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CONNECTICUT, August 25, 2018 (News Wires) - Aryna Sabalenka moved within one win of her first WTA victory after defeating fifth seed Julia Goerges 6-4 7-6(3) to reach the final of the Connecticut Open.

The 20-year-old Belarusian put Goerges under constant pressure with her aggressive style, winning 14 break points to grind the German down.

The in-form Sabalenka will be playing in her third final this season, having lost to Elise Mertens at the Ladies Open Lugano in April and Caroline Wozniacki at the Nature Valley International in June.

"I will tell to myself like, 'Okay, this is the next one, try to enjoy it,” Sabalenka told reporters. "Just enjoy. Don't put too much pressure."

Sabalenka will meet Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro in the final after she secured her spot when opponent Monica Puig retired at 4-4 in the first set.

Puig took a lengthy medical timeout at 4-3 and after a quick service hold by Navarro, withdrew fighting back tears.

Navarro has played very little tennis in reaching the final.

She received a walkover win in the second round when opponent Johanna Konta withdrew because of illness and Petra Kvitova also retired from their quarterfinal with a shoulder issue.

She will be playing in her first final since 2016.

“It's special because it's my first final (of the year),” she said.

“It's never easy to play a final, in a really good tournament like this, so I'm really happy to be on court tomorrow again.”


Meanwhile, Serena Williams will be banned from wearing her "Black Panther" catsuit again at the French Open after Roland Garros chiefs described the outfit as "going too far".

The 36-year-old American star stunned Paris this year in her body-hugging outfit which she said was inspired by the "Black Panther" superhero movie and made her feel like a "warrior princess".

As well as describing it as "fun and functional", Williams insisted it helped her prevent a return of the blood clots which put her life in danger after giving birth last year.

However, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) insist that the outfit or anything similarly eye-catching will not be welcome at Roland Garros in 2019.

"I really believe that sometimes we have gone too far," FFT president Bernard Giudicelli told Tennis Magazine in remarks reported by French media.

"The outfit of Serena this year, for example, will no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place. Everyone wants to enjoy the showcase."

Giudicelli said that there will be "certain limits" on clothing for the 2019 French Open although he admitted it may be difficult to take too hard a line.

"For 2019, it's a little late because the collections are already designed, but we will still ask the equipment manufacturers to communicate them to us," he said.

Former US Open winner Andy Roddick condemned the decision, tweeting: "This is so dumb and shortsighted it hurts. Sometimes it'd be nice if the sport got out of its own way."

Nike responded to the ruling with a play on the "Black Panther" theme, posting on Instagram: "You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers."

N. CAROLINA, August 23, 2018 (News Wires) - British number one Kyle Edmund continued his preparations for next week’s US Open by reaching the quarter-finals of the Winston-Salem Open.

Edmund, ranked 16 in the world, was a straight-sets winner over Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena in North Carolina.

Edmund edged a tight first set by breaking Carballes Baena for 6-5 before serving it out.

The 23-year-old third seed had three break points early in the second set but was unable to convert.

However, at 5-5 Edmund repeated the trick from the opening set and went on to wrap up a 7-5 7-5 victory in one hour and 31 minutes.

Meanwhile, number two seed Caroline Garcia survived a gruelling three-hour thriller against Aliaksandra Sasnovich to reach the quarter-finals of the Connecticut Open.

After losing the opening set on a tie-break, the Frenchwoman looked to have swung the match in her favour as she levelled the scoreboard at one set apiece.

But Garcia found herself in trouble in the decider, with her opponent storming to a 4-1 lead with a break point to make it 5-1.

The French number two dug deep, however, and reeled off five games in a row to seal a 6-7 (2/7) 6-2 6-4 victory.

Germany’s Julia Goerges also overcame a scare to make it to the final eight, taking a three-set win over Dayana Yastremska in just under two and a half hours.

The deciding set saw a total of five breaks of serve, with Goerges finally prevailing 6-4 3-6 6-4.

Meanwhile, lucky loser Belinda Bencic seized her second chance to book a quarter-final spot.

The Swiss, who lost her final-round qualifer to Yastremska, took world number one Simona Halep’s place following her withdrawal through injury and also inherited her first-round bye.

A 6-4 6-4 victory over Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi therefore propelled Bencic into the last eight.

Number seven seed Kiki Bertens and British number one Johanna Konta both withdrew due to illness before play got under way.

Konta’s second-round opponent Carla Suarez Navarro was given a walkover win into the quarter-finals.

But Bertens’ first-round replacement Pauline Parmentier could not take advantage of her lucky break and was beaten 3-6 6-2 6-2 by Anett Kontaveit.

Kontaveit will now face Monica Puig for a place in the last eight.

PARIS, August 13, 2018 (News Wires) - Simona Halep strengthened her position as women’s world number one following her latest tournament triumph, according to the WTA rankings released Monday.

The 26-year-old from Romania leads her nearest rival, Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, by a margin of more than 1,000 points following her win in Montreal.

The French Open champion beat world number three Sloane Stephens 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 6-4 in a gruelling 2hr 41min battle.

Latest WTA ranking:

1. Simona Halep (ROM)
2. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
3. Sloane Stephens (USA)
4. Angelique Kerber (GER)
5. Caroline Garcia (FRA)
6. Petra Kvitova (CZE)
7. Elina Svitolina (UKR)
8. Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
9. Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
10. Julia Gorges (GER)
11. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)
12. Darya Kasatkina (RUS)
13. Madison Keys (USA)
14. Elise Mertens (BEL)
15. Venus Williams (USA)
16. Ashleigh Barty (AUS)
17. Kiki Bertens (NED)
18. Anastasija Sevastova (LAT)
19. Naomi Osaka (JPN)
20. Mihaela Buzarnescu (ROU)

 

TORONTO, August 9, 2018 (News Wires) - Rafael Nadal was made to wait before his second-round Rogers Cup match due to several rain delays but did his part to put the schedule back on track with a speedy 6-2 6-3 win over Frenchman Benoit Paire.

World No 1 Nadal, who kicked off the evening session a little over an hour after its original start time, had some issues with his serve later in the match but still needed only 74 minutes to secure his spot in the third round.

Nadal came out firing a dazzling array of shots that had Paire racing around the blue hard court from the outset and even desperately launching his racquet on one occasion in a failed attempt at a return that gave the Spaniard a 5-2 lead.

Nadal was made to work harder in the second where the players exchanged breaks over six consecutive games before the world No 1 finally held in the ninth to seal the match when Paire sent a service return wide.

"Of course I was not at 100 percent today," Nadal, 32, told reporters. "It's true that with my serve in the second set I had some troubles but my return was working well ... it was more about the mistakes from the baseline in my opinion."

Nadal will face Stanislas Wawrinka in the round of 16 after the Swiss rallied to beat Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 1-6 7-6(2) 7-6(10).

In earlier action, a solid-serving Novak Djokovic kept his bid for a fifth Rogers Cup title alive with a 6-3 6-4 win over Canadian wildcard Peter Polansky.

The ninth-seeded Serb, competing in his first tournament since his Wimbledon triumph last month, won a dominant 83 percent of his first service points and wrapped up the day's opening match minutes before the first of several rain delays.

"I thought I served well in the moments when I really need it and I was looking for the first serve," said Djokovic.

"I thought I found pretty good accuracy and angles with the first serve, and also my second serve worked pretty well. Overall my game was so-and-so. In the moments when I probably needed to step it up, I did."

Next up for Djokovic in the round of 16 is Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas, who upset Austrian seventh seed Dominic Thiem 6-3 7-6(6).

A win for Djokovic would set up a potential quarterfinal clash with German second seed Alexander Zverev, who advanced to the third round after a 6-4 6-4 win over Bradley Klahn.

Also advancing to the third round were Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson, fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov, sixth seed Marin Cilic, eighth seed John Isner, Dutchman Robin Haase and Russian Karen Khachanov, who upset Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busto 6-4 7-6(3).

Meanwhile, Maria Sharapova fired 25 winners past hapless Russian compatriot Daria Kasatkina in a 6-0, 6-2 victory at the rain-hit Montreal WTA event, but Angelique Kerber's first match since capturing the Wimbledon title ended in a sobering defeat.

Sharapova needed just 66 minutes to see off 12th-seeded Kasatkina in an impressive and timely display of big-hitting, with the US Open getting underway in just under three weeks' time.

"I came on court having a lot of respect for my opponent because she's up and coming but has already established herself," said the 31-year-old Sharapova.

"I knew I had a tough match ahead of me. I was focused from the beginning and I finished it that way."

Kasatkina, 21, managed just three winners in the match.

World No 1 Simona Halep will now play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second match on court central followed by second seeded Caroline Wozniacki in her second round match against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Venus Williams beat world number 124 Caroline Dolehide in the first round but will have a tougher test against veteran Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

PARIS, August 6, 2018 (News Wires) - Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray climbed 457 places in the ATP world rankings on Monday, despite withdrawing from the Washington Open before his quarter-final last week.

The former world number one is now ranked 375 as he continues his comeback from an 11-month injury layoff.

Murray also pulled out of the Rogers Cup in Toronto, though, after winning his last-16 match in Washington DC at 3am.

Alexander Zverev remained as the world number three by successfully defending his Washington title with a straight-sets win over Alex De Minaur, while fourth-ranked Juan Martin del Potro was beaten in the Los Cabos final by Fabio Fognini, who jumps a spot to 14th.

ATP top 10:

1. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
2. Roger Federer (SUI)
3. Alexander Zverev (GER)
4. Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)
5. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
6. Kevin Anderson (RSA)
7. Marin Cilic (CRO)
8. Dominic Thiem (AUT)
9. John Isner (USA)
10. Novak Djokovic (SRB)

WASHINGTON D.C., August 2, 2018 (News Wires) - Three-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray collected the biggest victory of his injury comeback at the ATP and WTA Washington Open while defending champion Alexander Zverev booked a matchup with his older brother.

Murray, sidelined by a right hip injury for 11 months until returning in June, ousted fourth seed Kyle Edmund 7-6 (7/4), 1-6, 6-4 in an all-British matchup to reach the third round of the hardcourt tuneup for the US Open.

"That has been my best win since I started playing again," Murray said. "It's a great win for me. It'll give me more confidence going forward."

World No 3 Zverev defeated Tunisia's Malek Jaziri 6-2, 6-1, to send the 21-year-old German top seed into his first ATP match against 30-year-old Mischa Zverev, the 15th seed who beat American Tim Smyczek 6-2, 7-6 (9/7).

"We played the final of Wimbledon a lot of times in our backyard," Alex Zverev said. "I was 12. He was 22. I don't think I ever won. But this is on hardcourt."

On a day when Australian Nick Kyrgios withdrew with a sore left hip, Murray stole the show with an impressive victory.

"Hopefully my body will adapt to the matches and get back to what it's supposed to be doing," Murray said.

"As the weeks progress, I hope to have more days like today where the pressure and the expectations all grow."

Former world No 1 Murray, now ranked 832nd, outlasted his 18th-ranked rival, breaking on a forehand return winner to advance after two hours and 32 minutes.

"Now I have to get my body to play that way consistently and work on getting better with every match," Murray said.

The 31-year-old Scotsman, who unleashed a primal scream and flurry of fist pumps after winning his opener, wiped away sweat this time before eventually pointing to the heavens, punching the air with his right fist and pumping his fist with satisfaction.

"Much better in terms of the way I played," Murray said. "Got a lot more points off my forehand. I was able to be more aggressive. I wanted to dictate more points and be inside the baseline, especially on the main points and particularly in the third set.

"I was less nervous. I increased my intensity at the end of the second set. I thought I did that well."

Meanwhile, Johanna Konta followed up her stunning victory over Serena Williams with another brisk triumph, downing US teenager Sofia Kenin 6-1, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the WTA hardcourt tournament in San Jose.

Konta, who won her first WTA title at this event back in 2016, showed no sign of a let-down after handing 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams the most lopsided defeat of her career – 6-1, 6-0 on Tuesday.

"I kind of approached today as a separate challenge," Konta said. "I just played the challenge of the day and the opponent that I had, and really just tried to do the best that I can with that."

The tournament lost another big name when top-seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza pulled out of the tournament with a right arm injury, hours before she was to face former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka for a place in the quarters.

The Spaniard, bounced from the second round in her title defense at Wimbledon, had been hoping to rebound on the hard courts of San Jose with the US Open looming in less than a month.

"I've been feeling some pain in my right arm for a couple of days and realised I am not ready to play the match, so hopefully I can recover for the next tournaments," Muguruza said in a statement.

For Konta, however, it was full speed ahead.

The Briton needed just 70 minutes to dispatch Kenin, blasting 20 winners – including nine aces – with just 13 unforced errors.

Kenin put up a determined defense, but 19 unforced errors proved too much to overcome and she was unable to convert either of her two break point opportunities.

Konta, a former world No 4 now ranked 48th, next faces fourth-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium for a place in the semifinals.

Mertens reached the last eight with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over American wild card Ashley Kratzer.

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