Maria Sakkari claimed the scalp of top seed Elina Svitolina to reach the quarter-finals of the Ostrava Open on Wednesday.

Sakkari beat world number five Svitolina 6-3 6-3 to progress to the last eight of a WTA Premier event for the third time this season.

Unseeded Greek Sakkari struck 32 winners and returned superbly, winning all but eight of 29 points on Svitolina's second serve.

The 23rd-ranked Sakkari will face either wildcard Jelana Ostapenko or Ons Jabeur for a place in the semi-finals.

Ostapenko knocked out fifth seed Petra Martic, the 2017 French Open champion easing to a 6-3 6-1 victory.

Martic had won their previous two meetings, but the Croatian was beaten in just 57 minutes at the indoor hard-court event. 

Anett Kontaveit was another seed to fall, Sara Sorribes Tormo reaching a maiden Premier-level quarter-final at the expense of the Estonian with a 6-1 6-4 success.

Victoria Azarenka is also two wins away from the final, coming from a set down to see off Barbora Krejcikova 2-6 6-2 6-1, and will now face Karolina Muchova or Elise Mertens, who got past Amanda Anisimova in straight sets.

Petra Kvitova saw off the talented Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez to reach her first French Open fourth-round match since 2015, while fourth seed Sofia Kenin was in fine form against Irina Bara.

Kvitova, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros in 2012, had only gone as far as the third round in Paris in the previous four years and did not compete in the competition in 2019.

But she showed fight and gusto to battle back from a major deficit in the first set and eventually see off Fernandez, who only turned 18 last month.

Kenin was given a lot less to worry about against her Romanian opponent, barely breaking a sweat as she swept past Bara with consummate ease and brought out the party tricks.

KVITOVA RISES TO THE CHALLENGE

A major shock appeared to be on the cards for Fernandez for a while in this contest, as the youngster found herself 5-1 to the good in the opening set.

She even had two set points, but Fernandez – the junior champion at Roland Garros just last year – could not quite hold her nerve.

Kvitova rattled off nine games in succession to impressively rise to the occasion, showing immense willpower and focus to recover from such a deficit and seal the first set.

After consecutive breaks on her serve at the start of the second, Fernandez did hit back with one of her own as she too showed some spirit – but it was too little, too late, as the experienced two-time Wimbledon champion powered to victory with 32 winners to 19.

The challenge she faced was not lost on Kvitova, as she said: "I definitely think that she is really playing a great game. She's a great mover. She catches a lot of balls and if she has a chance, she's really going for it.

"It was really challenging today. I'm really happy I found a way even though it wasn't easy."

Her reward is a meeting with Zhang Shuai, who saw off France's Clara Burel 7-6 (7-2) 7-5.

FLYING KENIN TRIES THE TRICKS

Kenin will take some stopping on this form. The fourth seed was imperious against Bara, winning 6-2 6-0 in one hour and 12 minutes.

The Australian Open champion rattled off 34 winners and achieved an in-match double bagel, winning 12 games on the spin after falling behind to an early break.

"I feel like I'm playing well at the slams," she said. "Obviously I feel like I should get deep in a tournament. I'm a bit hard on myself. It's a little bit different mindset now coming into the slams.

"Towards the end I just started getting a little bit careless. I started like doing drop shots towards the end, like just for fun. I was like, 'why not? Let's just do drop shots'. But then she obviously picked up her game."

Next up for Kenin is Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro, who beat Patricia Maria Tig 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 6-0.

 

JABEUR BLAZING A TRAIL AS MUGURUZA CRASHES AND BURNS

Three years after becoming the first Arab woman to reach the third round at a grand slam, Jabeur went one better by booking her place in the last 16.

The Tunisian overcame eighth seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (9-7) 2-6 6-3 out on court 14.

Jabeur took the opener after squandering three set points on serve but lost 15 points in a row at the start of the second, admitting afterwards that keeping calm and carrying on saw her through.

"She was screaming, fighting every point... in some very important points, especially when she got back at 6-6," Jabeur said. "For me, I wanted to stay calm because I had no reason to be angry. I think that helped me a lot today."

Danielle Collins awaits in the next round for Jabeur after the unseeded American produced a shock by eliminating 11th seed and 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza.

In the final match of the day, Muguruza was unable to sustain the level she showed after fighting back from a set down, as Collins progressed 7-5 2-6 6-4 despite finding herself trailing by two breaks in the decider.

Naomi Osaka survived a test to reach the US Open last 16, while Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova also won on Friday.

Osaka, the 2018 champion in New York, was pushed before getting past Ukrainian teenager Marta Kostyuk.

The top half of the women's draw is packed with seeds as Kerber and Kvitova were among those advancing at Flushing Meadows.

Petra Martic, the eighth seed, also booked her spot in the fourth round.

 

OSAKA GETS THROUGH TEST

Osaka, the fourth seed and two-time grand slam winner, battled past Kostyuk 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 6-2.

The Japanese star had 30 winners and 38 unforced errors before advancing in two hours, 33 minutes.

Osaka's left leg was again heavily strapped, but the 22-year-old insisted she was feeling fine.

"I felt like I was moving well," she said. "It could be better, but I think for a three-set match, the amount of movement that I did, and the fact that I felt like I could have kept going if I really needed to is definitely a good sign."

Awaiting Osaka in the fourth round is Anett Kontaveit after the Estonian 14th seed powered past Magda Linette 6-3 6-2.

 

KERBER, KVITOVA KEEP WINNING

For the first time since winning the tournament in 2016, Kerber is into the fourth round.

The German 17th seed was too good for Ann Li 6-3 6-4 in just 76 minutes.

"I came here and I have no idea where I am, to be honest. Still, I mean, I had three good matches, also close matches. Every match was a little bit different," Kerber said.

"But now the second week and the fourth round, I mean, you know, I'm not thinking too much ahead. It's more like I have a day off tomorrow. Then I have the next match. This is more my focus.

"I'm really trying to staying here as well in the bubble, also mentally and getting ready for the next match."

Up next for Kerber is Jennifer Brady, the American 28th seed having recorded a 6-3 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia.

A two-time US Open quarter-finalist, Kvitova advanced after a 6-4 6-3 victory over Jessica Pegula on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

MARTIC CONTINUES RUN

A quarter-finalist at the French Open last year, Martic matched a career best thanks to a 6-3 6-3 win over Varvara Gracheva.

The Croatian is into the fourth round in New York for just the second time, having also achieved the feat last year.

She will meet Yulia Putintseva, who overcame Aliaksandra Sasnovich 3-6 6-2 6-1.

Second seed Petra Martic was eliminated from the Prague Open in a straight-sets defeat to Kristyna Pliskova, but Elise Mertens booked her place in the quarter-finals.

World number 69 Pliskova struck 28 winners to 13 unforced errors on home soil as she secured a 6-1 7-5 victory in one hour and 22 minutes.

The Czech wrapped up the opening set in just 21 minutes and Martic paid the price for passing up two opportunities to hold serve at 5-5 in the second.

Pliskova, a runner-up in Prague in 2017, made Martic pay by serving out the match and setting up a meeting with Ana Bogdan, who got a walkover after Lesia Tsurenko withdrew prior to their match.

Mertens ensured Simona Halep is not the only seed remaining in the draw by defeating Camila Giorgi 6-4 6-2, while, in matches held over from Tuesday, Laura Siegemund and Tamara Zidansek wasted little time in wrapping up three-set victories over Mayar Sherif and Katerina Siniakova respectively.

It was not a day off for Halep, though. The Romanian joined forces with Barbora Strycova for a doubles match against Veronika Kudermetova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova that ended in a 6-3 3-6 10-8 loss.

Simona Halep made a winning return to the WTA Tour, edging past Polona Hercog 6-1 1-6 7-6 (7-3) in the opening round of the Prague Open.

In her first professional match in almost half a year, world number two Halep, who skipped last week's Palermo Open and will not make a decision on whether to play the US Open or not until after the tournament in the Czech Republic, was made to work hard for victory by the unseeded Hercog.

The Romanian picked up an early break and responded to dropping her serve in game three of the first by reeling off the next four in succession to take the set.

When Halep started the second set by breaking Hercog the writing appeared to be on the wall, but the Slovenian world number 46 fought back valiantly to force a decider in emphatic fashion.

Halep was unable to convert any of the six match points that came her way after breaking for a 5-3 lead, with Hercog clinging on to take the match to a third-set tie-break.

After failing to consolidate an opening mini-break, Hercog's resistance was finally broken after two hours and five minutes when a forehand into the net sent top seed Halep into the second round.

Wildcard Barbora Krejcikova ensured Halep's next match would not be an all-Romanian affair by beating Patricia Maria Tig 6-4 6-3.

Second seed Petra Martic defeated Varvara Gracheva 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 and third seed Elise Mertens needed three sets to overcome Jasmine Paolini 7-5 4-6 6-3.

A number of other seeded players were not as successful. Ekaterina Alexandrova (5) fell to qualifier Lesia Tsurenko, while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (6) went down 7-5 6-2 to Arantxa Rus, and Anastasija Sevastova (9) lost 6-2 6-2 to Irina-Camelia Begu.

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.

Petra Martic would relish the chance to play two grand slams in September but fears the coronavirus may have ended the 2020 season.

The WTA and ATP Tours have been suspended until July 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Wimbledon called off for the first time since 1945.

French Open organisers announced that the clay-court major would be put back to September 20, just a week after the US Open is scheduled to finish.

Martic, currently in lockdown in Miami, says featuring in two grand slams in quick succession would be far from ideal, but the world number 15 would embrace that challenge as an alternative could be no more tennis this year.

The Croatian told Stats Perform: "That's going to be a very unusual situation [playing the French Open so soon after Flushing Meadows] but like we all know, the schedule is not going to be perfect as there are too many tournaments.

"Everything will be cramped up, we will be flying a lot, changing surfaces and time zones. Things are definitely not going to be ideal, but grand slams are what we play for and if we get a chance to play two this year that would be great.

"Everybody fears the season could be over, they are trying their best to put potential schedules together but we have to see if anything can happen.

"If the situation in the world gets better and we are able to play, I would definitely love to play two [majors]."

Martic, who has trained every day since arriving in Florida, accepts she cannot make any plans in such an unprecedented situation.

The 29-year-old added: "My favourite part of the year is being in Europe, playing on clay is always fun and I really enjoy it but this all came so suddenly, it's a weird situation.

"When you stop it's usually because something hurts, so this waiting is not fun, but it is what it is.

"I can do everything I need to be doing, it's just you don't know how to plan things and how hard to work out, it's hard to plan anything right now."

Amanda Anisimova claimed the scalp of an out-of-sorts Elina Svitolina and Petra Martic was among the other seeds who crashed out of the Qatar Open on Monday.

Svitolina has endured a disappointing start to the season and there was no upturn in fortunes in Doha, where she was beaten 6-3 6-3 in the second round.

Martic got past Barbora Strycova in the first round in Dubai last week, but the Czech gained revenge with a 4-6 6-1 6-1 victory to move into round two.

Alison Riske, the 13th seed, lost an all-American encounter with Jennifer Brady, while 17th seed Donna Vekic went down in straight sets to Iga Swiatek.

Kiki Bertens had no such trouble, winning 6-2 6-4 against Karolina Muchova to reach the third round, while Elena Rybakina came from a set down to oust Sorana Cirstea.

 

TEENAGER ANISIMOVA STARTLES SVITOLINA

Svitolina has won just four matches this year and it was 18-year-old Anisimova who inflicted another blow on the world number seven.

The American teenager claimed a first top 10 win of 2020, taking just 64 minutes to sail through in her first appearance in this tournament.

She struck 27 winners and saved all three break points faced and will take on either Swiatek or Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the quarter-finals.

 

RYBAKINA ROARS BACK

Rybakina suffered the agony of a defeat to Simona Halep in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships on Saturday.

The 20-year-old rising star from Kazakhstan, up to a career-high 17th in the rankings, gave another demonstration of her fighting spirit by roaring back to beat Cirstea 3-6 6-3 6-1.

Rybakina already has 20 victories to her name this season and will be expected to make it 21 when she takes on Alison Van Uytvanck in the second round.

 

SUAREZ NAVARRO SETS UP BATTLE OF FORMER CHAMPIONS

Carla Suarez Navarro coasted to a 7-5 6-0 first-round victory over Zhang Shuai on day two of the tournament.

The Spaniard's reward will be a tough encounter with Petra Kvitova, two players who have experienced glory in Doha.

Suarez Navarro won the tournament in four years ago and Kvitova was crowned champion in 2018.

Top seed Simona Halep saved a match point in a gripping battle with Ons Jabeur before sealing her place in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Halep was on the brink of a surprise defeat to the in-form world number 45, but hung in there to win a thriller 1-6 6-2 7-6 (9-7) on Wednesday.

The two-time grand slam champion and Jabeur were given great backing from passionate Romanian and Tunisian supporters in a pulsating contest that swung one way and the other.

Halep appeared destined to complete the turnaround with ease when she led 3-0 in the final set, but the tenacious Jabeur was relishing the battle and showed great spirit to take the upper hand at 6-5.

The unseeded Jabeur was broken to love when serving for the match, though, and a double-fault gifted 2015 champion Halep a 4-2 lead in the tie-break, yet there was more drama to come.

Jabeur fended off three match points to earn one of her own, but Halep showed her grit to win the next two points before her gutsy opponent drilled a forehand long to end a tense two-hour contest.

Halep will face Aryna Sabalenka in the last eight after the seventh seed defeated Elise Mertens 6-4 6-3.

Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza advanced with a hard-fought Veronika Kudermetova, winning 7-5 4-6 6-4 two days after knocking out the returning Kim Clijsters.

Elena Rybakina, a three-time finalist this year, got the better of Katerina Siniakova for the second successive week, a 6-3, 6-3 victory setting up a meeting with Karolina Pliskova.

Second seed Pliskova lost just three games in emphatic defeat of Kristina Mladenovic, while Petra Martic, Jennifer Brady and Anett Kontaveit were also victorious.

World number one Ash Barty was relieved to come through the "chaos" of a first day of few shocks at the Australian Open.

Home favourite and top seed Barty had to come from a set down to progress in Melbourne, beating Lesia Tsurenko 5-7 6-1 6-1.

The Queenslander ensured she joined several other big names in advancing, with defending champion Naomi Osaka triumphing along with Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova - straight-sets winners over Anastasia Potapova and Katerina Siniakova respectively.

Venus Williams did not follow her sister into round two, though, as she fell to 15-year-old Coco Gauff once again.

Gauff had already beaten fellow American Williams at Wimbledon last year and pulled off a repeat on Monday.

Sloane Stephens crashed out 2-6 7-5 6-2 to Zhang Shuai, while Barbora Strycova lost to Sorana Cirstea in straight sets, but fellow seeds Petra Martic, Sofia Kenin and Ekaterina Alexandrova all advanced.

Caroline Wozniacki, who will retire at the end of the tournament, prolonged her career by easing past Kristie Ahn 6-1 6-3.


BARTY GETTING BETTER AT EACH SLAM

Barty won the French Open last season and feels she is improving with the experience of every major.

"It's always a little bit different, I think," she said. "Slams always feel like there's a lot of chaos going because there's so many people.

"It's busy with singles and doubles players, mixed players, families, coaches, everyone underneath. It's just chaos.

"When you're able to separate that from when you step on the court is when you can do a little bit better, play a little bit better, feel a little bit more comfortable.

"I feel like we've been able to do that better and better with each slam that I've played. It's an experience thing. You have to learn how to deal with it, but it's getting better."

Reflecting on her role as a home favourite and the top seed, Barty added: "I feel like I'm doing it the best way that I know how. I'm doing it with my team. We're doing it as a team.

"We're loving it. We're embracing it. There's no other way to approach it. I think we're just going along for the ride, trying to play some good tennis."


VENUS: THE SKY'S THE LIMIT FOR COCO

Seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams knows a thing or two about champions, and she expects new nemesis Gauff to go all the way to the top.

Asked if the teenager has a "champion's mentality", Williams replied: "She clearly wants it, works very hard, is extremely mature for her age. I think the sky's the limit for her."

The veteran was impressed by Gauff's mentality, adding: "She just played very focused and put a lot of balls in the court. That's what you have to do.

"She'll play well for the rest of the event."


WOZNIACKI 'TRYING TO ENJOY THE MOMENT'

Knowing her career is coming to an end, Wozniacki acknowledged she found it difficult to keep her emotions in check.

But the 2018 champion is determined to enjoy her final days at the top of the sport.

"I feel good, having won my first match here. It's always tricky, especially knowing it's my last tournament," she said. "There's a lot of just emotions, but I tried to keep them in check, and I thought I did that very well today.

"I think I'm just really trying to enjoy every moment. I don't know that there is one particular moment, but there is once in a while where you're like, 'Wow, this really is my last one'.

"You never know, it [could be] still two weeks from now. But every match you go out there, I'm just going to give it everything that I have, because it could be the last."

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