Shelby Rogers will face 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams in the quarter-finals of the Top Seed Open after seeing off Leylah Fernandez.

American Rogers was too good for Fernandez, winning 6-2 7-5 at the WTA International event in Lexington on Thursday.

After cruising in the opening set, Rogers trailed 5-2 in the second before reeling off five straight games to trump the emerging Canadian teenager.

Awaiting Rogers in the last eight is countrywoman and former world number one Serena Williams, who outlasted sister Venus earlier in the day.

Serena rallied from a set down to defeat Venus 3-6 6-3 6-4 in the 31st instalment of a rivalry dating back 22 years.

Down 4-2 in the deciding set, the 38-year-old Serena fought back to vanquish Venus after two hours, 19 minutes on Center Court.

Elsewhere, Jil Teichmann stunned fifth seed Yulia Putintseva 6-2 6-2 and next meets Cici Bellis – who accounted for Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-2.

A "super relaxed" Serena Williams plans to just "see what happens" at the Top Seed Open after beating her sister Venus to reach the quarter-finals 

Serena came from a set down to defeat her older sibling 3-6 6-3 6-4 in a tight contest in Lexington, Kentucky on Thursday.

The 23-time grand slam singles champion has been taken the distance in back-to-back matches this week in her first WTA Tour event since the season resumed following a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Serena said she has no expectations of winning the tournament a fortnight before the US Open gets under way behind closed doors at Flushing Meadows.

The 38-year-old American said: "I honestly didn't come here to win for the first time in my career. I just came here to get some matches and see what happens.

"I haven't had this much time off since the baby [her daughter Olympia]. Now I'm just trying to get some rhythm and see what happens to be honest."

Serena came from 4-2 down in the final set to book a meeting with Shelby Rogers or Leylah Fernandez and the former world number one had high praise for her 40-year-old sister Venus after coming out on top for a 19th time in their 31 meetings.

"She played unbelievable," the top seed said. "Honestly, I don't know how I was able to pull it out in the end."

Serena added: "I just really tried to focus on those last two games. I am super relaxed. There's no crowd, so it kind of makes it super relaxing. And I have been practicing in a lot hotter conditions than today."

Victory for Serena came after Bianca Andreescu, her conqueror in the US Open final last year, revealed she is not ready to make her comeback in New York.

The 20-year-old Canadian has not been in competitive action since October after suffering a knee injury and said the COVID-19 crisis left her short of preparation to ensure she could fire on all cylinders at the US Open.

Serena Williams fought back from a set down to defeat sister Venus on Thursday and advance through to the quarter-finals of the Top Seed Open.

In the 31st instalment of a rivalry going back 22 years between the legendary siblings, it was tournament favourite Serena who prevailed 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Kentucky.

Serena trailed by two games in the deciding set but hit back to win a high-quality contest and set up a meeting with either Shelby Rogers or Leylah Fernandez in the next round.

Both players are this week competing for the first time since the WTA Tour season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it was Venus who started the quicker.

Serena charged into a 2-0 lead in the opening set but her older sibling won five games on the bounce to take control.

There were too many errors from Serena, and Venus made her pay, winning the first set point she manufactured courtesy of a powerful serve that the favourite could not return.

Serena, who has now won 10 of their past 12 completed encounters dating back to 2009, responded well in the second and went a break up at 4-2 before seeing out the set to level up.

After a 10-minute break in accordance with the heat rule, Serena drew first blood in the deciding set by breaking her opponent with a cross-court forehand in the third game.

Venus instantly hit back by breaking in the following game and opened up a 4-2 advantage when converting with a forehand winner in the sixth.

However, the older Williams - without a win this season - was unable to pull clear and lost two of the next three games, with Serena making the most of a double-fault to lead 5-4.

The final game went with the serve, despite the 23-time Grand Slam winner falling 30-15 behind, as Venus misfired off the forehand down the middle to settle a tight tussle.

Simona Halep had to produce a significant fightback to prevent a shock defeat to Barbora Krejcikova in the second round of the Prague Open on Thursday.

Neither player was particularly convincing in the early stages, with each of the first four games going against serve, but it was Krejcikova who settled quicker to take the first set 6-3.

She then brought the second set back to 5-5 after being 5-2 down, but Halep managed to see it out to level the match, before going on to seal the 3-6 7-5 6-2 win in the decider.

Top-seed Halep will face Poland's Magdalena Frech – ranked 174 in the world – in the quarter-finals after she saw off Arantxa Rus 6-3 2-6 6-4.

The day began with what turned out to be a gruelling encounter between Eugenie Bouchard and Tamara Zidansek, but the Canadian – who is attempting to climb back up the rankings after slipping to 330 – prevailed to reach her second WTA quarter-final of the year, winning 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (2-7) 6-2 in two hours, 56 minutes.

Sara Sorribes Tormo had no such difficulty against Laura Siegemund as she emerged 6-2 6-3 victor, but she will have to wait until Friday to find out her next opponent after Irina-Camelia's meeting with Leonie Kung was suspended due to poor light.

Kung had just won the first set 7-6 (7-3).

Coco Gauff moved into the Top Seed Open quarter-finals with an impressive win in Lexington on Wednesday.

The 16-year-old edged past second seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-4 at the WTA International event.

Gauff, who reached the fourth round at the Australian Open this year, twice gave up a break lead in the final set before making the most of her third chance.

The American moved into the last eight, where she will face eighth seed Ons Jabeur.

Jabeur also battled, beating qualifier Olga Govortsova 3-6 6-2 6-4.

Jennifer Brady and Marie Bouzkova claimed straight-sets wins to reach the last eight.

Brady crushed sixth seed Magda Linette 6-2 6-3, while Bouzkova was too good for Anna Blinkova 6-4 6-2.

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.

Serena Williams will face sister Venus in the Top Seed Open second round after contrasting wins on Tuesday.

In action for the first time since the WTA Tour season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Serena edged past Bernarda Pera.

The top seed at the WTA International event, Serena recorded a 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory after being five points from defeat.

The 23-time grand slam champion raced through the final set, losing just seven points on serve to advance in Lexington.

Awaiting Serena in the second round is Venus, who was too good for Victoria Azarenka 6-3 6-2.

The sisters will meet for the 31st time, with Serena holding an 18-12 win-loss record over Venus.

Sloane Stephens had endured a tough start to 2020 before the season was suspended, and the 2017 US Open champion suffered another loss.

The seventh seed was well beaten by qualifier Leylah Fernandez 6-3 6-3 to slip to a 1-6 win-loss record this year.

The only other seed in action was Yulia Putintseva, who brushed past Ajla Tomljanovic 6-0 6-4.

Coco Gauff, 16, was pushed in her opener, overcoming Caroline Dolehide 7-5 7-5.

CiCi Bellis, Shelby Rogers, Jil Teichmann, Anna Blinkova and Olga Govortsova also advanced.

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.

Eugenie Bouchard secured an upset in the only main-draw match that could be completed on day one of the Prague Open.

Former Wimbledon finalist Bouchard was playing for the first time since the WTA Tour was shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the weather prevented a number of her contemporaries from taking to the court.

The wildcard Canadian - now ranked 330th - was a 6-0 6-3 victor over eighth seed Veronika Kudermetova.

Reflecting on her return to action, Bouchard said: "It's hard to know what to expect. I haven't played a real match since January.

"I've played a couple of exhibitions, which helped a lot, but it's still different, it's not a real tournament. I didn't set any expectations.

"I'm so grateful to have a job and to have this opportunity. You appreciate things more when they're taken away from you."

"I didn't know what to expect in terms of my level. I played better than I expected. I just wanted to be there mentally, no matter what."

Kristyna Pliskova had already played at last week's Palermo Open but was frustrated in her efforts to get past 15-year-old WTA debutant Linda Fruhvirtova on Monday.

The match was twice stopped due to a thunderstorm, with the second heavy downpour leading to the suspension of play for the day.

That meant no action for third seed Elise Mertens and Jasmine Paolini, who each lost to Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Italy.

Meanwhile, Dayana Yastremska and Daria Kasatkina withdrew from the tournament due to dental and hamstring issues respectively.

Simona Halep was belatedly set to make her WTA comeback on Tuesday.

She told WTA Insider: "Honestly, I don't really know how to manage now the comeback.

"The good thing is that everyone is in the same position. I was not injured and forced to stay away from tennis. Everyone is in the same position and now we will see who is going to manage the comeback better.

"I feel like I have the experience to deal with it and, if I take it relaxed and give my best every match, I'm pretty sure that soon I will touch the level again.

"But I'm also sure I will struggle a little bit because my style and my type of personality is to keep playing matches and always I needed matches to find the rhythm.

"Now it's different. So I cannot complain but I also cannot be happy. It's in the middle."

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.

A relieved Donna Vekic was simply happy she "didn't forget how to play tennis" after easing to the first main-draw win on the WTA Tour for five months at the Palermo Open.

Vekic made up for lost time on Monday following a coronavirus-enforced hiatus, thrashing Arantxa Rus 6-1 6-2 two days after qualifying in Sicily marked the official return of professional tennis.

There was only a small number of people to witness the action, players handling their own towels, no handshakes as well as a smaller team of ball kids and line officials, but Vekic clearly had no problem adapting.

The sixth seed from Croatia said in a post-match video call: "I'm definitely a little bit surprised [at the margin of her victory].

"It was very tricky conditions, it was very windy so the ball was a little bit all over the court. I'm just definitely happy that I didn't forget how to play tennis, how to play matches, how to win. It's a huge relief."

Sara Errani, Laura Siegemund, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Elisabetta Cocciaretto also made it through to the second round.

It would have been a relief for organisers to see the action get under way just a couple of days after an unnamed player tested positive for COVID-19.

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep was among a host of players to withdraw from the first tournament since March due to concerns over coronavirus.

 

Petra Kvitova is not in favour of playing at a grand slam behind closed doors, claiming she would rather see the events cancelled than be held without fans.

The WTA and ATP Tour have been heavily disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, with many tournaments postponed – the French Open having been pushed back to September – and others, including Wimbledon, cancelled altogether.

Kvitova is returning to the court in a tournament in her native Czech Republic this week, which will be played without fans in attendance.

However, the possibility of featuring in a grand slam behind closed doors does not appeal to the two-time Wimbledon champion.

"I have my age and of course I would like to play another grand slam, but if it's like this, I'd rather cancel them," Kvitova, 30, said at a news conference.

"Playing a grand slam is the greatest thing there is and playing without fans who are our engine doesn't look nice to me and the grand slam doesn't deserve it."

The event Kvitova is taking part in this week features eight men and eight women, who will not shake hands before or after their matches, while ball boys will not be allowed to hand towels to the players.

"We are here to reintroduce tennis not only to the Czech Republic, but also to the world," Kvitova added.

"The hardest thing will be to find the rhythm, we haven't played a match for a very long time.

"I hope nobody expects us to play fantastic tennis, because it may happen or it may not."

The world number 12 opens her tournament against doubles specialist Barbora Krejcikova on Tuesday.

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