Gauff set up a sixth meeting with the world number one by beating Madison Keys 6-2 7-5.

In those five previous clashes between the pair, Gauff is yet to win a set.

But after cruising past Keys, doing so by converting four of five break points and winning 90 per cent of her service games, Gauff is confident of improving her dismal record against Swiatek on Friday.

"All five times, I did something wrong," Gauff said. "To be honest, she's playing great tennis and there's a reason she's world number one. 

"Tomorrow I have no pressure. I just have to play my game. I definitely think I've gotten better since the last time I played her.

"Ranking is just a number at the end of the day. You just have to step on the court believing you can win, and that's what I'm going to do tomorrow."

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka fought back from a set down to end the title defence of Jelena Ostapenko at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Sabalenka, playing in her first event since claiming a maiden grand slam title in Melbourne, recovered from falling behind in style to win 2-6 6-1 6-1 on Wednesday.

Ostapenko won the tournament last year and looked to be in with a chance of extending her winning streak in Dubai to seven matches.

But Sabalenka launched a strong recovery to reach the quarter-finals and extend a stunning run to start the season to 13 consecutive wins.

The second seed tightened up her game in the second and third sets and will face either Petra Kvitova or Barbora Krejcikova in the last eight.

Sabalenka had been broken three times by Ostapenko in the opening set, but she only had to fend off one break point from there.

"In the first set, she played unbelievable tennis and I couldn't do anything," Sabalenka said.

"I was looking at my team asking like, 'What can I do?', but somehow, I turned around this game and started playing really incredible tennis. 

"She plays really fast, deep balls, and I tried to stay super low, stay focused, and try to put more balls in than she did. I'm so happy that I did it."

A lower back injury for Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina robbed supporters of what had looked like being a thrilling matchup against Coco Gauff.

The withdrawal of Rybakina meant Gauff progressed via a walkover and will face fellow American Madison Keys next.

Keys and Gauff have played twice before, winning one match apiece.

It was Gauff who won their most recent encounter in the third round of the US Open last year.

Top seed Iga Swiatek had earlier booked her place in the last eight, with the Pole's latest dominant showing in Dubai earning praise on social media from Andy Murray.

And news followed that Karolina Pliskova, her semi-final opponent, had been forced to withdraw.

Swiatek benefited from a walkover in the quarter-finals en route to winning the Qatar Open last week and is now only two wins away from another title.

Iga Swiatek stormed into the last eight at the Dubai Tennis Championships with an emphatic victory over Liudmila Samsonova.

It only took 76 minutes for the number one seed to record a 6-1 6-0 triumph on Wednesday, continuing a fine run after her triumph in Qatar last week.

Swiatek had only narrowly beaten Samsonova in an epic three-set encounter in the Stuttgart semi-finals last year, but was completely dominant this time around at the WTA 1000 event.

Samsonova struggled in recording a first-serve percentage of just 58.5, and Swiatek was ruthless in winning 19 of 22 points on the Russian's second serve.

Swiatek did not even have to fend off a break point in cruising to victory and will play Karolina Pliskova in the quarters.

Pliskova, the two-time grand slam finalist, battled to a 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 win over Anhelina Kalinina to reach the last eight in Dubai for the fifth time in her career.

There were also two American successes, with Madison Keys needing only 57 minutes to beat Victoria Azarenka, who appeared to be struggling with her movement.

Keys had lost all of her previous four meetings with Azarenka but triumphed 6-2 6-1 in routine fashion.

And Jessica Pegula joined her compatriot in progressing, winning her first career meeting with Ana Bogdan in straight sets.

Elsewhere, 2019 winner Belinda Bencic crashed out, with Karolina Muchova, who also knocked out Maria Sakkari this week, triumphing 6-1 6-4 to book a quarter-final date with Pegula.

Iga Swiatek continued her ruthless form as she progressed with ease to the WTA Dubai Tennis Championships third round on Tuesday.

The world number one cruised to a 6-1 6-1 triumph over 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez, just three days after winning the Qatar Ladies Open in Doha.

That marked Swiatek's 41st main-draw victory in WTA 1000 events in just her 53rd outing, only Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova (52 each) have won more than 40 such matches in fewer attempts.

The 21-year-old has won her last 35 hard-court matches against opponents ranked outside the world's top 30, though Swiatek said she had to adapt against Canada's Fernandez.

"It wasn't that easy for sure. It was much tougher than the score said," said Swiatek, who will look to make the fourth round for the first time in Dubai when she faces Liudmila Samsonova.

"In the second set ... I needed to go a level up. I didn't have much time to get used to the conditions, but I'm just happy I could play solid tennis."

Jessica Pegula, the third favourite at the tournament, defeated Viktoriya Tomova 6-2 5-7 6-1 to set up a third-round battle with Ana Bogdan, who overcame Shelby Rogers 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.

Fifth seed Coco Gauff coasted past Aliaksandra Sasnovich with a 6-0 6-4 victory, teeing up a meeting with Elena Rybakina, who slammed six aces in a 7-5 6-2 defeat of Marie Bouzkova.

World number two Aryna Sabalenka, who defeated Rybakina at this year's Australian Open final, made light work of lucky loser Lauren Davis in a straight-sets rout as she claimed her 12th straight win in 2023.

Dubai's defending champion Jelena Ostapenko will be the next challenge for Sabalenka after defeating 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova for her seventh straight win at the event.

Barbora Krejcikova saved four match points en route to a 6-4 4-6 7-5 win over seventh seed Daria Kasatkina and will meet Karolina Pliskova next after she downed sixth favourite Maria Sakkari in straight sets.

Belinda Bencic and Marta Kostyuk played out the match of the day as the former claimed a 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 triumph, with that clash taking three hours and 27 minutes – the second-longest on the WTA Tour this year.

Sorana Cirstea beat world number 12 Beatriz Haddad Maia in the longest WTA Tour match of the year so far at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Liudmila Samsonova ousted Paula Badosa on Sunday in a three-set victory that lasted three hours and 22 minutes.

That record was exceeded by eight minutes a day later – Cirstea prevailing 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 7-5 in her first-round encounter with 11th seed Haddad Maia.

Cirstea, ranked 70th in the world, fended off two match points in the second-set tie-break and took that momentum into the decider.

Haddad Maia has lost four of her five meetings with Cirstea, though had defeated the Romanian in Adelaide in January.

"I fought really hard today. I really think I gave it all," Cirstea said.

"I have nothing left. Sometimes you just have to stay in there. Bia played amazing. You know, tennis is not fair sometimes. You play for three hours and a half, and it's a difference of a point.

"I wasn't planning to break the record! But Bia's been in great form, and I knew coming in she's a great fighter.

"I think this is what tennis is about, where all the work pays off. Sometimes it doesn't matter if it's a first round or a final, the joy is the same."

Another marathon encounter was played out between Veronika Kudermetova and Anhelina Kalinina, with the latter winning 6-3 5-7 7-5 in three hours and three minutes.

Karolina Muchova will face Cirstea in the next round after she saw off Bernarda Pera 6-1 6-4, with her victory including an early contender for shot of the tournament.

Muchova was scampering back towards the baseline as she looked set to lose a thrilling rally, only for the Czech to execute a perfect tweener lob.

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka received a bye to round two, where she will face Lauren Davis after the American's victory over Jil Teichmann.

Jelena Ostapenko dispatched Katarina Zavatska 6-1 6-4 with the minimum of fuss, while Victoria Azarenka overcame Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets.

Azarenka has won 135 WTA-1000 main-draw matches in straights sets, at least three more than any other player.

Karolina Pliskova defeated Marketa Vondrousova to set up a meeting with Yulia Putintseva, with Ana Bodgan, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Shelby Rogers also victorious.

Novak Djokovic claimed a share of yet more history on Monday as he started his 377th week as world number one.

Djokovic has won 22 major titles, the joint-most among men, and has long since held the record for the most weeks at the top of the ATP rankings.

His nearest rival on the men's tour – since the rankings were introduced in 1973 – is the now retired Roger Federer, who spent 310 weeks in top spot.

But Djokovic has also matched Steffi Graf, the WTA leader, in making it to 377 weeks.

Graf was the women's number one 45 weeks longer than second-placed Martina Navratilova (332), with Serena Williams in third (319).

The WTA rankings began in 1975.

Liudmila Samsonova progressed after a marathon battle at the Dubai Tennis Championships, while Petra Kvitova breezed through as the seeds escaped unscathed on Sunday.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, the 12th favourite in the United Arab Emirates, eased past Italy's Martina Trevisan 6-2 6-1 to make a dominant start.

World number 15 Samsonova was made to work to beat Paula Badosa, winning 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to tee up a clash with Qinwen Zheng, who overcame compatriot Zhang Shuai in straight sets.

Samsonova's triumph took three hours and 22 minutes, the longest match of the WTA Tour season thus far, in a thrilling first-round encounter between two top-20 players.

"Playing against Paula is always tough," 14th seed Samsonova said in her on-court interview. "She's doing unbelievable, so I'm really proud that I stayed on the court until the end.

"I think I'm growing match after match, day by day. I know it's a long journey, and I hope to continue like that."

Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion, cruised into the last 32 with a comfortable 6-4 6-2 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu as she aims to go one better than her runners-up finish two years ago in Dubai.

Another routine victory saw American Madison Keys ease past Jasmine Paolini 6-1 6-1, but there was no such luck for 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.

She was dispatched 6-1 6-1 by world number 26 Marie Bouzkova, while Amanda Anisimova claimed a 6-3 6-2 win over veteran two-time grand slam finalist Vera Zvonareva.

Viktoriya Tomova had too much for Kaia Kanepi in a 6-3 6-1 success, with her reward a second-round clash against third seed Jessica Pegula.

World number four Pegula lost to the in-form Iga Swiatek in the Qatar Ladies Open final on Saturday, and Leylah Fernandez will face the Pole next after beating Julia Grabher 6-4 6-2.

Iga Swiatek avenged an early-season loss to Jessica Pegula as she stormed to the Qatar Open title on Saturday, completing a stunning trophy defence.

In three matches, Swiatek surrendered only five games, sealing the title with a 6-3 6-0 victory over American Pegula.

A heavy defeat to Pegula in Sydney at the beginning of the year saw Swiatek reduced to tears, and she then lost in the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne, albeit to eventual finalist Elena Rybakina.

Now Swiatek is back, with brutal wins over Danielle Collins and Veronika Kudermetova – allowing both players just one game each – preceding her dismissal of Pegula in the final.

The 21-year-old has 12 career titles and is off the mark in 2023, extending her head-to-head dominance to 5-2 over world number four Pegula.

Swiatek said: "I don't care how many games are won or lost. I just feel like I really found my rhythm here, and after a tough beginning of the season I could stay focused from the beginning to the end of the matches, and I'm pretty happy with my performance.

"I hope playing well here is going to be a routine."

The world number one sent a message of support during her on-court speech to the people of war-torn Ukraine, for whom she has helped to raise funds over the last 12 months.

Swiatek, from Poland, said she felt "a real throwback to last year", when this event was taking place as the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

"This was the first tournament where I had a chance to make a speech when the war started in Ukraine," she said. "I feel like we all have pretty short memories, but we should all support Ukrainians with everything they're coping with every day.

"It's pretty disappointing the situation is not changing, but hopefully they will stay strong."

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