Ekaterina Alexandrova beat top seed Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets in The Rosmalen Grass Court Championship final on Sunday to claim her second career title. 

The world number 30 prevailed 7-5 6-0 against a below-par Sabalenka in just 77 minutes to add to her Shenzhen Open triumph from January 2020.

Sabalenka was seeking an 11th singles title and looked value to do so after cruising into the final in 's-Hertogenbosch, but she was outclassed by Alexandrova.

The pair had dropped just one set apiece in their four matches en route to the final, which went the way of the serve until the sixth game when Sabalenka broke her opponent.

However, she was unable to build on that advantage as Alexandrova hit back in the following game and broke the Belarusian again in the 11th to serve out the opener.

In the first meeting between the pair on grass, Alexandrova completely dominated the second set as she broke all three of Sabalenka's service games in a ruthless showing.

The 27-year-old, who had lost two of her previous three finals, took her second match point to complete the job in a stress-free manner.

Aryna Sabalenka will meet Ekaterina Alexandrova in The Rosmalen Grass Court Championship final, while Beatriz Haddad Maia set up a showdown with Alison Riske in the Nottingham Open showpiece.

Sabalenka, ranked sixth in the world, put paid to Shelby Rogers 7-6 (8-6) 6-0, as the favourite in the Netherlands reached her second singles final this year.

World number 30 Alexandrova had little difficulty against Veronika Kudermetova as she triumphed 6-3 6-1 to reach her first singles final of the season.

Sabalenka and Alexandrova have split four previous meetings with two wins apiece, with the latter taking the most recent clash in straight sets at the Moscow quarter-finals last year.

Seventh seed Haddad Maia stunned favourite Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals to tee up the last-four clash with Tereza Martincova in Nottingham.

The Brazilian raced out the blocks once more to progress past Martincova, with the former 6-3 4-1 up before the Czech retired with injury.

Rain stopped play in the second semi-final between Viktorija Golubic and Riske with the scores level at one set each.

Sixth seed Riske capitalised from that point onwards to edge past Golubic 6-3 4-6 6-3.

Top seed Maria Sakkari was eliminated from the Nottingham Open at the quarter-final stage by world number 48 Beatriz Haddad Maia on Friday.

Haddad Maia made it three career wins out of three against Sakkari with a 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory to reach her first WTA semi-final on grass.

The Brazilian will now take on Tereza Martincova, who beat last year's runner-up Zhang Shuai 6-3 6-2, for a place in Sunday's final.

Sixth seed Alison Riske is also through to the last four after recovering from a set down to beat home favourite Harriet Dart 4-6 6-2 6-1.

Riske's sixth career semi-final on grass will come against Viktorija Golubic, who surprised Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in the final match of the day.

At The Rosmalen Grass Court Championships, second seed Belinda Bencic's participation was ended with a straight-sets defeat to Veronika Kudermetova.

French Open quarter-finalist Kudermetova prevailed 6-4 6-2 in 87 minutes to snap a three-match losing streak against Bencic.

Russian compatriot Ekaterina Alexandrova is up next in the semi-finals after easing past American qualifier Caty McNally 6-0 6-1

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka is into her third semi-final in her past five tournaments, meanwhile, thanks to a 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-5) win over Alison Van Uytvanck.

Shelby Rogers, a 3-6 6-1 6-4 winner against Kirsten Flipkens, awaits Sabalenka in Saturday's semi-final.

Elena Rybakina and Tamara Zidansek were both surprise second-round losers at The Rosmalen Grass Court Championships as numerous top seeds fell on Thursday.

Third favourite Rybakina struggled to find her rhythm and fell to a 6-2 6-4 loss against world number 42 Shelby Rogers.

The American will face Kirsten Flipkens in the quarter-finals in the Netherlands after she eased past Ann Li in straight sets.

Aryna Sabalenka, the favourite at the tournament, had little difficulty in negotiating past Arianne Hartono 6-2 6-3 and she will meet Alison van Uytvanck in the next round.

The Belgian picked up the scalp of compatriot Elise Mertens, the eighth seed, with a 6-2 6-3 win over the world number 29.

Fourth seed Zidansek was another to fall as she suffered a 6-1 6-1 loss to Catherine McNally, while Veronika Kudermetova profited from Anna Blinkova retiring with the match heading for one set each.

Belinda Bencic, the second favourite, will next challenge Kudermetova after she bucked the trend of the day with a battling 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 win over Anna Kalinskaya.

Seventh seed Ekaterina Alexandrova had no trouble in advancing, meanwhile, as she saw off Anhelina Kalinina 6-4 6-2.

Maria Sakkari found herself 1-0 down against world number 109 Rebecca Marino before rain stopped play at the Nottingham Open, but the top seed responded to claim a 1-6 6-3 6-3 win.

Third seed Camila Giorgi had no such luck against Hannah Dart as she was eliminated 5-7 6-4 7-6 (7-3), while Alison Riske and Ajla Tomljanovic beat Caroline Garcia and Katie Boulter respectively in straight sets.

Number four seed Shuai Zhang made it through to the quarter-finals of the Nottingham Open after a straight-sets win over home hope Jodie Burrage.

Zhang was never in danger against her unseeded opponent, easing to a 6-2 7-6 (7-4) win to set up a last-eight clash with Tereza Martincova.

Martincova brushed aside number eight seed Magda Linette 6-2 7-6 (7-3) in their round-of-16 meeting on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Viktorija Golubic beat Heather Watson 7-5 6-2, while the match between number three seed Camila Giorgi and Harriet Dart was suspended at the start of the third set after the Briton had made it one set each. 

Meanwhile, rain caused havoc at the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships, with top seed Aryna Sabalenka's match against Arianne Hartono the only one to partially take place.

The match was called off for the day after Sabalenka had claimed the first set 6-2.

Emma Raducanu has "no idea" if she will be fit for Wimbledon after retiring from her first-round match against Viktorija Golubic at the Nottingham Open on Tuesday. 

Second seed Raducanu conceded the match after 36 minutes having sustained an injury to her left side while down a break at 4-3 in the opening set. 

The 19-year-old is scheduled to appear at Birmingham next week before heading to Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round last year. 

US Open champion Raducanu, who made her WTA Tour debut in Nottingham last year, is unsure if she will recover in time to feature at the All England Club. 

"I think I pulled something, I am not really sure what exactly happened," Raducanu said. 

"I have just come off court, an absolute freak injury. I don't know what I could have done more about it. That is it. 

"I have no idea [about Wimbledon]. It could have just seized up and gone into spasm and then it is really bad for a few days. I have no idea. I cannot diagnose myself. I will get it checked out." 

Raducanu was the only seed to exit the tournament, with top seed Maria Sakkari overcoming Camila Osorio 6-2 6-3 to advance to a second-round meeting with Rebecca Marino. 

Beatriz Haddad Maia came from a set down to beat Wang Qiang 5-7 6-4 6-3, while Ajla Tomljanovic and Camila Giorgi had comfortable victories against Wang Xinyu and Sonay Kartal respectively. 

Aryna Sabalenka cruised into the second round of the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships by defeating Kateryna Baindl 6-4 6-1. 

Fifth seed Liudmila Samsonova, meanwhile, succumbed to a 6-3 6-4 loss to Ann Li in an hour and 22 minutes. 

There would have been further casualties among the seeds had Tamara Zidansek, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Elise Mertens not fought from a set down to win their opening matches. 

Tereza Martincova got off to a winning start at the Nottingham Open, where there were three British winners on home soil on Monday.

World number 60 Martincova recorded a 7-6 (7-1) 7-5 triumph over France's Oceane Dodin to ease into the second round in Nottingham.

Heather Watson, ranked 102nd in the world, had no problems as she eased past Katie Volynets 6-4 6-2, and fellow Briton Hannah Dart followed suit by defeating Donna Vekic 6-4 6-3.

Jodie Burrage completed the first-round sweep for British women, downing Lin Zhu 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

At the Rosmalen Grass Court Championship, top seed Aryna Sabalenka was due to face Kateryna Baindl but bad weather curtailed the day's play early.

Earlier on, Anna Kalinskaya edged out Suzan Lamens 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in the first round, while Catherine McNally, Storm Sanders, Olivia Gadecki and Jamie Loeb were all triumphant in qualifying.

Novak Djokovic returns to the grand slam arena, Carlos Alcaraz is threatening to follow in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, and Iga Swiatek is suddenly unstoppable.

The French Open is rich in promise as the Roland Garros clay courts are swept in anticipation of the greats of tennis stepping out to begin their campaigns.

It has been the women's draw that has looked the most wide open in recent seasons, yet this year it is hard to look beyond Swiatek; however, the men's title battle promises to provide a sensational battle.

Here, Stats Perform assesses the contenders for the two main trophies: the Coupe des Mousquetaires and the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.


KID INTERRUPTS G.O.A.T. RACE

Nadal took full advantage of Djokovic and Roger Federer being absent from the Australian Open, carrying off his 21st grand slam title to go top of the men's all-time list, one ahead of those two great rivals.

Federer is again missing, rehabbing after knee surgery, and the likelihood is he has played his final major already, but Djokovic is emphatically back. His confidence is surging once more, having taken a knock amid the drama of his deportation from Australia in January and being frozen out of the Indian Wells and Miami events due to the United States' COVID-19 rules.

A semi-final run in Madrid, where he lost a three-set monster to Alcaraz, was followed by Djokovic carrying off the Rome title for a sixth time when he saw off Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Djokovic turns 35 on Sunday, as main-draw action gets under way in Paris, but he is the defending champion and firmly believes he can succeed again.

Assessing his prospects for Paris, Djokovic said after his Rome triumph: "With rankings and the way I've been playing in the last few weeks, I would rate myself as one of the favourites. I don't obviously spend too much time thinking who's going to win it or who might have the best chance. I always think about myself.

"I go there with the highest ambitions. I really like my chances. Best-of-five, you play every second day. It's a grand slam. It's different. Really, the grand slams are played different. You have to approach it differently. But the way I've been feeling on the court and off the court in the last few weeks, I really think I can go far."

The chief threat to Djokovic could come not from 'King of Clay' Nadal, but from the 13-time champion's fellow Spaniard, 19-year-old Alcaraz.

Bidding to become the first teenage winner of the men's title since Nadal, also 19, triumphed for the first time in 2005, Alcaraz arrives in Paris with four titles already secured this year, including three on clay in Rio, Barcelona and Madrid. The other title came on hardcourt at the Masters 1000 event in Miami, and Alcaraz has rocketed from 32nd at the start of the year to number six in the world rankings.

Many expect his grand slam haul to reach double digits, just like the Big Three he has grown up watching and learning from. The first slam must come somewhere, and it might well come in Paris in a fortnight's time.

Don't discount Nadal, but his form has been a shade unconvincing since coming back from a rib injury, while Tsitsipas looks the next most likely after winning on clay in Monte Carlo and finishing runner-up to Djokovic in Rome. The Greek has unfinished business in Paris, after the heartache of losing last year's final from two sets up.

 

IGA TO PLEASE? POLE GOES FROM SHOCK WINNER TO FIRM FAVOURITE

The first thing to point out is that the French Open women's singles title has been won by eight different players in the last eight years.

Iga Swiatek was a surprise champion in 2020, at the tournament that was delayed until the Paris autumn due to the pandemic. She was ousted by Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals last year but returns on a roll, having won an incredible five consecutive tournaments.

The 20-year-old has won 38 of the last 39 sets she has contested, the odd one out going against her on a tie-break, and her winning streak has reached 28 matches. Since Ash Barty retired, nobody has been able to lay much of a glove on Swiatek.

If she wins the French Open, that run will reach 35 matches, equalling the longest run in the 2000s, previously achieved by Venus Williams during a glory run that saw her win events including Wimbledon, the Olympic Games and US Open in the year 2000.

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur has been spoken of as a possible challenger to Swiatek, but she was swatted away 6-2 6-2 by the youngster in the Rome final last weekend.

So who challenges the favourite? Even those who have been there and done that struggle to look beyond Swiatek. According to Martina Navratilova: "You can’t be any hotter than she is right now."

Navratilova told the WTA website: "She looks pretty unbeatable on any surface, particularly the clay now."

The last player to beat Swiatek was Jelena Ostapenko, in Dubai. Ostapenko, a surprise 2017 French Open champion, had a sizzling spell of form in February but has gone off the boil since. It might take someone of her hard-hitting nature to knock Swiatek out of her stride, though, so if Ostapenko can navigate the early rounds she becomes a real contender. The Latvian's career record against Swiatek? An impressive 3-0.

Who else? Simona Halep's coaching tie-up with Patrick Mouratoglou – Serena Williams' former coach of long-standing – has raised eyebrows and now it might be time for it to raise her results level too. Halep has won in Paris before, in 2018, so don't count her out.

Aryna Sabalenka, Sakkari, Paula Badosa. Such players come into the mix if Swiatek slips up, but there has been scant sign of that happening.

Iga Swiatek continued her remarkable winning run to reach the Internazionali d'Italia final as she defeated Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-1.

Top seed Swiatek extended to 26 matches unbeaten, dating back to mid-February, with victory over Bianca Andreescu to set up the last-four meeting with Sabalenka, who battled past Amanda Anisimova.

The pair exchanged opening breaks in a tentative start to the clash in the Italian capital before Sabalenka again failed to hold her serve as Pole Swiatek took an early 3-1 lead.

World number eight Sabalenka, the third seed in the tournament, offered little response as the in-form Swiatek then claimed the first set with ease.

Sabalenka was again caught cold and had no answer as world number one Swiatek raced out the blocks in the second set, breaking twice via marathon rallies, to gain a 4-0 lead.

Swiatek swiftly wrapped victory up, despite a short medical time out for her opponent, and has now won all three of her WTA Tour encounters with Sabalenka in 2022, conceding just 12 games in the process.

Meanwhile, in the last 25 years only Serena Williams in 2013, Kim Clijsters in 2003 and Martina Hingis in 1998 have reached the final in Rome with fewer games dropped than Iga Swiatek this season (17).

The 20-year-old Swiatek continues on her quest for a fourth straight WTA 1000 crown and fifth consecutive title and in the final will face either Ons Jabeur or Daria Kasatkina, who face off later on Saturday.

Iga Swiatek's superb form continued as she overcame another grand slam champion in the form of Bianca Andreescu to reach the last four of the Internazionali d'Italia.

Swiatek, who will be aiming to regain the French Open title she won in 2020 when she heads to Roland Garros later this month, has won 26 matches on the bounce after a 7-6 (7-2) 6-0 triumph over Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion.

The 20-year-old Pole has now won all nine of her matches since she became world number one following Ash Barty's retirement in March. 

That makes her part of an exclusive club, with only Justine Henin (in 2004) and Victoria Azarenka (in 2012) having achieved that feat in the 21st century.

Swiatek's winning streak also matches Azarenka's 2012 sequence as the fifth-longest this century. Henin and the two Williams sisters are the only players to have won more consecutive matches since the start of 2000.

"Being in that kind of group is like a dream come true for me," said Swiatek, who has won 38 of her past 39 sets since her fourth-round match at the Indian Wells Open.

"I wouldn't think of that when I was younger. I'm pretty happy that I could do that because consistency was the thing I really wanted to work on last year. This year I feel like it clicked."

The only player to have beaten Swiatek in a tour-level quarter-final to date is Maria Sakkari, at Roland Garros last year, but the Greek saw victory slip from her grasp against Ons Jabeur.

Sakkari led 6-1 5-2 against the Tunisian, yet Jabeur rallied remarkably to claim a first career win against a top-five opponent on clay, prevailing 1-6 7-5 6-1.

After winning the Madrid Open last week, Jabeur has now won 10 straight matches, while she has claimed 16 victories on clay in 2022, leading the way on the WTA Tour.

While Jabeur will face world number 23 Daria Kasatkina, whose opponent Jil Teichmann retired when 6-4 3-2 down, Swiatek will go up against third seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Amanda Anisimova had not lost to Sabalenka in four previous meetings over the past three years, but her luck ran out as she went down 4-6 6-3 6-2.

World number one Iga Swiatek beat Victoria Azarenka 6-4 6-1 to progress to the quarter-finals of the Internazionali d'Italia in Rome on Thursday. 

Swiatek, who became the first female player to win 25 consecutive matches since Serena Williams in 2015, will face Bianca Andreescu in the last eight after she eased past Petra Martic 6-4 6-4.

"I didn't start well, and everybody could see that," Swiatek told reporters. "I'm really happy with the way I reacted and how I improved in the first set.

"Also how different the second set looked to the first one because I could really reset and really change the way I played. That's the most positive thing for me."

There was a shock in the final game of the day, though, as Daria Kasatkina dumped out number two seed Paula Badosa 6-4 6-4. 

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka sealed a third straight win over Jessica Pegula, easing to a 6-1 6-4 victory, while fourth seed Maria Sakkari defeated Coco Gauff 6-4 7-5.

Seventh seed Danielle Collins was knocked out by unseeded compatriot Amanda Anisimova, the 20-year-old cruising past the Australian Open finalist 6-2 6-2.

There were also victories for Jil Teichmann, who overcame Elena Rybakina 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 7-5, and ninth seed Ons Jabeur, who beat Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-2.

Iga Swiatek and Paula Badosa progressed to the third round of the Internazionali d'Italia with ease as the former continued her impressive winning run on Wednesday.

Top seed Switaek, seeking a fifth consecutive title, breezed past Elena-Gabriela Ruse 6-3 6-0 as she became the first female player to win 24 consecutive matches since Serena Williams in 2015.

Badosa followed suit by dispatching Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 6-1 in just an hour and 17 minutes, teeing up a third-round clash with Daria Kasatkina, who beat Leylah Fernandez 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2).

Aryna Sabalenka, the third favourite in Italy, also made light work of Zhang Shuai to triumph 6-2 6-0, while fourth seed Maria Sakkari cruised past Madrid Open semi-finalist Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-2.

Sakkari will next face a Rome rematch with Coco Gauff, who defeated compatriot Madison Brengle 6-2 6-4. Teenager Gauff's sole win against Sakkari came at this tournament in the second round last year.

Yulia Putintseva came from behind to beat Garbine Muguruza 3-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-1, and will next meet Ons Jabeur, who made it eight successive main-draw wins by defeating Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5 6-2.

Seventh seed Danielle Collins also battled past former world number one Simona Halep 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

There was no such joy for fifth seed Anett Kontaveit as she crashed out to Petra Martic in straight sets, while Jil Teichmann upset former Rome champion Karolina Pliskova in a three-set thriller.

Belinda Bencic, who was ranked as 12th seed, was another early casualty as she fell to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 defeat against American Amanda Anisimova.

Meanwhile, Jessica Pegula secured her third-round spot after Anhelina Kalinina withdrew due to injury, with Victoria Azarenka earning a straightforward 6-2 6-4 victory over Camila Osorio to get a shot at favourite Swiatek in the next round.

Amanda Anisimova celebrated her fifth career top-10 win by beating Aryna Sabalenka again at the Madrid Open.

The 20-year-old American would have headed into Thursday's match-up full of confidence having also defeated the world number four in Charleston earlier this month.

And again Anisimova came out on top, this time at a tournament where Sabalenka was the defending champion.

Sabalenka is now 0-4 against Anisimova, losing three times on clay, with this the underdog's first ever victory in Madrid.

A 6-2 3-6 6-4 triumph was sealed in an hour and 55 minutes, with Anisimova relishing the opportunity to take on one of the sport's foremost stars once more.

"It's always enjoyable to accept the challenge, even when it's a tough match, and push yourself and see how far you can go," Anisimova said.

"I enjoy these matches, even though they're very tough – especially when you get to win them."

While Anisimova can look forward to facing Petra Martic in round two, hers was not the only upset win, with Karolina Pliskova and Jelena Ostapenko also ousted.

Pliskova lost in straight sets to fellow Czech Marie Bouzkova, as Ostapenko went down in three to Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Simona Halep and next opponent Paula Badosa both came through unscathed, though, as did Belinda Bencic, Coco Gauff and Ons Jabeur.

Jabeur's 11-9 first-set tie-break success against Jasmine Paolini was the closest any of that quintet came to dropping a set on day one.

World number one Iga Swiatek maintained her impressive form by seeing off Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets in Sunday's Stuttgart Open final to win a fourth straight WTA title.

Swiatek was made to work hard in Saturday's semi-final against Liudmila Samsonova as she dropped a rare set, but she was back to her imperious best against Sabalenka.

The 20-year-old prevailed 6-2 6-2 in 84 minutes to make it 23 victories in a row – only five other different players have enjoyed longer winning runs since 2000.

With her latest triumph in Germany, Swiatek has now won 30 WTA matches in 2022, compared to 36 in the whole of 2021.

She has won the Qatar Ladies Open, Indian Wells and Miami Open in straight succession, having also reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January.

 

Sabalenka, who eliminated Paula Badosa, Anett Kontaveit and Bianca Andreescu en route to the final, was the latest player to fall short in trying to stop the sublime Swiatek.

After saving a break point in the opening game, Swiatek held serve and broke her opponent in the next game before comfortably seeing out the first set.

The Pole never looked under serious threat in the second set as she took the last four games to down world number four Sabalenka, who lost to Ash Barty in this final last year.

At the Istanbul Cup, meanwhile, Anastasia Potapova beat Veronika Kudermetova 6-3 6-1 to clinch her maiden career title.

Qualifier Potapova recovered from a set down to beat Yulia Putintseva in Saturday's semi-final and was too strong for Kudermetova in what was her third career final.

Kudermetova broke Potapova early on and led 3-1 in the opening set, but the latter soon found her range and took advantage of some sloppy mistakes from her opponent.

After battling to victory in the first set, Potapova looked far more comfortable in the second as she produced a number of impressive shots en route to a breakthrough triumph.

Iga Swiatek had to come from a set down to book her place in the Stuttgart Open final with a hard-earned victory over Liudmila Samsonova.

The world number one produced a 22nd consecutive victory as she scraped a 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-5 win in a contest that lasted more than three hours.

The Pole will face third seed Aryna Sabalenka in Sunday's final on the German clay.

Swiatek broke early to race out to a 3-0 lead, but was pegged back by her Russian opponent, who fought hard to claim the first set on a tie-break.

The 20-year-old was looking to break the record of Serena Williams, equalling a feat of winning 28 sets in a row, but Samsonova prevented her from doing so.

It was the first time Swiatek had dropped a set since her Indian Wells Open last 16 match against Angelique Kerber in March, but she soon got back into her rhythm and clinched the second set 6-4.

She broke early again in the decider, but was once more broken back by a determined Samsonova, and Swiatek showed frustration with herself as she struggled to put away her opponent.

However, an unusually sloppy service game from Samsonova gave Swiatek another break in the 11th game of the set, which she closed out to seal her place in the final.

The other semi-final in Stuttgart saw Sabalenka overcome second seed Paula Badosa 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

There were 14 double faults (seven each) in the match, but it was Sabalenka's big serve that ultimately led her to victory, hitting nine aces and winning 76.9 per cent of points on her first serve.

The Belarusian also saved six of eight break points faced as she ultimately eased past her Spanish opponent.

At the Istanbul Cup, third seed Veronika Kudermetova will play Anastasia Potapova in the final after seeing off second seed Sorana Cirstea in straight sets, 6-3 6-3.

Potapova had earlier come from a set down to beat Yulia Putintseva 2-6 6-2 6-2 in the other semi-final.

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