The Fed Cup finals and play-offs have been postponed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) amid fears over the spread of coronavirus.

Multiple sporting events have been either suspended or cancelled in recent weeks as the virus continues to spread around the globe.

In Italy, all sporting events until April 3 have been postponed, while football matches across Europe are to continue to be held behind closed doors.

Earlier this week, the Indian Wells tournament – due to take place in California – was cancelled due to fears over the virus, which on Wednesday was declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

The ITF has now taken the decision to postpone the Fed Cup finals, which were due to be held in Hungary between April 14 and 19 at the Laszlo Papp Sport Arena in Budapest, while the play-offs – set to take place on April 17 and 18 in eight different locations – have also been put on hold.

"After careful consideration and close discussion with the ITF Board, the Local Organising Committee and in light of [Wednesday's announcement by the Hungarian government regarding indoor events, it is with regret that the ITF has announced the postponement of the Fed Cup Finals," a statement on the Fed Cup's official website read.

"The ITF is committed to delivering the Fed Cup Finals in 2020 and is in consultation with key stakeholders, including the Hungarian Government, the Hungarian Tennis Association (HTA) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) to find a suitable alternative date for the tournament."

The Fed Cup is an Olympic Qualification event and the ITF has pledged to work alongside the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to address any impact the postponement may have on athletes' eligibility for Tokyo 2020.

"We are extremely disappointed to have to make this decision, but we will not risk the safety and welfare of players, captains, event staff or spectators," said ITF president David Haggerty.

"This decision has not been made lightly; the threat posed by the COVID-19 is a serious one and calls for us to act responsibly as a federation and as human beings. This situation goes beyond sport."

Elina Svitolina claimed her first WTA Tour title of the year with a hard-fought win over Marie Bouzkova in the Monterrey Open final.

The Ukrainian top seed needed three hours to overcome Czech ninth seed Bouzkova 7-5 4-6 6-4 in the decider of the WTA International event.

It marked Svitolina's 14th Tour crown but first since late 2018, when she won the WTA Finals.

Bouzkova, playing her first WTA Tour final, battled hard before falling short against the world number seven.

Svitolina came from a break down to win the opening set before Bouzkova levelled the match by taking the second.

There were five breaks of serve in the final set, with Bouzkova recovering from 4-1 and 5-2 down to get back on serve before getting broken in the 10th game.

Elina Svitolina continued her impressive run to reach the Monterrey Open final, while Johanna Konta was beaten on Saturday.

Svitolina, the top seed at the WTA International event, crushed Arantxa Rus 6-0 6-1 in just 51 minutes in their semi-final.

The Ukrainian lost just nine points on serve and is yet to drop a set at this year's tournament.

Svitolina is into her 17th WTA Tour final and first of 2020, while she will be aiming for her first title since 2018.

Awaiting her in the decider is Marie Bouzkova, who beat second seed Konta 6-3 6-4.

Bouzkova, the Czech ninth seed, saved all five break points she faced to reach her maiden WTA Tour final.

Top seed Elina Svitolina reached her first WTA semi-final of the season after accounting for teenager Leylah Fernandez at the Monterrey Open, while Johanna Konta prevailed in a marathon.

Svitolina had not progressed to a semi-final since last year's season-ending WTA Finals, but the Ukrainian ended her drought by defeating 17-year-old sensation Fernandez 6-3 7-5.

World number seven Svitolina needed 98 minutes to book her spot in the final four of the WTA International event in Monterrey on Friday as Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands awaits.

Swedish sixth seed Rebecca Peterson was humbled 6-1 6-1 by Rus in the day's final match.

Number two seed Konta produced a stunning comeback to trump Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 7-6 (9-7).

Konta rallied from 5-2 down in the final set and saved two match points to outlast 18-year-old Potapova in a remarkable encounter in Mexico.

Next up is ninth seed Marie Bouzkova, who beat eighth seed Wang Yafan 6-2 7-5.

Sofia Kenin moved into the semi-finals of the Lyon Open after overcoming a tricky spell midway through her match with Oceane Dodin.

The Australian Open champion saved a match point against Romanian qualifier Jaqueline Cristian on Thursday but seemed to be finding some commanding form against Dodin as she eased into a 6-1 5-2 lead.

However, the American rather meekly allowed her opponent - ranked 130 in the world - to force a second-set tie break and then threw away a 5-1 advantage as the match went the distance.

Kenin was ultimately pleased with her performance, though, after coming through 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 following over two hours on court.

"It was still not perfect today, but I definitely feel like I found my rhythm," she said. "I was playing well, dictating well.

"It was a bit of a strange match. I was up, and somehow managed to not close it out there, but overall, I think it was a good match. I played some good tennis, some good points, and I'm happy with the way that I found my rhythm after yesterday."

Kenin will face fifth seed Alison Van Uytvanck in the last four, the Belgian having dispatched Caroline Garcia in an impressive 6-2 6-2 victory.

The second semi-final will feature Russian Daria Kasatkina, who battled past Camila Giorgi in three sets, against German Anna-Lena Friedsam, who knocked out eighth seed Viktoria Kuzmova.

Elina Svitolina and Johanna Konta eased into the Monterrey Open quarter-finals on Thursday.

Svitolina, the top seed at the WTA International event, was too strong for Belarusian Olga Govortsova 6-3 6-4 in one hour, 18 minutes.

The Ukrainian managed four breaks of serve in her victory, moving into a last-eight clash with Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez.

Konta was pushed more but still got past German Tatjana Maria 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.

The British second seed was wasteful, converting just one of 12 break points to advance.

Russian Anastasia Potapova awaits in the quarter-finals after overcoming Tamara Zidansek 1-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-1.

Arantxa Rus also booked a spot in the last eight thanks to a 7-5 6-0 victory over American 10th seed Lauren Davis.

Sofia Kenin avoided a shock second-round exit at the Lyon Open, saving a match point as she came from a set and a break down to beat Jacqueline Cristian on Thursday.

Australian Open champion Kenin dug in to avoid a straight-sets loss to 174-ranked Cristian and clinch a 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 6-4 triumph that booked a quarter-final clash with Oceane Dodin, who received a walkover from Jil Teichmann due to the Swiss' ankle injury.

The world number five acknowledged she was not at her best against the Romanian qualifier, who she has practiced with and played doubles alongside at the Internationaux de Strasbourg two years ago.

"She's a tough player. I was just fighting every point. I obviously wasn't playing my best but she was playing some really good tennis, so I'm just happy to have won," Kenin said in an on-court interview.

"I played doubles with her two years ago in Strasbroug and I've hit with her so I know her, we're good friends."

Cristian staved off a set point in the opener before edging the tie-break with a sublime backhand, and she looked on course for victory when she engineered a match point at 5-3 in the second.

Kenin denied Cristian with a drive volley and then stopped her serving out the contest in the next game, with that momentum enabling her to take the match the distance.

After failing to hold serve for the win, Kenin produced a powerful cross-court forehand to claim a decisive break in the third and book her place in the next round.

Daria Kasatkina overcame Irina Bara 6-3 6-2 and Viktoria Kuzmova downed Tereza Martincova 6-4 4-6 6-4 to reach the last eight.

Sloane Stephens was bundled out of the WTA Monterrey Open as teenage sensation Leylah Fernandez reached the quarter-finals 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-3.

Stephens broke through for her first win of 2020 to book her spot in Wednesday's second-round match following a difficult start to the year.

But the American fifth seed was upstaged by 17-year-old Fernandez, who rallied past the 2017 US Open champion in three sets midweek.

Fernandez was a surprise finalist at last week's Mexican Open in Acapulco, where the Canadian reached her maiden WTA decider.

The in-form teenager moved through to back-to-back quarter-finals after prevailing in more than two hours against Stephens, with either top seed Elina Svitolina or Olga Govortsova awaiting.

Elsewhere at the WTA International event, sixth seed Rebecca Peterson defeated Kateryna Bondarenko 7-6 (7-2) 7-5, seventh seed Wang Yafan outlasted Astra Sharma 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-3 and ninth seed Marie Bouzkova beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-4 6-1.

Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin eased into the last 16 of the Lyon Open on Wednesday, but Alize Cornet let a lead slip to crash out.

Kenin is the top seed in France this week and belatedly secured her first WTA Tour victory since a major breakthrough in Melbourne.

The American had fallen at the first hurdle in both Qatar and Dubai in recent weeks, but she had no such troubles against Vitalia Diatchenko, advancing 6-4 6-3.

A pair of early breaks in the opener saw Kenin into a 4-1 lead, although opportunities for both players punctuated the contest.

The second set began with three straight games going against the serve, before Kenin settled the match at the second attempt with her sixth successful break point from 18 attempts.

Back on the winning trail, Kenin levelled her career record against Diatchenko at 1-1 after a second-round defeat at Wimbledon in 2018.

The only other round-of-32 clash on Wednesday saw France's Oceane Dodin overcome Mandy Minella in straight sets.

Meanwhile, Kenin's fellow seeds Caroline Garcia - a 7-5 6-2 winner against Ysaline Bonaventure - and Alison Van Uytvanck - triumphing over Viktoriya Tomova - enjoyed victories as they played last-16 matches.

But home hopeful Cornet fell short of the quarter-finals in a 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 reverse at the hands of Camila Giorgi.

Cornet led by a mini-break three times in the second-set tie-break, before Giorgi edged her opponent out and then dominated the decider.

Kim Clijsters suffered another loss as her comeback continued at the Monterrey Open, while Victoria Azarenka started her 2020 with a defeat on Tuesday.

Back after more than seven years off the WTA Tour, Clijsters fell to a second straight loss, going down to second seed Johanna Konta 6-3 7-5 in the first round.

Clijsters, a wildcard at the WTA International tournament, managed to win just 12 return points in the 85-minute loss as Konta posted her first win of the year.

The four-time grand slam champion has been handed two tough draws this year, having lost to Garbine Muguruza in Dubai last month.

Playing for the first time since last year's US Open, seventh seed and last year's runner-up Azarenka was beaten 6-2 6-2 by Tamara Zidansek.

Top seed Elina Svitolina cruised through the opening round with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Danka Kovinic.

American 10th seed Lauren Davis also eased through, while there were wins for Anastasia Potapova, Leylah Fernandez, Arantxa Rus, Kateryna Bondarenko and Tatjana Maria.

Kristina Mladenovic overcame a poor start to beat wildcard Chloe Paquet in an all-French first-round encounter at the Lyon Open on Tuesday.

Mladenovic racked up 14 double faults but stormed back to beat her 166-ranked compatriot 1-6 6-2 6-4.

Half of those double faults came in a one-sided opening set, which Mladenovic put behind her to seal victory in two hours and 12 minutes.

The second seed, who will now face Anna-Lena Friedsam, said: "It was definitely not an easy match to face a countrywoman and also a friend, even though I don't know as much about her in the tennis - like, how she plays.

"It's never easy to start a tournament and we never played each other before, so it wasn't easy.

"It was very far from perfect but I'm just pleased with how I stayed calm and composed and how I fought through to find solutions to get the win."

There were no surprises on the second day of main-draw matches, with seventh seed Daria Kasatkina defeating Pauline Parmentier 6-2 5-7 6-4.

Jil Teichmann dumped out Clara Burel 6-4 6-3, while Viktoria Kuzmova, Camila Giorgi, Tereza Martincova and Viktoriya Tomova also progressed.

 

 

Sloane Stephens won her first match of 2020 after prevailing at the WTA Monterrey Open, while Venus Williams' woes continued.

Stephens – the American fifth seed – ended her drought by outlasting Emma Navarro 6-4 5-7 6-1 in Monterrey on Monday.

Prior to this week, Stephens had featured in four tournaments without a win, including a first-round exit at the Australian Open.

But the 2017 US Open champion finally opened her account for the year via the WTA International event after two hours, 17 minutes.

Former world number one Williams and her winless year continued, however, following a 4-6 6-3 6-2 defeat to qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.

Seven-time grand slam winner Williams battled but the 39-year-old was eventually eliminated after two hours, 29 minutes on court.

Elsewhere, Wang Yafan, Rebecca Peterson, Olga Govortsova, Astra Sharma and Marie Bouzkova progressed to the second round.

Caroline Garcia produced a final-set fightback to beat Greet Minnen and join compatriot Alize Cornet in the second round of the inaugural Lyon Open on Monday.

Garcia has made a poor start to the season and was in danger of falling at the first hurdle in the city where she resides, but fought back to win 6-4 1-6 7-6 (7-5).

The third seed trailed Belgian outsider Minnen 4-2 in the deciding set before pulling herself off the ropes to book a meeting with Ysaline Bonaventure.

Cornet's passage into the second round proved to be much more straightforward, defeating 162-ranked German Antonia Lottner 7-5 6-0.

The fourth seed grasped six of eight break-point opportunities and served a dozen aces to sail through.

Alison Van Uytvanck, the fifth seed, needed just an hour to defeat Katarzyna Kawa 6-1 6-3, while Anna-Lena Friedsam and Irina Bara also advanced.

Jaqueline Cristian could face Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin after losing just two games in a thrashing of Priscilla Hon.

 

Kim Clijsters feels her game is "improving" ahead of the second match of her comeback against Johanna Konta at the Monterrey Open.

After a creditable performance in defeat to Australian Open runner-up Garbine Muguruza at the Dubai Tennis Championships last month, the 36-year-old's return to the sport continues this week.

She meets world number 16 Konta in the first round on Tuesday and continues to make positive steps.

"I feel like with the tennis that I've been playing, I'm improving," four-time grand slam winner Clijsters said ahead of her match in Mexico.

"In practice, I'm moving better, I'm reacting better, I'm making better decisions. 

"It has to happen in the match now. The more matches I get to play, the more that will improve a little bit, and we'll see how far I can go.

"I still have a good level in me. I've played one official match so far and some practice sets so I would like to have more matches. That's the only way that I can practice certain things that you can only learn from matches."

The 6-2 7-6 (8-6) loss to Muguruza in Dubai was Clijsters' first contest since losing to Laura Robson in the second round of the US Open in August 2012.

Clijsters is braced for disappointments and setbacks in her return to the tour, but understands she will have to go through that in order to be competitive once more.

"It's a process of ups and downs," she said. "That is something you have to understand.

"It comes with failure, but I think it's how you deal with the moments where it's the toughest. That is when you improve the most, when you learn the most about yourself and when you are capable of improving. 

"That was something I was always able to do well. When I lost in the past I was disappointed, but after a certain amount of time, I was able to make that switch in my head and use it, and that's how I was able to become better. 

"It's that kind of mindset. It's important to not get discouraged about the losses and use it to motivate you even more."

Clijsters can take optimism from the fact Konta has lost all three of her matches in 2020, with the Briton having never played her before.

Heather Watson claimed her first WTA Tour title in four years with a win over Leylah Fernandez in the Mexican Open final on Saturday.

The Brit overcame Canadian teenager Fernandez 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-1 in the decider of the WTA International event in Acapulco.

Watson's title was the fourth of her WTA career but first since winning the Monterrey Open in March 2016.

For Fernandez, 17, it ended a memorable run to her first WTA final, and it proved quite the battle against Watson.

Watson won the first four games before a tough second set during which both players had their chances.

After Watson saved four set points to deny Fernandez, the teenager incredibly saved five match points to force a decider.

Watson recovered from that disappointment by rolling out to a 3-0 lead in the third set, although she needed another five match points to seal her victory.

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