Roger Federer came out on top in a gripping battle with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach the quarter-finals of the Halle Open on Thursday.

Top seed Federer, a nine-time winner of the grass-court tournament in Germany, was made to work for a 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-5 victory.

Tsonga had won his previous two matches with Federer - his most recent success coming in Monte Carlo three years ago - and threatened a repeat before suffering a second-round loss.

Frenchman Tsonga, a wildcard entry into the event, and Federer both played with aggression but it was the 20-time grand slam champion who had the edge.

Tsonga fought back from 3-1 down in the second set to go the distance, but Federer claimed the only break of the decider to ensure he will face Roberto Bautista Agut in what will be his 17th quarter-final in as many appearances in Halle.

Alexander Zverev progressed with a 6-3 7-5 defeat of Steve Johnson and will now come up against David Goffin.

Second seed Zverev withdrew from the doubles due to a swollen knee, but struck 27 winners to reach his fifth quarter-final of the season.

The in-form Matteo Berrettini won an all-Italian encounter with Andreas Seppi, while Bautista Agut accounted for Richard Gasquet 6-1 6-4.

Angelique Kerber's preparations for her Wimbledon title defence were boosted as she eased past the returning Maria Sharapova in clinical fashion at the Mallorca Open.

Top seed Kerber was taken to three sets by Ysaline Bonaventure in her first grass-court match of 2019, but she was a much more comfortable winner on Thursday against a rival playing her first tournament since January.

Sharapova, whose lengthy absence had been due to a shoulder injury, simply made too many errors, enabling the consistent Kerber to triumph 6-2 6-3.

In an on-court interview, the German said: "It's always tough to play against Maria, especially in the second round.

"If you have a lot of wins before Wimbledon, this is the goal. It gives me a little bit more confidence for the next matches and the next days before I go to London."

Kerber will take on sixth seed Caroline Garcia in the quarter-finals. Garcia needed three sets to overcome Spanish wildcard Paula Badosa.

French Open semi-finalist Amanda Anisimova, 17, faces an intriguing last-eight tie against Belinda Bencic, another player to have enjoyed notable success as a teenager.

Anisimova defeated Alize Cornet 6-2 6-4, while Bencic - who reached the 2014 US Open quarter-finals at the age of 17 - was 5-7 6-3 3-1 up on Shelby Rogers when the American was forced to retire.

 

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty is three victories away from becoming the first Australian woman since 1976 to top the singles rankings.

The dynamic 23-year-old landed her first grand slam title at Roland Garros earlier this month, and world number one Naomi Osaka's early exit from the Birmingham Classic has opened the door for Barty to nudge above the Japanese player.

Osaka crashed out in the last 16 on Thursday when she lost 6-2 6-3 to Kazakhstan's world number 43 Yulia Putintseva, suffering a blow to her preparations for Wimbledon on the Edgbaston grass.

Second seed Barty sailed through to the quarter-finals as a 6-3 6-1 winner against American Jennifer Brady but must capture the title on Sunday to depose Osaka.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley was the first Australian to reach number one on the WTA list, taking top spot away from Chris Evert for a fortnight in 1976, just six months after the computerised ranking system was introduced to the tour.

Venus Williams is no stranger to the summit of the rankings and the 39-year-old American remains a force to be reckoned with, particularly on grass.

The five-time Wimbledon champion is making her debut at this tournament and set up a quarter-final against Barty by beating China's Qiang Wang 6-3 6-2.

Germany's Julia Goerges, the eighth seed and a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year, was a 6-4 6-3 winner against Russian Evgeniya Rodina.

French Open champion Ashleigh Barty can become world number one for the first time after rival Naomi Osaka suffered an early setback on grass.

The likelihood of Australian Barty jumping to the top spot grew on Thursday when WTA rankings leader Osaka was beaten in the last 16 of the Birmingham Classic.

Osaka slipped to a 6-2 6-3 defeat against Kazakhstan's world number 43 Yulia Putintseva, dealing a blow to her preparations for Wimbledon.

Second seed Barty went safely through to the quarter-finals as a 6-3 6-1 winner against American Jennifer Brady but must capture the title on Sunday to depose Osaka.

Juan Martin del Potro will undergo surgery after suffering another fracture of his right patella.

The luckless Argentine fractured the same knee last October and only returned to the ATP Tour in May after being sidelined for almost three months.

Del Potro underwent regenerative knee treatment during his absence earlier this year but suffered another cruel blow during his first-round win over Denis Shapovalov at the Queen's Club Championships on Wednesday.

The 2009 US Open champion went for a scan after slipping during the second set in London and it was confirmed on Thursday that he faces another lay-off just over a week before Wimbledon gets under way.

Del Potro's spokesman, Jorge Viale, tweeted: "The medical studies done last night in a clinic in London show that Juan Martin del Potro has again suffered a fracture in the right patella.

"After consultation with his doctor, Angel Cotorro, it has been determined that it will require surgery. This will take place in the next couple of days with a date and location to be determined."

The 30-year-old has been blighted by injuries in his career, undergoing multiple wrist surgeries before returning to become a force once again.

Rafael Nadal will get some grass court practice ahead of Wimbledon at the Aspall Tennis Classic at The Hurlingham Club next week.

The world number two once again decided to forego any competitive preparation for the third grand slam of the year after chalking up his 12th French Open title at Roland Garros earlier this month.

But Nadal will return to Hurlingham, where he has featured in each of the past two years, to contest exhibition matches next Wednesday and Friday.

Last year's Wimbledon runner-up Kevin Anderson, Nick Kyrgios, Marin Cilic and Lucas Pouille are among the other major names who will take part.

"I am always happy to play at The Hurlingham Club and be close to UK tennis fans," Nadal said in a statement.

"It is a prestigious ground in one of the best settings in the UK, making it the perfect way to warm up for Wimbledon."

The 33-year-old is a two-time Wimbledon winner, with his 2008 and 2010 triumphs contributing to an overall career haul of 18 grand slams.

Juan Martin del Potro withdrew from the Queen's Club Championships due to a knee injury suffered in his first-round win over Denis Shapovalov.

The 2009 US Open champion spent almost three months out of action with a knee problem before returning in May, but suffered more misfortune in London on Wednesday.

Del Potro slipped in the second set on another rain-affected day of the tournament and although he went on to win 7-5 6-4, the former world number three later pulled out of his first event of the grass-court season less than two weeks before Wimbledon starts.

The luckless Argentine was left with a swollen right knee and is taking no chances after missing so much time in an injury-plagued career.

Feliciano Lopez receives a walkover into the quarter-finals in the absence of Del Potro.

Lopez strongly denied "false accusations" made in reports of an alleged match-fixing scandal at Wimbledon two years ago after he beat Marton Fucsovics 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-4 in his opening match at Queen's - a day before he is due to play doubles with the returning Andy Murray.

Stefanos Tsitsipas was leading Kyle Edmund 6-3 3-3 when play was suspended due to the miserable weather and fading light.

Stan Wawrinka saw off Dan Evans 6-3 6-4, while Milos Raonic, Lucas Pouille, Jeremy Chardy and Aljaz Bedene also advanced a day after play was washed out.

The matches between Nick Kyrgios and Roberto Carballes Baena and Grigor Dimitrov and Felix Auger-Aliassime were postponed for the day.

Feliciano Lopez has strongly denied "false accusations" made in reports of an alleged match-fixing scandal at Wimbledon and says he has never been under investigation.

Lopez and Marc Lopez were named in the Spanish media as being under suspicion over bets that were claimed to have been made on a doubles match they lost at the All England Club two years ago.

The Spaniard has firmly denied any wrongdoing as he prepares to play doubles with the returning Andy Murray at the Queen's Club Championships.

Lopez said in a statement he read out at a press conference at Queen's on Wednesday: "‘Following reports in media that mentioned my name and my partner, Marc Lopez, I feel it is still important to come to you and absolutely deny any link with events described in relation to the allegations of match fixing.

"Unfortunately, all tennis players are public figures and exposed to having our good name used beyond our control. For that reason, I will do everything within my power to defend myself against any such false accusations.

"Marc and I had immediately contacted the TIU [Tennis Integrity Unit] to fully cooperate, and they confirmed that there had been no investigation about that match at Wimbledon 2017.

"We have full faith in the TIU and the role they play protecting our sport. ‘I have always believed in the values of fair play.

"It has been the case during my long career and I stand for the integrity of the game, which is so important. I am now focused on giving my best, as always, and play with 100 per cent focus at Queen’s."

Lopez added: "A long time ago, I think it was British tabloid or someone, they came out with a story about the match of [Jarkko] Nieminen and me.

"That was probably 15 or 16 years ago. I saw the article. I went to my lawyers. They had to publish another article saying that I was not involved in any match fixing at that time.

"That was a match that I retired after losing the first set in Long Island. That was probably 15 or 16 years ago. Long time, long time ago. It's the same thing.

"These gamblers, they know, they have information that you maybe are not 100 per cent or that you have an issue, an injury, whatever, and they put a lot of money on your name. That's an issue that we have to solve."

Defending champion Borna Coric survived a major scare in the second round of the Halle Open.

The Croatian fourth seed won 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 7-6 (7-4) against Portuguese qualifier Joao Sousa to secure a quarter-final place.

Coric, who caused a major upset when beating Roger Federer in last year's final of this grass-court event, will next play Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, a 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 winner against Ukrainian qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky.

Belgian David Goffin fended off Moldovan Radu Albot 4-6 6-4 6-3, and on a day of tight matches, Russian third seed Karen Khachanov defeated Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 3-6 6-4.

Swiss top seed Federer resumes his Halle campaign on Thursday with a tricky assignment against Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Anastasija Sevastova made light work of Ajla Tomljanovic to set up a Mallorca Open quarter-final against Yafan Wang.

Second-seed Sevastova, Mallorca Open champion in 2017, was in fine form on Wednesday, easily seeing off Tomljanovic 6-2 6-1.

The world number 12 struck nine winners and made just five unforced errors without facing a single break point, such was her superiority, and she improved her career record at the grass-court event to 15 wins from 17 matches.

Tomljanovic looked sharp at times but made 19 unforced errors to allow Sevastova to take control and ease into the final eight.

Wang will be Sevastova's opponent in the next round, after she overcame Alison van Uytvanck in straight sets 7-6(7-3) 6-3.

Meanwhile, 2018 semi-finalist Samantha Stosur bowed out to number four seed Elise Mertens, who won 6-3 6-3.

Mertens will face seventh seed Sofia Kenin in the quarter-finals, who claimed her spot after Ons Jabeur retired during their match while trailing 6-2 2-0.

Top seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber is in action on Thursday, facing Maria Sharapova.

The unfortunate Juan Martin del Potro has suffered another injury setback less than a fortnight before Wimbledon.

Del Potro hurt his knee when slipping during a first-round victory over Denis Shapovalov at the Queen's Club Championships on Wednesday.

The 2009 US Open champion only returned to the ATP Tour at the Madrid Open in May after an absence of almost three months, during which time he underwent new regenerative knee treatment.

Del Potro could face another lay-off after the injury-plagued Argentine's fall on a rain-affected day of his first grass-court tournament of the season in London.

Jorge Viale, the former world number three's spokesman, tweeted: "Juan Martin del Potro finished his first-round match at Queen's with pain and swelling in his right knee after slipping close to the net in the eighth game of the second set.

"In the next few hours, medical studies will be carried out to determine the degree of the injury. We will report the results in a timely manner."

World number one Naomi Osaka required three sets to seal her place in the second round of the Birmingham Classic on a rain-hit day in Edgbaston.

The top seed edged past Greece's Maria Sakkari 6-1 4-6 6-3 to set a duel with Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, who defeated British wildcard Harriet Dart.

"I feel, like, every day that I play on grass of course I'm going to learn how to play better, but for now I'm just really happy I was able to win that match," said Osaka.

"I think it's really important for me. I'm only playing this tournament before Wimbledon, so I would love to get a lot of matches in and sort of build my confidence up."

Osaka's rival for the number one ranking, Ashleigh Barty, was among a group of players including Venus Williams who saw their matches postponed until Wednesday.

There were wins for eighth seed Julia Goerges and 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, who now meets British number one Johanna Konta.

One other intriguing contest looks set to be that of the Pliskova twin sisters, Karolina and Kristyna, in what will be their ninth head-to-head.

 

Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber battled through her opening match at the Mallorca Open to set up a clash with Maria Sharapova.

Kerber was worked hard by Ysaline Bonaventure and let a lead slip in the second set before coming from behind in the third, finally winning 7-5 4-6 6-2.

It was not an entirely convincing return to the grass courts and Kerber will face another tough test against Sharapova in the next round.

The five-time grand slam champion was playing for the first time since January when she took on Viktoria Kuzmova.

Sharapova also found the first set tough work but then took complete control, securing a comprehensive 7-6 (10-8) 6-0 triumph.

Meanwhile, Anastasija Sevastova, a finalist in Mallorca in each of the tournament's three years, winning in 2017, advanced with relative ease.

She saw off Varvara Lepchenko in straight sets.

Caroline Garcia built on her Nottingham Open title last week by rallying past Victoria Azarenka 1-6 6-4 7-5, while Amanda Anisimova - the teenage French Open semi-finalist - continued her good form with a win.

Alize Cornet, Sam Stosur, Ons Jabeur, Paula Badosa and Shelby Rogers all also won.

Roger Federer's return to the grass courts began with a routine 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 win over John Millman in his Halle Open opener.

Millman had beaten Federer at the US Open last year, yet the 20-time grand slam champion - bidding for a 10th title in Halle - controlled their clash on Tuesday.

Australian Millman dug in early on and reached a tie-break without facing a single break point, instead putting Federer under a little pressure in front of a nervy crowd.

But the Swiss great seized a pair of mini-breaks in succession and Millman's hard work was undone.

And with a set in hand, Federer was comfortable from there, holding with speed and confidence and leading after dictating a rally on break point as Millman lobbed wide.

The 37-year-old served out an ultimately straightforward victory despite Millman threatening a break for the first time with a pinpoint passing forehand.

Defending champion Borna Coric, who defeated Federer in the final 12 months ago, also advanced with a straight-sets win over Jaume Munar.

Meanwhile, Matteo Berrettini built on his Stuttgart Open title from last week with another impressive win over sixth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Guido Pella was another seed to fall against David Goffin, but Roberto Bautista Agut got through.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated compatriot Benoit Paire, joining Richard Gasquet, Jan-Lennard Struff, Sergiy Stakhovsky and Andreas Seppi in the last 16.

At the Queen's Club Championships, rain meant there was no play on Tuesday.

Naomi Osaka hopes a sense of freedom will pay dividends as she gets her grass court season underway in the Birmingham Classic on Tuesday.

Reigning US Open and Australian Open champion Osaka faces the dangerous world number 33 Maria Sakkari in her opening match of the tournament.

The 21-year-old's quest for a third consecutive major ended in the third round at the French Open where she fell in straight sets to Katerina Siniakova, having come from a set down to overcome Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Victoria Azarenka in the earlier rounds at Roland Garros.

Nevertheless, Osaka is keen to take the positives from a clay campaign that saw her reach the quarter-finals in Madrid and Rome, with improving on her previous best of round three at Wimbledon something of a lower bar than she has been aiming for of late.

"It's the best clay court season I've ever had, if I take aside the disappointing French," Osaka told WTA.com. "But it's not like I lost in the first round and I kind of want to take that positively.

"I just want to enjoy myself. Maybe during the clay season I was thinking too much about my performance or results. Now I feel free.

"People are saying I could do really well here and that's sort of what I'm aiming for but I think I have to learn how to get comfortable [on grass].

"I don't think there's really a blueprint you can look at because not everyone's games or mentalities are the same.

"Playing at Wimbledon for me is definitely a memory because it's something you've watched on TV as a kid and when you go there it's just so full of tradition.

"I just remember losing to people who go to finals. Hopefully this time I'll be the person who goes to the finals."

Last year, Osaka lost to eventual winner Angelique Kerber at SW19, while Venus Williams beat her on the way to the final in 2017.

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