Anett Kontaveit came back from a double break down in the deciding set to edge past Ekaterina Alexandrova 4-6 6-2 7-6 (8-6) at the Ostrava Open on Monday. 

Kontaveit, seeded eighth, was made to work hard for victory by her Russian opponent, who had opened a 5-2 lead in the third set before being pegged back for a deciding tie-break. 

Estonian Kontaveit saved two match points in the breaker, ultimately prevailing in two hours and 14 minutes to set up a second-round clash with Sara Sorribes Tormo after her 6-1 6-3 victory over Magda Linette. 

"I was so close to being out, so I just tried to stay in the match," Kontaveit said. "I never really gave up. I tried to be a little more aggressive when I was down. I felt maybe I'd taken a little bit off my shots.

"She was really getting on top of me so I felt I had to push back, and sometimes when you take those risks they pay off. 

"I think it was more adrenaline and instinct, especially at the end of the third. I was behind so badly that I was just trying to stay in it. I thought it was important that I never gave anything to her, she had to earn it to go in front." 

Elsewhere, Maria Sakkari set up a second-round meeting with number one seed Elina Svitolina after a 6-3 6-3 win over Kristyna Pliskova, while Barbora Krejcikova beat Tereza Martincova 7-5 6-1.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova crashed out of the US Open, while Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova advanced on Wednesday.

A former finalist in New York, Pliskova bowed out in the second round at Flushing Meadows.

It came on what was a mixed day for the seeds in the women's draw at the grand slam, which is being played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the likes of Osaka, Kvitova and Angelique Kerber progressed without dropping a set.

 

PLISKOVA CRASHES OUT

Runner-up in 2016, Pliskova fell to Caroline Garcia 6-1 7-6 (7-2) after one hour, 33 minutes.

Garcia, who reached fourth in the world rankings in 2018, produced 30 winners and just 17 unforced errors in an impressive win.

"In the second set I had set point. That was definitely one ball I could make. I had second serve on my forehand," Pliskova said.

"Maybe I should just play rally. I tried to go for it. It was a little bit windy on the court. I think she played amazing set and a half. Of course, I got my chances later in the second set. I didn't play good, so that's it."

Garcia will next face 28th seed Jennifer Brady, who thrashed CiCi Bellis 6-1 6-2 in just 51 minutes.

 

OSAKA, KVITOVA AND KERBER MOVE THROUGH

Osaka, the 2018 champion and fourth seed, was far too strong for Camila Giorgi in a 6-1 6-2 victory.

The Japanese two-time grand slam winner capitalised on a wayward display from Giorgi, who finished with 24 unforced errors.

"Just playing Camila, I haven't played her in a while, but I know that she goes for things," Osaka said. "For me it's really helpful mentally just because I know she's capable of finishing points.

"It gives me motive to play better, so she's not able to hit winners."

Awaiting Osaka in the third round is Marta Kostyuk after the Ukrainian teenager eliminated 31st seed Anastasija Sevastova.

Kvitova, the Czech sixth seed, was tested before getting past Kateryna Kozlova 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.

Meanwhile, 17th seed Kerber beat Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in an all-German affair.

 

MLADENOVIC IN EPIC COLLAPSE

Kristina Mladenovic looked set for an easy passage into the third round against Russian Varvara Gracheva.

Mladenovic led 6-1 5-1 before an incredible collapse saw her beaten in three sets.

Gracheva saved four match points in the second set before claiming a 1-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-0 victory.

Mladenovic was one of seven seeds to fall on Wednesday, with Dayana Yastremska, Alison Riske, Elena Rybakina and Marketa Vondrousova joining Pliskova and Sevastova in exiting.

Naomi Osaka overcame Anett Kontaveit to reach her first Western & Southern Open semi-final, while Maria Sakkari's memorable run came to an end.

Japanese star Osaka rallied past Kontaveit in three sets at the WTA Premier tournament in New York, where the event is being held instead of Cincinnati amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sakkari, who conquered 23-time grand slam champion, Serena Williams, in the last 16, bowed out in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

 

OSAKA OUTLASTS KONTAVEIT

Two-time grand slam champion Osaka was made to work for her 4-6 6-2 7-5 victory over 12th seed Kontaveit.

After dropping the opening set, fourth seed Osaka regrouped – reeling off nine successive games and hitting 29 winners to earn a semi-final showdown against Elise Mertens.

It is Osaka's second semi-final of the year following her final-four run at the Brisbane International prior to January's Australian Open.

Mertens – the 14th seed – awaits following her routine 6-1 6-3 victory over American qualifier Jessica Pegula.

 

SAKKARI SENT PACKING

After claiming the scalps of Coco Gauff and former world number one Williams, 13th seed Sakkari suffered a 6-4 6-3 loss to Johanna Konta.

Sakkari was unable to continue her fine run ahead of the US Open as British eighth seed Konta reached her second Premier semi-final thanks to 18 winners, four aces and three breaks of serve.

AZARENKA ROLLS ON

A two-time Australian Open champion, Victoria Azarenka is next up for Konta after the 2013 Cincinnati winner edged Ons Jabeur 7-6 (11-9) 6-2.

Azarenka emerged victorious in one hour, 44 minutes as the resurgent Belarusian moved into the Western & Southern Open semis for the first time in seven years.

Fiona Ferro overcame fourth seed Anett Kontaveit to land the Palermo Open title and climb into the world's top 50 for the first time.

In the first WTA Tour event since March, Ferro saw her hard work during lockdown pay off as she earned a 6-2 7-5 win over her Estonian opponent.

Unseeded Ferro at one stage looked set to be taken to a deciding set by Kontaveit, who served for the second set at 5-3 but was broken.

The relinquishing of that lead allowed Ferro, who will nudge up from 53 to number 44 in the WTA rankings, to seize control and she powered to victory in a match spanning an hour and 43 minutes.

The Frenchwoman had continued with a practice routine during lockdown and won two domestic tournaments while the WTA Tour remained suspended.

Victory gave 23-year-old Ferro a second WTA tournament success, after also winning on clay last year in Lausanne.

 

Anett Kontaveit will tackle Fiona Ferro in Sunday's final of the Palermo Open, the first WTA tournament since March.

Kontaveit overcame top seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4, before Ferro sank Italian title hopes in Sicily with a 2-6 6-2 7-5 win over Camila Giorgi.

Fourth seed Kontaveit is ranked seven places below world number 15 Martic and she won impressively in an hour and 29 minutes.

The Estonian will be targeting just a second career singles title and a first on clay, having previously won on grass in 2017 at Rosmalen.

She said: "I felt like I played a very good match today. I was quite aggressive, consistent, and I served especially well in the first set. It got a bit close in the end, but I played a good game at 5-4 and I'm happy to be in the final."

Martic called the match "a tough one" and spoke of missing chances to make the scoreline tighter than it became.

Ferro and Giorgi slugged it out for two hours and six minutes before their clash produced a finalist, with the home player falling agonisingly short.

World number 53 Ferro go after her second WTA title. Her first also came on clay at Lausanne in July last year.

The 2020 tennis season was suspended for almost five months amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the women's tour has returned with fans in Italy, socially-distanced crowds having been in attendance all week in Palermo

Petra Martic and Anett Kontaveit set up a Palermo Ladies Open semi-final clash with hard-fought wins on Friday.

Top seed Martic battled past qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-3) in their quarter-final.

The Croatian converted four of seven break points and saved seven of 11 to advance at the WTA International event, which marks the first tournament back after the coronavirus-enforced break.

Martic will meet Kontaveit, who beat teenage wildcard Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-1 4-6 6-1.

Unseeded pair Camila Giorgi and Fiona Ferro will meet in the other semi-final.

Giorgi got past seventh seed Dayana Yastremska 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 after saving two match points, while Ferro brushed past Italian veteran Sara Errani 6-4 6-1.

Petra Martic and Anett Kontaveit battled into the Palermo Ladies Open quarter-finals, while Dayana Yastremska cruised through.

Martic, the top seed at the WTA International event that marks the return of the Tour amid the coronavirus pandemic, overcame Liudmila Samsonova 5-7 6-4 6-2.

Croatian Martic, the world number 15, needed two and a half hours to get past the qualifier in Italy on Thursday.

She will face Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the last eight.

Kontaveit was also pushed before recording a 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory over Laura Siegemund.

Yastremska and Camila Giorgi will meet in a quarter-final after respective wins over Oceane Dodin and Kaja Juvan.

Talented Ukrainian seventh seed Yastremska was too good for Dodin 6-2 6-4, while Giorgi beat Juvan 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Petra Martic admitted to feeling more nervous than usual in her first outing at the Palermo Open, though she had little need to worry as she brushed aside Alison Van Uytvanck.

Martic – the tournament's top seed – triumphed 6-0 6-3 in just over an hour as she played for the first time since February, the WTA Tour having been suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The clay-court event in Italy has seen action resume on the Tour, though world number two Simona Halep withdrew before the event started due to travel concerns.

Her absence is a boost for Martic's hopes of success, with the Croatian showing few signs of rustiness against Van Uytvanck.

"I think I felt my nerves a little bit more, because the break was so long," Martic told media via video chat.

"It's such a big uncertainty going on the court not knowing how you're going to be.

"I played well before the break, so I was happy with the rhythm, but obviously five months off disrupts everything. Once the match started, I kind of let go and just played."

Anett Kontaveit also progressed in straight sets, the fourth seed winning the final six games to record a 6-3 6-3 victory over Patricia Maria Tig in a late finish.

However, there were some big-name casualties on Tuesday.

Marketa Vondrousova won the opening set with ease, yet the second seed slipped up after such an impressive start, serving up double faults during her 1-6 7-5 6-4 defeat to Kaja Juvan.

Elise Mertens, the fifth seed, is also out. The Belgian went down 6-4 6-1 to Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Simona Halep said she is "more confident" thanks to the experience of winning two grand slams as the in-form former world number one looks to add the Australian Open title to her growing collection.    

Halep is flying high in Melbourne following Wednesday's quarter-final demolition of Anett Kontaveit - the former French Open and Wimbledon winner claiming a 6-1 6-1 victory in just 53 minutes.

Yet to drop a set at Melbourne Park, Halep was beaten in the 2018 Australian Open final against Caroline Wozniacki but the Romanian star is on track to go one step further this year.

Halep – who ended her wait for a maiden major at the 2018 French Open following three losing slam finals – was asked if it feels easier to win now and the fourth seed told reporters: "It's different in my mind. It's not easier at all. 

"You still feel the pressure. You still feel the heaviness of this tournament.

"I just feel more confident and I feel like I'm able to do it. It's just a feeling that you don't see this trophy is impossible anymore. This is what I'm feeling about the grand slams now."

Halep added: "Any grand slam, it's a priority. I will not just choose one. But, of course, it's going to be great if I will be able to win one on hard court."

It was a devastating display from Halep on Rod Laver Arena, where the fourth seed reeled off 11 consecutive games to blitz her Estonian opponent under the bright Melbourne sun.

Kontaveit was powerless to stop the onslaught as Halep looks ahead to a semi-final against fellow two-time slam champion and former world number one, Garbine Muguruza.

"Perfection doesn't exist, but I'm very happy with the way I played. I felt great on court," Halep said. "I was moving great. I felt the ball, like, really, really good. It was a great match."

Simona Halep raced through to her second Australian Open semi-final after mercilessly blitzing Anett Kontaveit in straight sets on Wednesday.

Former world number one Halep dismantled 28th seed Kontaveit 6-1 6-1 in just 53 minutes on Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park.

A two-time grand slam champion, Halep barely raised a sweat as the fourth seed reeled off 11 consecutive games before the helpless Kontaveit finally halted the slide at 5-0 in the second set, but it was too little too late.

Halep – the 2018 runner-up – will face either Garbine Muguruza or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in her second Australian Open final.

Kontaveit was attempting to become the first Estonian to reach a slam semi-final after beating Astra Sharma, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Belinda Bencic and Iga Swiatek en route to the final eight.

But she was no match for Romanian star Halep, who is yet to drop a set at this year's major in Melbourne.

A battle from the baseline, Kontaveit held her own early but she was quickly put to the sword as Halep broke in the third game and never looked back.

Kontaveit, who initially dug herself out of a 0-40 hole in the fifth game as Halep broke at the fifth opportunity, faded quickly without a trace.

Halep continued where she left off in the second set, racing out to a devastating 5-0 lead in front of a stunned crowd.

Kontaveit stopped the rot to hold serve, though Halep – who has never dropped a set against the Estonian – served out the second set in just 24 minutes.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Halep [4] bt Kontaveit [28] 6-1 6-1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
Halep – 12/10
Kontaveit – 15/15

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
Halep – 5/1
Kontaveit – 0/0

BREAK POINTS WON  
Halep – 5/11
Kontaveit – 0/1

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Halep – 78
Kontaveit – 66

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Halep – 78/44
Kontaveit – 48/44

TOTAL POINTS  
Halep – 54
Kontaveit – 34

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