Belinda Bencic stood firm to reach the quarter-finals of the Abu Dhabi Open while fellow favourites Anett Kontaveit and Jelena Ostapenko headed home.

Bencic clinched her second last-eight spot of the year with a 6-4 7-5 win over Marta Kostyuk, though the world number nine was pushed hard by the Ukrainian, who remains without a top-10 win in her career after failing to see through the second set from 5-3 up.

The second seed will next face Shelby Rogers, who advanced courtesy of a walkover following Kontaveit's retirement through injury after falling 4-1 behind in the pair's decisive third set. 

Kontaveit was not the only seed to fall, with Ostapenko slipping to a surprise 7-6 (12-10) 6-1 loss against China's Zheng Qinwen.

Fourth seed Veronika Kudermetova fared better, however, racing to a 6-1 7-5 win against Elise Mertens to keep her campaign alive. 

At the Linz Open, top seed Maria Sakkari cruised to a straight-sets success against Varvara Gracheva, while Anastasia Potapova battled to a 7-5 3-6 6-3 victory against Jule Niemeier.

Third seed Irina-Camelia Begu was the highest-ranked player to exit in the last 16 in Austria, suffering a 6-2 6-1 defeat against Danish 20-year-old Clara Tauson.

Number five seed Jelena Ostapenko booked a place in the last 16 of the Abu Dhabi Open with victory over Danielle Collins in three sets on Monday.

Ostapenko, looking to add to the fifth career title she won in Dubai 12 months ago, edged an entertaining contest 7-5 1-6 7-5 in two hours and 19 minutes.

Fellow seeded player Anett Kontaveit was also victorious on the opening day of the tournament, but only after battling back to beat Zhang Shuai 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4.

Marta Kostyuk saw off Sorana Cirstea 6-2 1-6 6-2, meanwhile, and will now face second seed Belinda Bencic in the next round.

Elise Mertens is also through to round two, where Veronika Kudermetova awaits, after dominating Martina Trevisan 6-0 6-2.

In the first main draw match at the Linz Open, Sofia Kenin let an early lead slip to lose 2-6 6-3 6-4 to Jule Niemeier.

Paula Badosa savoured a strong serving day as she overcame Anett Kontaveit in a tricky Adelaide International 2 opener ahead of the Australian Open.

Badosa and Kontaveit both got as high as number two in the world rankings last year, but neither currently sits in the top 10, with Badosa down at number 11 and Kontaveit 17th.

Tuesday's tussle in South Australia went the way of the Spaniard, with Badosa scoring a 6-4 6-3 win against her Estonian opponent.

She had five aces and only one double fault, winning 77 per cent of points when landing a first serve in.

Another Estonian awaits her at the last-16 stage in veteran campaigner Kaia Kanepi and Badosa is happy with how she had begun the tournament.

"I think I started really good," Badosa said in an on-court interview. "I was serving very well. I was going for the first shots."

Asked about signs of improvement with her serve, Badosa said: "It depends on the day, to be honest. I worked a lot this past 10 days and was really focused on that, so I'm happy about that."

Czech Barbora Krejcikova, another player with a career-high ranking of number two, earned a second-round shot at Russian Daria Kasatkina after winning 6-2 7-6 (7-3) against last year's runner-up Alison Riske-Amritraj.

Other winners in Adelaide on Tuesday were Amanda Anisimova, Zheng Qinwen, Veronika Kudermetova, Anna Kalinskaya and Katerina Siniakova.

At the Hobart International, second seed Elise Mertens fell 6-4 6-4 to fellow Belgian Maryna Zanevska, while French third seed Alize Cornet was also knocked out, losing 6-4 6-2 to Italy's Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

Former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin had no such trouble, seeing off China's Zhu Lin 6-2 6-2

Emma Raducanu and Coco Gauff both got off to winning starts at the ASB Classic in Auckland on Tuesday.

Raducanu had to come from a set down to beat Linda Fruhvirtova 4-6 6-4 6-2, while top seed Gauff had an easier time of it as she dismissed Tatjana Maria 6-4 6-1 on another day interrupted by the rain.

Second seed Sloane Stephens was only able to get through three games before play was suspended in her match against Rebeka Masarova, while fifth seed Wang Xiyu was 5-3 down in the first set against Karolina Muchova when the rain came.

Fourth seed Bernarda Pera is out after her match with Viktoria Kuzmova resumed having being washed out on Monday, and the American was unable to prevent a 6-4 6-4 defeat, with Kuzmova advancing to face Raducanu in the last 16.

The only two other matches completed on Tuesday saw Elena-Gabriela Ruse beat Erin Routliffe in three sets, and Anna Blinkova overcome Elisabetta Cocciaretto, also in three.

At the Adelaide International, Zheng Qinwen earned a hard-fought victory against number six seed Anett Kontaveit, eventually winning 6-1 4-6 7-6 (9-7).

Eighth seed Ekaterina Alexandrova also crashed out despite winning the first set against Marketa Vondrousova, going on to lose 4-6 6-3 6-2, though seventh seed Jelena Ostapenko is through after beating Karolina Pliskova 6-1 6-3.

In a contest that lasted over two-and-a-half hours despite only two sets being played, Victoria Azarenka beat Anhelina Kalinina 7-6 (11-9) 7-6 (7-5), and will face Zheng next, while Sorana Cirstea will go up against top seed Ons Jabeur in the last 16 after beating Viktorija Golubic in straight sets.

Anett Kontaveit and Maria Sakkari were both knocked out of the Ostrava Open on Thursday as several top seeds tumbled.

Third seed Kontaveit, who won this competition last year, retired when a set down to Tereza Martincova, while world number seven Maria Sakkari was defeated 5-7 7-5 7-5 by 21-year-old American Alycia Parks in a big upset.

Parks lost the opener but found two crucial breaks of serve when 6-5 up in both the second and third sets to eliminate the fourth seed.

The withdrawal of Belinda Bencica – seeded sixth – with a foot injury put Barbora Krejcikova into the quarter-finals, while Ekaterina Alexandrova will also be in the last eight after overcoming fifth seed Daria Kasatkina 6-1 7-6 (7-1).

The tournament favourites were in much better form at the Jasmin Open in Tunisia, as the top two seeds sealed their places in the quarter-finals with straight-sets wins.

Favourite Ons Jabeur cruised to a 6-1 6-3 victory over Evgeniya Rodina, converting four of her seven break points to safely advance to the next round of her home tournament.

And number two seed Veronika Kudermetova eased past Magdalena Frech 6-3 6-4 to set up a quarter-final meeting with Diane Parry.

Barbora Krejcikova claimed her first title of the year by beating top seed Anett Kontaveit in the inaugural Tallinn Open final on Sunday.

Krejcikova had not won a singles title since her third triumph of 2021 in Prague last July, but ended her drought with a 6-2 6-3 defeat of the top seed.

The Czech ended the home favourite's hopes of being crowned champion in a showpiece match that was over in an hour and 21 minutes.

Kontaveit had won 24 consecutive indoor matches on hard courts, but she was no match for the 2021 French Open champion.

Krejcikova won 71 per cent of points on Kontaveit's second serve, breaking twice in the opening set and three times in the second.

She drew first blood to go 4-2 in the first following precise groundstrokes off both wings, then broke for a second time to seal an opening set in which Kontaveit made 13 unforced errors.

World number four Kontaveit responded with a break in the opening game of the second set, but failed to back that up with a hold.

Kontaveit had the initiative again at 3-1, but there was a sense of deja vu as her opponent broke straight back and served out the match after moving 5-3 in front with another break.

Anett Kontaveit secured a spot in the semi-finals of the Tallinn Open after overcoming Ysaline Bonaventure 6-3 3-6 6-3.

On home soil, the top seed won 80 per cent of total service points in the opening set but Bonaventure fought back in the second to send the match to a deciding set.

A valiant effort from Kontaveit in the third set secured a spot in the final four, where she will face compatriot Kaia Kanepi after her 6-2 3-6 7-6 (8-6) victory over Karolina Muchova in the final match of the day.

Earlier on Friday, second seed Belinda Bencic defeated Donna Vekic to set up a semi-final clash against Barbora Krejcikova, who defeated Beatriz Haddad Maia in straight sets.

At the Parma Ladies Open, the scheduled semi-finals were postponed due to rain and will instead be played on Saturday, with the final to follow later in the day.

Top seed Maria Sakkari faces Danka Kovinic, with play to begin at 10:30 local time, and will be followed by Ana Bogdan against Mayar Sherif.

Tallinn Open top seed Anett Kontaveit kept her hopes of winning her home tournament alive with a 6-2 6-1 demolition of Tereza Martincova on Thursday.

The 26-year-old won five out of the final six games as she stormed to the first set, before securing her place in the quarter-finals with a superb second set in which she broke Martincova four times.

Fellow Estonian Kaia Kanepi is also through to the quarter-finals after a 7-5 7-5 victory over Ann Li.

The world number 32 found a crucial break with the opener tied at 5-5 as she took the first set, before breaking Li three times in the second to seal the win.

Eighth seed Shuai Zhang was dumped out by Donna Vekic in a 6-2 6-4 defeat, while fellow seed Jil Teichmann also saw her tournament ended as Ysaline Bonaventure beat her 7-6 (10-8) 6-3.

At the Parma Ladies Open, top seed Maria Sakkari came from a set down for the second consecutive match to overcome Maryna Zanevska and reach the semi-finals.

Zanevska sparked hopes for an upset as she broke the world number seven three times on her way to taking the opening set.

But Sakkari improved in the second to tie the match, before overcoming two breaks of serve from her Belgian opponent to win six of the last seven games and earn a 2-6 6-4 6-4 success.

Sakkari will face Danka Kovinic in the semi-finals, after the 27-year-old's 6-4 6-4 triumph over Italian Jasmine Paolini.

Irina-Camelia Begu's run of 12 consecutive wins on clay came to an end as she was defeated 6-2 7-6 (8-6) by Ana Bogdan in an all-Romanian clash. 

Bogdan's opponent in the final four will be Mayar Sherif, who beat American Lauren Davis 7-6 (7-2) 6-3.

Anett Kontaveit fought back to secure her place in the last 16 of the Tallinn Open in her native Estonia against a spirited Xiyu Wang.

The in-form Wang made life difficult for top seed Kontaveit initially, impressively taking the first set against the world number four.

Kontaveit then appeared to be cruising to victory when she took the second set 6-2 and found herself 5-1 up in the third, but Wang staged something of a revival.

Wang won four games on the trot to stun Kontaveit, only for the 21-year-old to lose her nerve as her opponent broke again and then served out the match 3-6 6-2 7-5, taking her through to face Tereza Martincova.

Beatriz Haddad Maia was also caused problems by a Chinese player, with Xinyu Wang taking the third seed to three sets.

Haddad Maia took the first set fairly comfortably but was blown away in the second before her composure returned in the decider, winning 6-3 1-6 6-4 to also progress to the last 16.

The other seed in action on Tuesday was Jil Teichmann, and she had no such issues seeing off Laura Siegemund 6-4 7-6 (9-7), although the day's most impressive win saw Donna Vekic thrash Maileen Nuudi 6-2 6-0.

At the Parma Ladies Open, second seed Martina Trevisan was stunned 7-5 6-0 by Sara Sorribes Tormo.

It was a bad day for seeds throughout the draw in Italy. Anna Bondar (fifth), Nuria Parrizas Diaz (seventh) and Lucia Bronzetti (eighth) all lost in straight sets.

Third favourite Irina-Camelia Begu did buck that trend, however. She benefited from Viktoriya Tomova retiring, although the Romanian was already a set and 5-1 up.

Serena Williams revealed how Tiger Woods encouraged her to return to tennis for one last glory mission after she powered into round three of the US Open.

Golf great Woods was on his feet and rapturously celebrating as Williams beat number two seed Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday night in New York.

He had been invited to sit in Williams' player box and shared conversations with Venus Williams as they watched Serena push past Kontaveit with a dynamic display, coming through 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2 on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It was remarkable from the 40-year-old on court as she found an extra gear for the deciding set, teeing up a clash with Australian world number 46 Ajla Tomjlanovic.

Williams has firmly indicated this will be her final tournament before retirement, and a host of stars have come out to watch her in action, with former US president Bill Clinton in the crowd for her first-round match.

Woods, actress Zendaya and film director Spike Lee were among those watching the Kontaveit match, and Williams suggested afterwards that she and 15-time major champion Woods had helped each other with their respective comebacks.

At this time last year, Williams was sidelined by a leg problem sustained at Wimbledon, while Woods was recovering from the serious leg injuries he suffered in a car crash.

"He's one of the reasons I'm here, one of the main reasons I'm still playing," Williams said. "We talked a lot. He was really trying to get me motivated.

"There's a few people, but we were like, 'Okay, we can do this together'.

"It was good, because I didn't know what I wanted to do. I was just lost, so many questions. When you can rely on someone like that, I mean, my goodness, he's Tiger Woods, it was really helpful to get clarity."

What Williams is wary of at this stage is raising her own expectations.

She was charmingly dismissive of an on-court question when asked if she was surprised by how well she was performing.

As far as Williams is concerned, she has proven countless times she is the greatest player, certainly of her own era, so even with limited preparation she backs herself.

But thinking too intently about winning majors may have been costly in recent years, with Williams having lost her last four grand slam finals to remain on 23 singles titles, one short of Margaret Court's all-time record.

"I cannot think that far," when asked about the prospect of winning the tournament. "I'm having fun and I'm enjoying it. Honestly, I've had so many tough matches the last I don't know how long that I just feel like just being prepared for everyone that I play is just going to be really, really difficult. Get through those moments."

In typical Williams fashion, she has danced around the subject of retirement since writing in Vogue in early August she would be "evolving away from tennis".

She spoke of wanting to "relish these next few weeks" in the magazine article, and so far at Flushing Meadows she is savouring every moment.

Serena and Venus were due to play doubles on Thursday, again on the Ashe Stadium court, with more fanfare expected.

"I think I've mostly been kind of blocking everything out, but then at the same time I've been embracing a little bit of it, because I also want to enjoy the moment," WIlliams said.

"I just feel like I have had a big red X on my back since I won the US Open in '99. It's been there my entire career, because I won my first grand slam early in my career.

"But here it's different. I feel like I've already won, figuratively, mentally. It's just pretty awesome the things that I've done."

Serena Williams' remarkable run in her final grand slam continued to gather pace on Thursday as she reached the US Open women's singles third round with a 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2 triumph over Anett Kontaveit.

The record-breaking 23-time major winner may be set to step away from tennis following the conclusion of this year's event at Flushing Meadows, where she is also partnered with sister Venus in women's doubles.

But her latest victory arguably ranks as one of the most impressive she has racked up in recent years, with the record-extending stats underneath her win backing up her place in the sporting pantheon.

Williams has now won 367 matches in grand slam tournaments, comfortably extending her Open Era record for women's tennis and moving her within two of Roger Federer's outright record of 369.

In turning over Kontaveit, she also made it 10 victories against top-two seeded opponents in grand slam tournaments on the trot, last losing such a match at the 2007 US Open against Justine Henin.

In addition, it also brought up 100 US Open match victories when winning the opening set, with Williams having only tasted defeat on a further three occasions when striking first at this major.

Serena Williams says this is the most free she has felt on a tennis court in over 20 years after shocking world number two Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2 to advance to the third round of the US Open.

Williams, 40, found another gear in the deciding set as she rode the wave of momentum that came from the raucous, sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.

While Williams rose to the occasion, Kontaveit folded, posting three winners and 11 unforced errors in the third set, allowing the all-time great to secure the victory with a break-to-love.

On the court after the match – after a recorded video message from Oprah Winfrey also aired after Monday's win over Danka Kovinic – Williams said while everyone else may have been surprised by the result, she still has supreme confidence in her abilities.

"Well, I'm a pretty good player," she said playfully. "You know, this is what I do best. 

"I love a challenge. I love rising to the challenge. Yeah, I haven't played many matches, but I've been practicing really well. 

"In my last few matches, it just wasn't coming together. I'm like, this isn't me. The last couple matches here in New York, it's really come together."

Williams admitted that she thought to herself "this could be it" after dropping the second set, but highlighted the fact that this is the first time in over 20 years that she does not feel like she has a target on her back.

"Honestly, I'm just looking at [this run] as a bonus," she said. "I don't have anything to prove. I don't have anything to win. I have absolutely nothing to lose.

"Honestly, I never get to play like this since '98 really. Literally, I've had an 'X' on my back since '99. It's kind of fun.

"I really enjoy just coming out and enjoying it. It's been a long time since I've been able to do that."

Lastly, Williams talked about what it will be like to step back out onto the doubles court with sister Venus Williams on Friday night.

"I'm so excited for doubles," she said. "It's like, it's been so long. We got to play again, we got to bring the reunion back.

"I'm excited to play with Venus, get some more practice – because I could use the matches."

Serena Williams gave the celebrity-laden crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night a taste of her very best, pulling through in the third set to defeat world number two Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4-7) 2-6 6-2.

The two-hour-and-27-minute victory sees Williams, who has announced her intention to evolve out of playing tennis after the US Open, move into the third round where she will face Australian world number 46 Ajla Tomjlanovic.

The opening set had Williams' power serving game on full display, winning 89 per cent (24-of-27) of the points when she landed her first serve fair, while producing six break point opportunities in her return game while only facing three.

She could only convert one of those break point chances, going up 5-4 with a chance to serve out the set, before handing the break straight back, leading to a tiebreaker.

Of the 11 tiebreaker points, only one went against the serve, with Williams seizing her opportunity to secure the opening frame.

As Williams' serve fell off in the second set – only winning 50 per cent of her successful first serves – Kontaveit fought her way back into the game, producing a clean set as she hit 13 winners to only three unforced errors, wrapping up the frame in a snappy 36 minutes to take it to a decider.

After holding serve to open the set, Williams then took a 2-0 lead as she was able to convert her third break point chance of the marathon 13-point game. That was followed with a 12-point game where Kontaveit was able to break back, as the 40-year-old American was visibly slowing down the longer the match dragged on.

As Williams' energy reserves began to run low, she tried to compensate with as many one-shot rallies as possible, going for sink-or-swim drives down the line and across the court – resulting in some spectacular winners, but also an increase in unforced errors.

It turned out to be the right strategy as Kontaveit continued to have trouble with Williams' power, giving up the late break again to go down 3-1 before the living legend consolidated her advantage with a hold-to-love, sending the crowd wild as they could see the finish line.

With Tiger Woods in her players' box cheering her on, Williams secured a point from a 19-shot rally as the atmosphere hit fever pitch, and despite the effort required in that point, she was able to repel another break point opportunity to hold and go 5-2 up.

Ultimately, the cauldron inside the sold-out stadium proved too much for Kontaveit, who could not find winners down the stretch. She posted three winners and 11 unforced errors in the final set, including a double-fault in her final service game as she was broken-to-love to secure the stunning result.

Data Slam: Serena continues to win the big matches

Williams has now won her last 10 grand slam matches against opponents ranked in the top-two, with her last loss coming to Justine Henin 15 years ago at the 2007 US Open.

She has also only lost three of her previous 104 US open matches when she has won the first set, and is 42-0 in the opening two rounds at Flushing Meadows.


Williams – 38/39

Kontaveit – 30/27 


Williams – 11/6

Kontaveit – 5/5 


Williams – 5/12

Kontaveit – 5/11

The hype around Serena Williams' potential swansong tournament is "the biggest thing I've ever seen in women's tennis", says Torben Beltz, the coach of her next opponent Anett Kontaveit.

Williams has announced she is soon to retire, and the US Open is widely expected to be her final tournament.

The 23-time grand slam champion came through in straight sets in her first-round match against Danka Kovinic to set up a tough meeting with world number two Kontaveit on Wednesday.

Beltz wanted to watch Williams' opening match but could not do so after Arthur Ashe Stadium sold out, with reports of tickets on the secondary market on sale for around $1,000.

And Beltz says he has not seen anything like it, telling the New York Times: "I couldn't get a ticket. 

"This is the biggest thing I've ever seen in women's tennis. I think it's the greatest thing for the sport, and we all have to thank Serena for all she did. Especially right now with the end coming."

While Beltz's charge Kontaveit is favourite for the second-round match, the Estonian's coach knows it will be a tough match against the six-time US Open champion.

"I think her ball speed, serve and return is really up to her prime time," Beltz added.

"I saw her other matches, and it looks like she's improved over the last couple of weeks. She looks in better shape and looks good now.

"For Anett, I think the key is to just go out and try to play her best tennis but also enjoy the moment. It's going to be a big challenge, a great challenge, but I think she wants that challenge and wants to embrace it."

Serena Williams is "looking better every day" and only she could handle the US Open hoopla that surrounds her, according to world number one Iga Swiatek.

In a febrile atmosphere, Williams made a winning start to her final Flushing Meadows campaign on Monday night, getting the better of Montenegrin Danka Kovinic.

A 6-3 6-3 first-round win over the world number 80 prompted Williams to break out in a jig of delight, and now world number two Anett Kontaveit awaits the great American in round two.

Williams will returns to Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday evening, when she is certain of another big reception and overwhelming support.

Kovinic's best winners barely received a smattering of applause, while her mistakes were often cheered by some in the crowd.

The crowd's partisanship could again come into play when 23-time grand slam singles champion Williams, who is planning on retiring after this tournament, tackles a tough task against Kontaveit.

Swiatek watched the opening games on Monday and remarked that she had "got tight just by watching", feeling all the strain Williams was under.

"So I realised that I need to stop," said a smiling Swiatek. "I can't imagine what she must feel, having this kind of atmosphere around her and just finishing.

"I know she's doing a tournament, but I feel like yesterday it was like people did so much work to show appreciation to what she's done. It's pretty amazing. I have never seen something like it.

"For sure it was like the most popular first round of a slam ever. I'm pretty happy that she can experience something like that. I also feel that not every player would handle that kind of fuss around your first match of the tournament.

"She's handling it pretty well, as usual. So that's just confirmation of how great she is."

Williams came onto the court in a glittery tennis dress and cape, along with jewel-encrusted tennis shoes, with Swiatek describing the outfit as "pretty cool".

With two grand slam titles to her name, the 21-year-old Swiatek is among the favourites to be champion in New York.

When she watched the fanfare and ceremony for Williams, along with the first couple of games, it brought it home to Swiatek just why many regard the 40-year-old as the GOAT – greatest of all time.

"It was kind of too much for me even watching that. I realise how she must feel, but she is kind of used to it more than us," Swiatek said.

"We never had such attention around us, because she's just a GOAT. She has it probably for most of her career, so I guess she's used to it. But for me, just watching that, I was pretty shocked."

Swiatek refused to predict how the Kontaveit match would go. The Estonian is ranked second largely because of her strong run of form at the back end of last season, with recent results not so impressive or consistent.

"I feel like against Serena – I have never experienced that, so I just assume – it's all about your mindset and mentality," said French Open champion Swiatek, who beat Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-3 6-0 on Tuesday.

"I know Anett can play great tennis. It's not a mistake that she's second in the world right now. But on the other hand, I feel like Serena is looking better and better every day."

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