Ash Barty and Angelique Kerber set up a blockbuster Western and Southern Open semi-final – but Petra Kvitova suffered a fitness scare ahead of the US Open.

World number one Barty won 6-2 6-4 against French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who she also defeated in the fourth round during her Wimbledon title run last month.

Kerber and Kvitova then battled it out for the right to tackle Barty in the last four, but a quarter-final that was building momentum ended prematurely when two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova found a recent stomach problem too troublesome.

Kerber was 6-4 3-3 ahead in the contest, having recovered from being an early break down in the second set, getting her game together as 31-year-old Kvitova began to suffer.

During an injury timeout, which Kvitova called after the fifth game of the second set, the Czech received a massage to her abdominal region and played on briefly, before walking up to the net to concede the match.

It remains to be seen whether the setback in Cincinnati might have consequences for her involvement at Flushing Meadows, with the US Open due to begin on August 30.

Kvitova wrote on Twitter minutes after coming off court: "I stayed out there as long as I could. I have been struggling with a stomach issue for several days and unfortunately couldn't finish the match today. Good luck Angie - sorry to end it that way - and can't wait for the next battle with you."

Kerber said in an on-court interview: "Of course, this is not the way you would want to win the match. I hope Petra will recover as fast as possible and be ready for the US Open.

"I know she's a big fighter and fights until the last points, so I hope she is not too bad and hope she is fine really, really soon."

Kerber has now won 14 of her last 15 matches, with the exception being her Wimbledon semi-final defeat to Barty.

Barty got through in a more routine manner on Friday, albeit having to battle from a break down in the second set against the fast-rising Krejcikova, who has shot up from 65th in the world to a career high of number 10 this year.

Barty said: "Barbora served exceptionally well early in that second set and was able to take advantage of a service game of mine where I just hit too many second serves.

"I wanted to try and get a little bit more positive on her service games and then try to get myself in the points a little bit more. I'm happy to run away with that one in the end."

Petra Kvitova was one of a handful of seeded players to take the court at the Western and Southern Open on Monday and came away victorious against a past champion of the event. 

The 11th-seeded Kvitova defeated 2019 Western and Southern winner Madison Keys 7-5 6-4 on a rain-plagued opening day of main-draw play at the tournament outside Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The Czech saved eight of nine break points against her serve while breaking Keys three times, and that was enough to pull out the victory. 

Kvitova's countrywoman Barbora Krejcikova, the ninth seed, made her singles debut at the WTA 1000 event with a 6-3 6-2 rout of Daria Kasatkina. 

Fifteenth seed Elise Mertens also was a straight-sets winner, taking down Nadia Podoroska 6-3 6-4, while 13th seed Jennifer Brady defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in a match that finished shortly before 1 a.m. local time.

Though only Krejcikova was in action Monday, the field in Cincinnati includes nine of the top 10 players in the rankings, led by Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka in their first appearances since the Tokyo Olympics. 

In other matches on the first day of play, Heather Watson defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 3-6 6-1, while Paula Badosa outlasted Petra Martic 4-6 6-4 7-6 (11-9) in a two-hour, 34-minute marathon. 

Yulia Putintseva breezed past Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-0, Jelena Ostapenko beat Tamara Zidansek 7-5 6-1 and Jil Teichmann downed Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-0. 

Angelique Kerber beat Maria Sakkari 6-2 6-2, with Alison Riske matching that scoreline in a defeat of Leylah Fernandez.

Shelby Rogers won 6-4 2-1 when her countrywoman Danielle Collins retired with an injury. 

Angelique Kerber will not be going for gold for Germany at the Tokyo Olympics, with the three-time grand slam winner withdrawing on Thursday.

One week on from losing to Ash Barty in the Wimbledon semi-finals, Kerber said it was "disappointing" to pull out of the Games.

The former Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open champion said in a statement: "The thought of participating at the Olympics has been a constant motivation for me over the past months to push further and keep believing in my goals.

"Representing Germany in London 2012 and Rio 2016 as part of the German team has always been one of my favourite memories of my career so far.

"This makes it even more disappointing for me to accept the fact that my body needs rest after the intense few weeks that lie behind me and that I have to recover first before returning to competition later this summer!

"Thank you for your support, as this has been a very difficult decision for me. Good luck to all my fellow German athletes in Tokyo #TeamDeutschland, I will miss you."

 

Kerber reached the Olympic final in Rio in 2016 but suffered a shock defeat in the title match to Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, having to settle for the silver medal.

Her absence this year means the field is further depleted, with Serena Williams, Bianca Andreescu, Simona Halep and Sofia Kenin among the high-profile WTA Tour stars who will be absent in Japan. Puig will also miss out after undergoing shoulder surgery.

The men's line-up has been similarly hit, with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem choosing not to play.

Ash Barty gave Australia a first Wimbledon women's singles finalist since 1980 as she fended off former champion Angelique Kerber.

The first women's top seed to reach a semi-final at Wimbledon since Serena Williams in 2016, Barty needed to be at her sharpest to win 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in Thursday's Centre Court contest.

On Saturday, the 2011 girls' champion can look to join compatriots Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong on the list of those who have lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish.

Goolagong, who saw off Chris Evert in the 1980 final, was the last Australian woman to reach the title match, although Pat Cash in 1987 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2002 have delivered triumphs in the men's event since then.

Barty set the tone for the first set against Kerber when she read the direction of a smash and rattled back a forehand passing winner down the line to earn an early break.

The second set was far more nip and tuck, Kerber seemingly in charge at 5-2 against a ruffled opponent, but back came the world number one, snatching the break back in grand style with a whipped forehand across court.

Entering the tie-break, the set and the match hung in the balance, but Barty bossed it, winning the opening six points and surviving a minor wobble to get the job done, Kerber crashing a backhand into the net on the fourth match point.

 

Barty, smiling at courtside, said: "This is incredible. This is close to as good a tennis match as I'll ever play. Angie definitely brought the best out of me today. It was a hell of a match right from the first ball.

"I'm incredibly proud of myself and my team and now we get a chance on Saturday to try to live out a childhood dream.

"I've had an incredible journey. I've had ups and downs and everything in-between and I wouldn't change one day or one moment.

"It's been unique, it's been incredible, it's been tough. There have been so many things that have led to this point and I certainly wouldn't change one thing about it.

"I'm enjoying every single day. Being able to play on the final Saturday here at Wimbledon is going to be just the best experience ever."

Data Slam: For-lawn hope of grass expert Kerber as Barty comes through

Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, took out a player with the third highest number of grass-court wins among active tour players. Kerber has 80, behind only Serena Williams (107) and Venus Williams (97), but Barty says grass is her own favourite surface and that showed. She had 38 winners and rammed down eight aces to take her tour-leading 2021 total to 255.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Barty – 38/16
Kerber – 16/23

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Barty – 8/4
Kerber – 0/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Barty – 2/5
Kerber – 1/6

Ash Barty set up a mouth-watering Wimbledon semi-final against Angelique Kerber by scoring a crushing win over Ajla Tomljanovic on Centre Court.

In the first all-Australian quarter-final at a grand slam since 1980, when Evonne Goolagong beat Wendy Turnbull at Wimbledon, Barty inflicted a 6-1 6-3 demolition in an hour and six minutes.

She is favourite for this title, looking to join compatriots Goolagong and Margaret Court by landing the Venus Rosewater Dish, and delivered a demonstration of dazzling grass-court tennis as Tomljanovic suffered.

Ten years have passed since Barty won the girls' title at Wimbledon, and at senior level her best performance until this fortnight was a fourth-round run two years ago.

Now though, the world number one looks in great shape to take the title on her favourite surface, and add to her tour-leading three titles in 2021, having previously won the Yarra Valley Classic, followed by Miami and Stuttgart.

From 6-1 4-1, there was a slight dip from Barty that gave world number 75 Tomljanovic some hope, but that was soon crushed, the top seed regaining authority with her ground shots and scoring another break before serving out, finishing with an ace.

"It's exciting. She was always going to bring out the very best in me," Barty said. "This is a dream come true, genuinely it is. This is my dream and I'm extremely grateful I've got an opportunity to come out here and have fun and live out what I worked so hard to do. I'm enjoying every minute."

Barty is bidding to become just the fourth women in the Open Era to follow up a junior title by becoming the women's singles champion at Wimbledon, after Ann Jones, Martina Hingis and Amelie Mauresmo.

Facing 2018 Wimbledon champion Kerber on Thursday will be the toughest examination yet of Barty's credentials to achieve that rare double.

"It's the ultimate test. Angie's obviously had success here before and had the best fortnight here possible," Barty said in her on-court interview.

"I love that match-up, I love playing Angie. She's an incredible competitor and knows her way around this court. I hope I can play well and give myself a chance and play a good match."

Data Slam: 

Since 1968, the women's top seed at Wimbledon has gone on to be champion 24 times and runner-up on eight occasions. By reaching the final four, Barty has guaranteed she will stay at number one in the WTA rankings, whatever the result of the Kerber showdown.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Barty – 23/22
Tomljanovic – 5/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Barty – 5/4
Tomljanovic – 2/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Barty – 6/11
Tomljanovic – 2/4

The in-form Angelique Kerber excelled again at Wimbledon, defeating Karolina Muchova in straight sets to return to a major semi-final for the first time since her 2018 All England Club title.

Kerber is a three-time grand slam champion but had been badly out of sorts before returning to the grass courts this season.

First-round exits at both the Australian Open and the French Open were quickly forgotten as she claimed silverware on the WTA Tour for the first time in almost three years at the Bad Homburg Open, however.

And Kerber's latest victory in SW19 – 6-2 6-3 against Muchova in an hour and 15 minutes – extended her winning run to 10 matches, now within two of a second Wimbledon crown.

The German's experience had told as she outclassed Coco Gauff on Monday and she started in the same fashion, swiftly breaking to seize control of the opener.

Kerber was comfortable thereafter until a miscued volley teed up Muchova's first break-point opportunity. She recovered, though, a gorgeous dropshot securing a vital hold.

Muchova appeared to lose confidence at that point and the set was wrapped up as she was broken to love, her double fault followed by an effort that clipped the net and bounced wide.

Kerber's first setback followed early in the second – a backhand wide after saving the first of three break points – yet Muchova then again bowed to pressure, firing long as she attempted to accelerate a tense rally.

As the momentum swung back in Kerber's favour, she showed no signs of relenting, preying on another wild Muchova error as she outmanoeuvred the 24-year-old to create an open court and break once more.

Muchova fought to forge an opening as Kerber served for the match but could not capitalise and paid again for an aggressive approach, stepping forward and blazing wide to settle the result.

Data Slam: Kerber calm and in command

Kerber's early break piled the pressure on Muchova and her attempts to battle back only did more damage. The Czech attempted four approach shots – to Kerber's none – as she sought to go on the offensive, but all four missed the target.

Consider her only double fault in the entire match teed up set point in the opener and Muchova might wonder if this was just not her day.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Kerber – 15/21
Muchova – 9/27

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Kerber – 1/4
Muchova – 1/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Kerber – 4/6
Muchova – 1/8

Coco Gauff can contend at Wimbledon in the future even if she fell well short of besting Angelique Kerber, the former champion said.

Gauff, still just 17, has gone from strength to strength since her main-draw major debut at the All England Club in 2019.

But after reaching the quarter-finals at the French Open this year, she could not follow suit on the grass in London – bowing out in the fourth round, just as she did two years ago.

The serving woes that have dogged Gauff previously contributed heavily to her elimination.

The American teenager landed just 56 per cent of her 62 first serves in and won the point from only 20 of those 35 successful efforts (57 per cent).

Kerber – the 2018 champion – was far less erratic and capitalised on four of five break point opportunities, saving four of six going the other way.

"Coco is such a great, talented young player," Kerber said after a comfortable 6-4 6-4 triumph in an hour and 16 minutes on Centre Court.

"She's for sure a newcomer with such a great future in front of her, so I'm really sure that she will have a great career and for sure she will play here so many times again and maybe one time she will get the title.

"I like how she's playing, how she's professional, and I think she has a great future in front of her."

Kerber has struggled for consistent form since winning the third of her grand slam singles titles at Wimbledon three years ago, but she always enjoys playing on grass.

Victory at the Bad Homburg Open heading into this tournament was her first since celebrating at the All England Club.

It was Kerber's seventh WTA Tour final on grass, with only four players – Serena Williams (12) and Venus Williams (nine) involved in more since the turn of the century.

"I really enjoy my time here," Kerber added. "It's so great to play in front of you guys again – that gives me the energy to play my best tennis.

"I'm really looking forward to playing my next match because this is such a magic place for me and I will try to do my best."

The in-form German is the last remaining former champion in the women's tournament and plays Karolina Muchova next.

"I'm not looking too much ahead," Kerber said. "I just try to stay in the moment and enjoy every single moment here."

Angelique Kerber defeated Katerina Siniakova in straight sets on Saturday to win the inaugural Bad Homburg Open and end her three-year wait for a title.

The number four seed, whose last tournament triumph was at Wimbledon in 2018, prevailed 6-3 6-2 on home soil in a time of one hour and 25 minutes for her 13th career WTA singles crown. 

Kerber overcame Amanda Anisimova and top seed Petra Kvitova on Friday to reach her first final in two years but took time to get going against Siniakova, who won her only two career titles in 2017.

Siniakova broke Kerber's serve in the third game, only for the German to quickly respond by taking the next game as the pair continued to exchange blows.

World number 28 Kerber slowly found her rhythm and opened up a two-game lead at 5-3, but she had to save three break points before Siniakova fired into the net to concede the opening set.

The second set played out in a similar manner to begin with as Siniakova battled back after losing serve in the first game to level at 2-2 against her former world number one opponent.

But Kerber showed her quality by reeling off four games in a row and getting over the line with her third match point to add to her trophy collection.

The victory for the 33-year-old was her 75th on grass, which is the third most among active players behind Serena and Venus Williams.

Kerber is seeded 25th for Wimbledon and will face Nina Stojanovic in the first round next week.

"Everyone knows that I love to play on grass, I really feel well," she said in her on-court interview. 

"I had some great matches. The goal was to have some good matches to prepare for Wimbledon. Let's see and hope I can continue this next week."

Angelique Kerber won two games on Friday to progress to the final of the inaugural Bad Homburg Open, with unseeded Katerina Siniakova her opponent.

Kerber made home advantage count, following up a 2-6 6-3 6-3 quarter-final win over Amanda Anisimova – a match that was pushed back from Thursday when rain washed out play – with a triumph over top seed Petra Kvitova.

The former world number one came back from behind to win 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) and take a spot in her first WTA singles final since 2019.

Kerber and Kvitova have now met 15 times, with the German winning on nine occasions.

She will go up against an unexpected finalist in the form of Siniakova, who defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The Czech is the world number two in doubles, winning three grand slam titles in that format, and will be looking to replicate the feat of her regular partner Barbora Krejcikova, who triumphed at the French Open this year.

At the Viking International in Eastbourne, Jelena Ostapenko made light work of Elena Rybakina, while Anett Kontaveit made it into the final due to Camila Giorgi's retirement.

Latvian wildcard Ostapenko finished her 6-4 6-1 victory with zero double faults – the first time she has managed such a performance since winning in Luxembourg two years ago.

"I'm really happy with the way I played this week, and every match I played better and better," Ostapenko told a news conference after clinching a spot in her ninth career final.

"It's been a while [since making a] final, so I'm really happy to be in a final and looking forward to tomorrow's match."

The 2017 French Open champion will face Estonia's Kontaveit, who has won their previous two meetings and was 5-4 up in the opening set against Giorgi when her opponent retired hurt.

"It's actually nice to have a Baltic final, because [we're] not such big countries, but we still have good players," Ostapenko added.

"Anett, I know since juniors. We have been playing a lot, maybe not so many matches but we practice sometimes together, in juniors, and played even doubles. So I know her quite well."

Second seed Elina Svitolina crashed out of the Viking International in Eastbourne at the last-16 stage on Wednesday with a straight sets defeat to Elena Rybakina.

The world number five lost 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to 21st-ranked Rybakina, whose reward is a meeting with Coco Gauff's conqueror Anastasija Sevastova in the quarter-finals.

Third seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada also lost in straight sets, Anett Kontaveit of Estonia beating her 6-3 6-3.

And it was the same story for fourth seed Iga Swiatek, though she at least took a set as she was beaten by Daria Kasatkina.

It took an impressive rally from Russia's Kasatkina to bounce back from losing the first en route to a 4-6 6-0 6-1 success.

She will now face Jelena Ostapenko, who beat Ons Jabeur 5-7 6-4 6-3.

In fact, top seed Aryna Sabalenka was the only seed to avoid a surprise exit on Wednesday as she cruised through.

The Belarussian, ranked fourth in the world, beat Alison Riske 6-1 6-4 in just over an hour to set up a clash with Camila Giorgi.

Giorgi had earlier followed up a win over defending champion Karolina Pliskova in the last round by beating Shelby Rogers 6-3 4-6 6-2.

There was no such string of shocks at Wednesday's other WTA event, the Bad Homburg Open in Germany, though first and second seeds Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka needed three sets to progress.

Kvitova lost a second-set tie-break as she beat Ann Li 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 to reach the quarters, while Azarenka defeated Alize Cornet 6-4 3-6 7-6 (9-7).

Angelique Kerber, the fourth seed, progressed more smoothly, earning a comfortable 6-0 6-2 win over Russia's Anna Blinkova.

And Nadia Podoroska saw off the challenge of Patricia Maria Tig, winning 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-4.

Petra Kvitova came from a set down to beat Katarzyna Piter on her return from injury at the Bad Homburg Open, while no play was possible in Eastbourne on Monday due to rain.

Kvitova withdrew from the French Open after suffering a freak ankle injury during her post-match media duties at Roland Garros.

The two-time Wimbledon champion recovered to get her grass-court season under way in Germany and battled to a 4-6 6-1 6-4 over Polish outsider Piter.

A week before the third grand slam of the year gets started at the All England Club, top seed Kvitova trailed 2-0 in the final set as she struggled with her serve, but broke three times to book a second-round meeting with Ann Li.

Sloane Stephens withdrew ahead of her scheduled match with Laura Siegemund due to a foot injury. Riya Bhatia stepped in with Stephens absent, but Siegemund consigned her to a 2-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-1 defeat.

Angelique Kerber needed only 50 minutes to see the back of Ekaterina Yashina 6-1 6-1 on home soil, grasping all five break-point opportunities.

Kerber will do battle with Anna Blinkova in round two and Jessie Pegula's next assignment is an encounter with Katerina Siniakova following a 6-1 6-2 defeat of Amandine Hesse.

Blinkova beat Clara Tauson 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-2, while Sara Sorribes Tormo saw off Martina Trevisan 6-4 3-6 6-2

Miserable weather in Eastbourne prevented Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys, Bianca Andreescu and Madison Keys from playing at the Viking International.

Jessica Pegula got the better of Karolina Pliskova once again as she knocked the fourth seed out of the bett1open on Thursday.

The American beat the former world number one 7-5 6-2 in Berlin, setting up a quarter-final clash with Victoria Azarenka.

It is the fourth time this season Pegula has defeated Pliskova.

Azarenka was also a straight-sets winner, overcoming Angelique Kerber in a battling 6-3 7-5 victory.

The two-time Australian Open champion was 4-1 down in the second set but roared back to prevail over Kerber for the 10th time in 11 matches.

Garbine Muguruza enjoyed a 6-4 6-3 victory over Elena Rybakina and will take on Alize Cornet next, while Ludmilla Samsonova downed Veronika Kudermetova by the same scoreline and will now face Madison Keys.

Garbine Muguruza, Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber all sailed through at the bett1 Open on Tuesday as eighth seed Karolina Muchova crashed out in the first round.

The three former world number ones each made relatively light work of their opening clashes in Berlin, with Muguruza seeing off Sorana Cirstea 6-3 6-2.

Muguruza, the 2017 Wimbledon champion, expressed satisfaction with her performance on a return to the grass courts, with that part of the season wiped out in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Very pleased," Muguruza said on court after going 24-8 on the season.

"You never know how it's going to go in the first match, especially on grass after two years, so I'm very excited to win in two sets against Sorana.

"We've played many times, and it's always difficult."

She will next face Elena Rybakina who, after beating Serena Williams en route to the French Open quarter-finals, came from a set down to see off Shelby Rogers.

Azarenka was a 6-4 7-6 (7-2) winner over Andrea Petkovic, and the two-time Australian Open champion will now face Kerber for a place in the last eight.

Kerber routed Misaki Doi 6-2 6-1 in a match that lasted only an hour but has lost nine of her previous 10 meetings with Azarenka.

The 2018 Wimbledon champion said: "I will try to play my game, and try to take another chance, and play as many matches as I can before I go to Wimbledon.

"It's another good match at a high level, and this is why I'm here. The draw is really strong, so it's good to have another good match."

Muchova, though, fell at the first hurdle. The Czech suffered an upset in the third round of the French Open at the hands of Sloane Stephens and lost in three sets in the German capital to Veronika Kudermetova after two hours and 27 minutes.

Elsewhere in the draw, there were wins for Petra Martic, Liudmila Samsonova and Jessica Pegula, whose opponent Hailey Baptiste retired in the first set.

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