World number two Simona Halep extended her winning streak to 13 matches as she reached the final to delight the fans in attendance at the Internazionali d'Italia. 

Spectators were allowed at a WTA Tour event for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic suspended competitions, the Rome crowd witnessing Halep defeat Garbine Muguruza 6-3 4-6 6-4 in two hours and 14 minutes. 

Muguruza was the last woman to beat Halep, in the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January, but she was unable to produce a repeat in Italy, where the Romanian will be hoping to add to the recent titles she won in Abu Dhabi and Prague either side of the break. 

Halep, a two-time runner-up at this tournament, was 5-1 up in the third set but was pegged back to 5-4, only for Muguruza to produce back-to-back double faults that handed her opponent the victory.

"The victory is really important against Muguruza, always," Halep said afterwards.

"She's a very, very difficult player and a good player. It's always a good vibe and feeling when I win against her.

"I feel confident now that I was able to win this match."

Next up for Halep is Karolina Pliskova after the defending champion overcame Marketa Vondrousova 6-2 6-4.

Pliskova raced into a one-set lead against her fellow Czech, who was the runner-up at Roland Garros last year, but dropped her serve at the start of the second.

Vondrousova was unable to consolidate and paid the price for failing to stay in the rallies with the former world number one in the closing stages of a match that lasted one hour and 22 minutes. 

US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka lost a three-set thriller to Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals of the Internazionali d'Italia to set up a meeting with top seed Simona Halep. 

Muguruza beat her fellow former world number one 3-6 6-3 6-4 after two hours and 19 minutes, having been one point away from falling 5-3 down in an entertaining decider at Foro Italico. 

The 2016 French Open winner managed to hold her serve on that occasion, then broke to love in the next game before going on to seal the match at the third attempt. 

"I think it was a tough match. I knew it was going to be a tough match. She's a good player, she's playing good, she's with a lot of confidence," said Muguruza. 

"I knew it was going to be a tough battle. I was ready for it. I stood behind her and was waiting for my opportunities. She was playing great at the beginning. She took the first set. I kept myself together and said, 'Okay, let's start another battle in the second set'."

Next up for Muguruza is two-time Rome finalist Halep, who saw Yulia Putintseva retire from their quarter-final meeting due to a lower back injury. 

After dropping her serve to fall 6-2 2-0 down to the world number two in 47 minutes, Putintseva, who played back-to-back three-set matches in the previous two rounds, pulled out of the match. 

Halep said of Muguruza: "Every time I played well against her, [I was] as much as possible aggressive. If I play my best game and if I feel great physically on court, I have a big chance to win the match. But every time is different, because she's playing so hard. 

"You don't really know what to expect. It's tough every time. So I don't plan for a specific match, because you never know on court."

Two-time Internazionali d'Italia champion Elina Svitolina was comprehensively beaten 6-3 6-0 by Marketa Vondrousova, who was the runner-up at last year's French Open. 

Standing between Vondrousova and her first final appearance since Roland Garros last year is reigning champion Karolina Pliskova. 

Second seed Pliskova overcame Elise Mertens 6-3 3-6 6-0 as she continued to impress after initially struggling when the WTA Tour returned in August.

Naomi Osaka will take part in the Western & Southern Open semi-finals after reversing her decision to withdraw from the tournament in protest against racial injustice and police brutality.

The Western & Southern Open will not take place on Thursday amid protests against racial injustice.

Teams and players in North America boycotted several games across different sports on Wednesday over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, in Wisconsin.

Blake was repeatedly shot in the back by police, prompting nationwide protests within professional sports.

After two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka announced she would not play her Western & Southern Open semi-final against Elise Mertens scheduled for Thursday, the tournament was paused.

"As a sport, tennis is collectively taking a stance against racial inequality and social injustice that once again has been thrust to the forefront in the United States," a statement read.

"The USTA, ATP Tour, and WTA have decided to recognise this moment in time by pausing tournament play at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday, August 27.

"Play will resume on Friday, August 28."

It remains unclear if that means Osaka will take her place in the draw. The other women's semi-final is between Victoria Azarenka and Johanna Konta.

Novak Djokovic is due to face Roberto Bautista Agut in a men's semi, while Stefanos Tsitsipas is scheduled to take on Milos Raonic.

Naomi Osaka will skip her Western & Southern Open semi-final in protest of racial injustice in the United States following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Blake – a black man – was repeatedly shot in the back by police in Wisconsin and the incident has prompted nationwide protests within professional sports.

All three NBA playoff games at Walt Disney World Resort on Wednesday were postponed amid the calls for change to police brutality and injustice.

The Milwaukee Brewers-Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners-San Diego Padres games were also postponed in MLB midweek, while most of Wednesday's MLS fixtures were also called off.

Now, two-time grand slam champion Osaka – who was due to meet Elise Mertens in Thursday's semi-final at the WTA Premier event in New York – will not take to the court.

After outlasting Anett Kontaveit, the Japanese star and fourth seed released a statement via Twitter.

"Hello, as many of you are aware I was scheduled to play my semi-finals match tomorrow. However, before I am a [sic] athlete, I am a black woman," Osaka wrote.

"And as a black woman I feel as though there are much more important matters at hand that need immediate attention, rather than watching me play tennis.

"I don't expect anything drastic to happen with me not playing, but if I can get a conversation started in a majority white sport I consider that a step in the right direction.

"Watching the continued genocide of Black people at the hand of police is honestly making me sick to my stomach. I'm exhausted of having a new hashtag pop up every few days and I'm extremely tired of having this same conversation over and over again.

"When will it ever be enough? #JacobBlake, #BreonnaTaylor, #ElijahMcclain, #GeorgeFloyd."

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.

The Madrid Open will not be staged this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

September 12-20 were the revised dates for the prestigious tournament to be held after it was originally due to take place from May 1-10.

It emerged last week that local health authorities had advised Madrid Open organisers to cancel the event next month due to the "complex situation that COVID-19 continues to generate".

A spike in coronavirus cases has since prompted new measures to control the spread of the virus to be introduced, including a directive that social gatherings are to be reduced to 10 people - both in public and private meetings.

Organisers on Tuesday confirmed the tournament at the Caja Magica, due to start a fortnight before the French Open, has been cancelled and the 2021 edition will be held from April 30 to May 9.

Madrid Open director Feliciano Lopez said: "We have given our all to stage the tournament.

"After the first cancellation in May, we got to work on the September date with the hope of being able to enjoy first-class tennis in the Caja Magica during this year which has been so hard for everyone.

"However, the continued instability is still too great to hold a tournament like this in complete safety. Once again, we would like to thank the Madrid City Council and all of our sponsors and suppliers for being by our side during every step we have taken."

The cancellation means there will be no WTA Premier Mandatory events this year; with Indian Wells, the Miami Open and China Open already having been scrapped.

It is another big blow in a week that has seen WTA Tour action return at the Palermo Open. The ATP Tour is set to resume in New York on August 22 at the Western and Southern Open.

The US Open is then scheduled to start at Flushing Meadows on August 31.

The WTA Rogers Cup was cancelled for 2020 on Saturday - a reality check amid suggestions that tennis might return to normal before long.

A major event on the women's tour in the run-up to the US Open, the Rogers Cup was held in Toronto in 2019 but was due to switch to Montreal this year.

It had been scheduled to run from August 7-16. The men's Rogers Cup, played in Montreal in 2019, moves to Toronto this year and is still due to go ahead on the dates it shared with the WTA event.

The Rogers Cup Montreal tournament became an inevitable casualty when the Quebec government declared on Friday that public sports, cultural events and festivals should not go ahead before August 31 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Montreal is the biggest city in the province of Quebec.

Before the cancellation was declared, Stats Perform was told tournament organisers hoped to reschedule for later in the year. It is understood talks to that end were held between Tennis Canada and the WTA, which runs the women's tour.

However, a solution could not be found, and a WTA spokesperson said: "As a result of the measures imposed by the Quebec government prohibiting holding events until August 31, 2020, the Coupe Rogers in Montreal will postpone their event to 2021.

"The WTA reiterates that health and safety will always be the top priority. We understand this was a difficult decision and we look forward to being back in Montreal in 2021."

The announcement means the usual rotation of the ATP and WTA events between Toronto and Montreal will be stalled temporarily, with Montreal keeping the women's event it could not hold this year. It will go ahead from April 6 to 15 in 2021.

All tennis on the WTA and ATP tours has been postponed until mid-July, forcing the cancellation of Wimbledon and the postponement of the French Open, which is now due to start in September.

Canadian Bianca Andreescu is the defending WTA Rogers Cup champion, having taken the title when Serena Williams retired after just four games of the 2019 final.

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