Veronika Kudermetova missed out on her first WTA singles final as there was double joy for the home fans at the Japan Women's Open.

Second seed Kudermetova has enjoyed an impressive 2019 campaign, the 22-year-old winning a 125k series event in Guadalajara in March and beating Caroline Wozniacki en route to the third round at the French Open before reaching the semi-finals in 's-Hertogenbosch.

However, a final at tour level continues to elude her, with the Russian denied a place in the Hiroshima showpiece by Misaki Doi, who claimed a 6-4 6-3 victory in their last-four clash.

Doi will face compatriot Nao Hibino in an all-Japanese final. Hibino came from a set down to defeat Mihaela Buzarnescu 4-6 6-0 6-3.

The semi-finals at the Jiangxi Open in Nanchang went with the form book.

Fourth seed Elena Rybakina won a three-setter with Peng Shuai 6-1 3-6 6-2 and will meet fifth seed Rebecca Peterson in the final after the Swede's 6-3 6-1 victory over Nina Stojanovic.

Karolina Pliskova and Petra Martic both wasted little time in recording convincing wins to make it through to the Zhengzhou Open final.

Top seed Pliskova needed just 68 minutes to see off Ajla Tomljanovic, winning 93 per cent of the points on her first serve as she coasted to a 6-3 6-2 triumph.

The Czech's smooth progress came after she had to play twice on Friday following rain, recording wins over Polona Hercog and then Sofia Kenin.

The 27-year-old, ranked two in the world, will be aiming to win a fourth title in 2019, following on from triumphs in Brisbane, Rome and Eastbourne. She was also a beaten finalist in Miami.

Standing in her way will be Martic, who was fractionally quicker in winning her semi-final against Kristina Mladenovic. The seventh seed wrapped up a 6-0 6-3 result in 67 minutes.

She was aided by five double faults from Mladenovic in a lopsided first set, though the Frenchwoman improved in the second, coming close to a break in a lengthy seventh game.

However, Martic – who won her maiden WTA Tour title in Istanbul earlier this year – held under pressure before breaking emphatically in the next, allowing her to serve out for the match.

Home favourites Misaki Doi and Nao Hibino moved into the Japan Women's Open final on Saturday.

For the first time since it was founded in 2009, the WTA Tour event will have a Japanese champion after Doi and Hibino got through their semi-finals matches.

Doi upset second seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-4 6-3 to set up a meeting with doubles partner Hibino.

The 28-year-old Doi managed to take her chances, converting three of six break points as Kudermetova capitalised on just one of four.

Hibino overcame Mihaela Buzarnescu 4-6 6-0 6-3 to reach her fifth WTA Tour final.

It will also be the first all-Japanese WTA singles final since 1997, when Naoko Sawamatsu beat Yuka Yoshida in Jakarta.

Doi and Hibino have also reached the doubles final in Hiroshima, with Christina McHale and Valeria Savinykh awaiting them in that decider.

A new Japan Women's Open champion will be crowned this weekend after home contender Nao Hibino dethroned Hsieh Su-wei to reach the semi-finals.

World number 146 Hibino defeated the top seed 6-4 6-3 on Friday and will face Mihaela Buzarnescu in the last four in Hiroshima.

The unseeded Hibino will play in her first Tour-level semi-final for almost two years after hitting 25 winners and breaking five times to advance in straight sets.

Romanian Buzarnescu stayed in the hunt for the title with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Alison Van Uytvanck.

Veronika Kudermetova, the second seed, beat Laura Siegemund 6-3 4-6 6-2 and will take on Misaki Doi, a 7-5 6-1 winner against Sara Sorribes Tormo.

Two-time champion Peng Shuai moved into the semi-finals of the Jiangxi Open with a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) defeat of Zhu Lin.

Peng will do battle with Elena Rybakina after she went through at the expense of Viktorija Golubic in Nanchang, while Rebecca Peterson and Nina Stojanovic progressed by seeing off Magda Linette and Kateryna Kozlova respectively.

Karolina Pliskova doubled up to reach the semi-finals of the Zhengzhou Open and Kristina Mladenovic claimed the scalp of Elina Svitolina on Friday.

The top seed's last 16 match with Polona Hercog was finely poised when rain forced its suspension on Thursday, with Pliskova trailing 5-2 in the second set having taken the first.

However, Pliskova rattled off five straight games to win 6-3 7-5 to progress to a quarter-final with Sofia Kenin, which she subsequently came through in three sets 6-4 4-6 6-1.

"To play two matches in a day, it's never easy, but in the first one, I was lucky enough to not go to a third set, just finished quickly and saved some power for the next one," Pliskova said.

"I think I played good tennis in both matches. I was serving well, a lot of aces, which always helps, and there's a lot of positive things for tomorrow."

Pliskova will face Ajla Tomljanovic in the last four, the Australian another who had to play twice in the same day after 16 matches were postponed due to inclement weather 24 hours earlier.

Tomljanovic saw off Kiki Bertens in straight sets but had a more complicated passage through to the final four against Zheng Saisai.

After two hours and 35 minutes Tomljanovic won 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 6-4, moving a victory away from her fifth WTA final, having lost all of her previous four.

Kristina Mladenovic ousted second seed and US Open semi-finalist Svitolina, winning 6-4 4-6 6-3 to set up a showdown with Petra Martic, who ousted Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 5-7 6-4.

US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has withdrawn from the Tokyo Open due to a right leg injury.

Andreescu claimed her maiden grand slam title with a victory over Serena Williams last Saturday.

The teenager will not feature in Osaka next week, though, as her exploits at Flushing Meadows have taken a toll.

"I'm sorry to have to miss The Toray Pan Pacific Open this year," the 19-year-old said. "I know It's the biggest women’s tennis event in Japan and one that I look forward to playing in in the future. Hope to see you all soon!"

Belinda Bencic also misses out following her run to the last four in New York - where she was beaten by Andreescu - due to a foot injury.

French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova is another player who will start the Asian swing later than planned, as she is struggling with a wrist injury.

The Hong Kong Open, a WTA Tour event that was due to begin on October 5, has been postponed because of ongoing protests in the region.

An extradition bill has led to months of civil unrest in Hong Kong and protests have continued despite the proposed legislation being withdrawn.

The tennis event was scheduled to be held in Victoria Park, which has become a meeting point for anti-government marches.

A statement on the tournament's website read: "In light of the present situation, Hong Kong Tennis Association and the WTA are announcing a postponement of the 2019 Hong Kong Tennis Open. The event will no longer take place during 5-13 October.

"The Open is the flagship event on our annual calendar and one of the most popular international sporting events in the city, attracting thousands of local fans and overseas travellers every year.

"As the winner of the WTA International event of the year award in 2018, we strive to maintain a high standard of the event for all participants, players and the fans in particular.

"However, after extensive discussions with our key stakeholders, we conclude that a smooth running of the tournament can be better assured at a later time.

"The event organisers and WTA are in active discussion on identifying an alternate week for the hosting of the event. Further announcement will be made in due course."

The Hong Kong Open returned to the WTA calendar in 2014 after a 20-year absence.

Naomi Osaka has split from coach Jermaine Jenkins following her unsuccessful US Open defence.

Jenkins and Osaka teamed up in February after the Japanese parted ways with Sascha Bajin in the wake of her Australian Open success.

The two-time major champion has not won another title since her triumph at Melbourne Park and a fourth-round loss to Belinda Bencic at the US Open represented her next best performance at a grand slam this year.

"I'm super grateful for the time we spent together and the things I learned on and off court but I feel like now is a[n] appropriate time for a change," Osaka wrote on Twitter.

"[I] appreciate you, forever warmed by you … thank you for everything, it was a blast."

The 21-year-old Osaka will return to action at the Pan Pacific Open in Osaka next week.

Kim Clijsters has announced plans for a remarkable return to the WTA Tour after a seven-year absence.

The former world number one - a four-time major champion - has not played since the 2012 US Open, having called time on her career for a second time with 41 singles titles.

But Clijsters, 36, is now aiming to return in 2020, potentially competing again with Serena and Venus Williams - the only active players who can match her tally of Tour honours.

Inspired by the Belgian's decision, we look at some other notable comebacks in women's tennis.

 

Martina Navratilova

While Navratilova never again hit the heights that saw her claim 18 singles majors before her initial retirement, her 2000 return - 27 years on from her Tour debut - was undoubtedly a success.

Navratilova would not play singles at a grand slam until 2004 - winning in the first round at Wimbledon aged 47 - but spent the second part of her career mopping up numerous doubles prizes, finally bowing out in 2006 having won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at all four majors for a total of 59 championships. Not bad.

Margaret Court

The only player with more grand slam titles across all disciplines than Navratilova is Court, although that would not have been the case had she stayed retired after Wimbledon in 1966, then playing as Margaret Smith.

She married Barry Court the following year, took his name on her return to tennis in 1968 and then set about achieving complete domination again in the new Open Era. She added 11 more majors, winning the Grand Slam in 1970, and finished on a still unmatched 24, retiring in 1977 due to the pregnancy with her fourth child.

 

Jennifer Capriati

Capriati's lay-off from tennis was only brief following the 1993 US Open as she struggled with the pressure of the sport, yet she had a long, long route back to the top, having been a child star and won the Olympics in 1992.

Her hard work paid off eventually, though, and the American won the Australian Open and French Open titles in 2001 and became world number one, defending her Melbourne title the following year. Having finally got close to fulfilling her immense potential, Capriati's final retirement came following an injury-plagued 2004 season.

Kim Clijsters

Clijsters need look no further than the mirror for inspiration when she steps back out onto the court next year, having already completed one hugely successful return.

She retired aged just 23 in 2007, citing a desire for "health and private happiness", but was back two years later. Clijsters made her grand slam singles comeback at the US Open and won her second title, before defending her crown for a third the following year. She backed that up at the 2011 Australian Open before apparently calling it quits for good the next year.

But now she is back again...

Simona Halep has announced Darren Cahill will return to coach the Wimbledon champion for the 2020 season.

Cahill split with Halep last November to take a one-year coaching hiatus, enabling him to spend more time with his family in Australia.

Two-time major winner Halep on Thursday revealed that long-time coach Cahill will be back in her corner next year.

The Romanian posted on social media: "I have some exciting news to share with you. After a year without him on my team, I'm happy to announce that Darren will be back by my side next season."

Halep added: "So, D, last time I killed you, and I'm playing to kill you again. I can't wait to finish what we started. See you soon!"

Former world number one Halep had a short spell working with Thierry van Cleemput after Cahill opted to take a break.

Halep won her first major title at the French Open last year and doubled her tally at the All England Club in July.

 

 

There was no play at the Zhengzhou Open on Thursday as the rain that derailed Wednesday's late fixtures continued.

Some 16 matches, including the conclusion of top seed Karolina Pliskova's tie with Polona Hercog, were scheduled but they have all been pushed back to Friday.

Pliskova will restart play with a one-set lead over Hercog, who fought back to lead 5-2 in the second before the weather intervened.

Third seed Kiki Bertens was due to face Ajla Tomlkanovic, while world number three Elina Svitolina - who celebrated her 25th birthday on Thursday - also had her game moved back.

 

Kim Clijsters is planning a comeback following a seven-year absence from the WTA Tour, the former world number one has announced.

Clijsters, 36, retired after the 2012 US Open, where she was beaten in the second round by British player Laura Robson.

But the four-time grand slam winner has now announced a surprising return and is training with a view to playing again in 2020.

The Belgian told the WTA Insider Podcast: "I don't really feel like I want to prove something. I think for me it's the challenge.

"I have friends who would say, 'I want to run the New York Marathon before I turn 50'. For me, I still love to play tennis.

"The love for the sport is obviously still there. But the question still is, am I capable of bringing it to a level where I would like it to be at and where I want it to be at before I want to play at a high level of one of the best women's sports in the world?

"I don't feel like I need to prove anything, but I want to challenge myself and I want to be strong again. This is my marathon. This is where I'm saying, 'OK, let's try this'."

Clijsters - now a mother of three - made her WTA debut at the age of 15 in 1999, and was 29 when she retired.

She spent 19 weeks at world number one, and claimed her first grand slam title at Flushing Meadows in 2005.

After giving birth to daughter Jada, Clijsters returned to win the US Open again in 2009 and 2010, before adding the 2011 Australian Open.

With 41 singles titles, Clijsters is beaten only in the trophy count by Serena Williams and Venus Williams among players active on tour, while her haul is the 14th highest in the Open era.

Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wild cards at WTA tournaments because of her former world number one status, but she will have to play three tournaments or earn 10 points to re-establish a ranking.

Peng Shuai recorded her best win of 2019 as she defeated Kristyna Pliskova in three sets at the Jiangxi Open on Friday.

The former world number 14, who had not beaten a player ranked in the top 100 this year, saw off 81st-ranked Pliskova 6-3 0-6 6-4 after a gruelling one hour and 49 minutes in humid conditions.

Pliskova recovered from losing the first set to produce a dominant display in the second, reeling off 20 winners in six quick-fire games to seize the initiative in the contest.

However, Peng broke to move 5-4 ahead in the third and booked her place in the last eight with a forehand winner.

Peng will face compatriot Zhu Lin in the quarter-finals, the latter likely to be feeling the fresher of the two after top seed Zhang Shuai retired ill from their last-16 match at 6-0 1-0 down after only 39 minutes.

Fourth seed Elena Rybakina progressed with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 defeat of Xinyu Wang, while Nina Stojanovic beat former US Open champion Sam Stosur 6-4 6-3.

At the Hana-cupid Open, Alison van Uytvanck won a battle of the Belgians against Kirsten Flipkens to reach the quarter-finals.

Van Uytvanck led by a set and a break but eventually needed one hour and 55 minutes to take a 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory and secure a meeting with Mihaela Buzarnescu, who beat Kurumi Nara in straight sets.

Seventh seed Sara Sorribes Tormo made light work of Varvara Flink, winning 6-3 6-1, while Misaki Doi gave the home fans something to cheer with a 6-1 1-6 6-3 defeat of Australia's Zoe Hives.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova was rescued by the rain at the Zhengzhou Open as Polona Hercog's fightback was brought to a halt.

Pliskova started brightly to take the first set 6-3 but the world number two was serving to stay in the second at 5-2 down when the weather intervened, as it had several times during the day.

The duo will resume on Thursday at the WTA Premier event to settle who will make it through to the last eight.

Sofia Kenin awaits the winner after the sixth seed defeated Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2.

Petra Martic, seeded seventh, also progressed but had to battle back from a set down to overcome Fiona Ferro 3-6 6-1 6-2.

There was one seed who suffered a loss, though, with Caroline Garcia beaten 7-5 6-2 at the hands of Kristina Mladenovic.

On September 11 1999, a rising star of tennis clinched her first grand slam title and, 20 years later, Serena Williams is still going strong.

Williams, aged 17, beat Martina Hingis 6-3 7-6 (7-4) in the US Open final at Flushing Meadows to make a major breakthrough.

Two decades and 23 grand slam titles have passed since then, yet Williams - one triumph shy of equalling Margaret Court's overall major record hall - is still at the pinnacle of the sport.

The American reached her second slam final of 2019 at Flushing Meadows last week, though it ended in defeat to new kid on the block Bianca Andreescu, who also beat Williams in the Rogers Cup final in August – albeit with her opponent retiring at 3-1 down.

It means Williams has lost her last four appearances in grand slam finals since winning the Australian Open in January 2017, but her ever enduring talent means a record-equalling success should never be discounted.

Here are some of the astonishing numbers of Williams' career to date.

72 - Williams has won 72 WTA singles titles so far. Her first was in Paris in 1999, with her most recent coming in Melbourne in 2017.

33 - The 37-year-old has reached an incredible 33 grand slam singles finals, losing just 10 of those.

5 - Williams has finished the year ranked as world number one five times, in 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

39 - Including 14 in doubles and two in mixed doubles, Williams has won 39 major titles - that is a joint-third total since the Open Era began.

1 - Williams is the only player, male or female, to have completed a Golden Slam in both singles and doubles competitions. As well as triumphing at every slam and the Olympics as a singles competitor, Serena has achieved the same feat alongside sister Venus in doubles.

7 - Williams has seven titles at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, with six more at the US Open, and three at Roland Garros.

319 - Having spent 319 weeks as world number one, Williams is third behind Martina Navratilova (332) and Steffi Graf (377).

2 - She has held all four grand slam trophies on two occasions - in 2002-03 and 2014-15.

97 - In total, Williams has appeared in 97 singles finals on the WTA circuit.

186 - Williams spent 186 weeks as world number one between February 2013 and September 2016, equal with Graf's record from August 1987 to March 1991.

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