Bianca Andreescu was denied her first WTA singles title since the 2019 US Open when Caroline Garcia fought back from behind to win a thrilling Bad Homburg Open final.

Garcia won her first WTA crown for three years by recovering to win a close encounter 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-4 on Saturday.

Andreescu went into the final as the strong favourite, a position she strengthened by narrowly claiming the first-set tie-break, but Garcia battled back to improve her impressive career record in finals to 8-3.

She claimed her first trophy since winning on the Nottingham grass in 2019, the same year as Andreescu's famous Flushing Meadows triumph.

Andreescu was playing in her sixth career showpiece, having enjoyed a standout week at the WTA 250 event. The Canadian did not drop a set en route to the final, which included beating top seed Daria Kasatkina.

But defeating the battling Garcia, who had saved a match point before beating fellow Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in the semi-finals, proved a step too far.

After winning three straight points to claim a tight tie-break, Andreescu was a break ahead at 4-2 in the second set before Garcia launched a strong comeback.

Andreescu was also a break up in the final set but Garcia – who broke five times throughout the contest - prevailed in two hours and 42 minutes.

With Wimbledon approaching, Andreescu was playing just her sixth tournament of the season following a six-month hiatus to look after her mental health that had followed a string of injuries over recent years.

Reigning Eastbourne International champion Jelena Ostapenko will go up against Petra Kvitova in 2022 Saturday's final.

Ostapenko won as a wildcard in 2021, and the world number 14 confirmed her place in this year's showdown by overcoming Camila Giorgi on Friday.

She is the first female player to reach back-to-back finals in Eastbourne since Caroline Wozniacki in 2017 and 2018.

The Latvian, who is also going to compete for the doubles title, prevailed 6-2 6-2 and will now go up against Kvitova. The pair have faced off eight times previously, with each player winning four matches.

It is Kvitova's first appearance in a final in 2022, with the former world number two – and two-time Wimbledon champion – having ended Beatriz Haddad Maia's winning streak.

Haddad Maia won in Birmingham last week and Nottingham the week before, but her run came to an end at 12 matches, with Kvitova triumphing 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

"For me, a final after almost a year [without one] will be great, so I’m glad already," said Kvitova, who was a runner-up at Eastbourne in 2011 and last reached a final on grass in Birmingham four years ago.

"Jelena loves to play here, obviously, we saw it, she has a really great game for grass."

Meanwhile, at the Bad Homburg Open, 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu reached her sixth career final courtesy of a walkover against Simona Halep.

The Romanian withdrew from the semi-final clash with a neck injury, which will worry the 2019 Wimbledon champion ahead of the season's third grand slam at the All England Club.

"I am sorry that I had to withdraw today before my semi-final match," Halep said in a statement.

"But unfortunately I woke up this morning with a blocked neck and this is not allowing me to perform to the best of my ability."

Andreescu will face Caroline Garcia, who saved a match point before going on to beat fellow Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 7-6 (11-9) 3-6 7-5 to reach an 11th tour-level showpiece.

Bianca Andreescu dismantled top seed Daria Kasatkina to reach the semi-finals of the Bad Homburg Open, while Beatriz Haddad Maia moved a step closer to a third straight title in Eastbourne. 

A resounding 6-4 6-1 win over Kasatkina saw Andreescu advance to the last four of a WTA Tour grass-court tournament for the first time. 

The last time she reached the semi-finals in any event was the 2021 Miami Open, where she finished as runner-up after retiring with an ankle injury in the second set of the final against Ash Barty. 

Andreescu limited Kasatkina to just 17.6 per cent of the points behind the Russian's second serve and saved four of the six break points she faced to book a meeting with Simona Halep. 

Former world number one Halep sent down 10 aces and converted all three of the break points that came her way in a 6-2 6-1 success over Amanda Anisimova. 

The other semi-final will be an all-French affair after Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia downed home hopes Angelique Kerber and Sabine Lisicki respectively. 

After going all the way in Nottingham and Birmingham this month, Haddad Maia progressed to the semi-finals of the Eastbourne International courtesy of a walkover against Lesia Tsurenko. 

Next up for Haddad Maia is Petra Kvitova, who she beat in straight sets in the first round in Birmingham, after the Czech ended Harriet Dart's run to the quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 win. 

Jelena Ostapenko cruised to a 6-3 6-2 victory against Anhelina Kalinina and will take on Camila Giorgi for a place in the final. Giorgi comfortably overcame lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova 6-2 6-1 in 64 minutes. 

Garbine Muguruza saw her Wimbledon preparations take a hit as she fell to a last-16 defeat at the Eastbourne International on Wednesday. 

World number 26 Camila Giorgi battled from a break down in both sets to beat fifth seed Muguruza 7-5 6-3 in an hour and 53 minutes. 

That meant 12th seed Giorgi made her second straight quarter-final, following a last-eight appearance in Birmingham, and will next face Viktoriya Tomova, who defeated Kirsten Flipkens 3-6 6-3 6-4. 

Jil Teichmann, the 10th seed at the tournament, was a notable second-round elimination, falling to a 7-6 (9-7) 4-6 6-3 defeat to Briton Harriet Dart, who later triumphed 6-4 2-6 6-4 over Marta Kostyuk. 

Dart's fellow Briton Katie Boulter stunned last year's Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova in the second round but had no such luck against Petra Kvitova, losing 5-7 6-0 7-5. 

Beatriz Haddad Maia, the winner at the Birmingham Open last week, extended to a 12-match winning streak with a 6-1 6-2 victory over Jodie Burrage. 

Jelena Ostapenko also progressed after Madison Keys retired when 6-3 down and will next face Anhelina Kalinina, who battled to a 6-3 2-6 6-3 win over 16th seed Yulia Putintseva. 

While seeds fell at Eastbourne, there were not as many shocks at the Bad Homburg Open, where Angelique Kerber defeated Lucia Bronzetti 6-2 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals. 

Fourth seed Simona Halep also made the last eight with 6-0 6-3 victory over Tamara Zidansek and will meet Amanda Anisimova after she won an All-American match against Ann Li 6-0 6-2. 

Alize Cornet downed Tatjana Maria 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 to tee up a clash with Kerber, while Bianca Andreescu will meet top seed Daria Kasatkina after defeating Katie Swan 6-4 6-4. 

Katie Boulter stunned last year's Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova at the Eastbourne International as the Briton secured the first top-10 scalp of her career.

Despite making a strong start, fourth seed Pliskova faltered and lost 1-6 6-4 6-4 to the world number 127 in the pair's last-32 match.

Boulter said: "I'm super-proud of myself today. I went out there and didn't feel great on court, and I worked so hard to battle and fight, and against a player like that it means so much to me, coming through that."

There was another major shock win for a British player later in the day as Jodie Burrage knocked out top seed Paula Badosa, the world number 169 triumphing 6-4 6-3 against a player who will be seeded fourth at Wimbledon.

Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko beat Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4 6-4 and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova saw off Donna Vekic 6-1 7-6 (7-1), while Beatriz Haddad Maia's strong form on grass continued with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory over Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.

Brazilian left-hander Haddad Maia is coming off the back of title wins in Nottingham and Birmingham and stretched her winning run on grass to 11 matches.

There were also wins in Eastbourne for Camila Giorgi, Madison Keys and Barbora Krejcikova, but Greek third seed Maria Sakkari bowed out, losing 3-6 7-5 6-4 to Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina.

At the Bad Homburg Open in Germany, the 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep scrambled for a 4-6 6-3 6-4 win against Katerina Siniakova, and sixth seed Amanda Anisimova came from a set down to see off Alison van Uytvanck in a third-set tie-break.

Bianca Andreescu saw off Martina Trevisan 6-3 6-1 and Angelique Kerber also won in straight sets, while top seed and recent French Open semi-finalist Daria Kasatkina reached the quarter-finals with a 6-1 3-6 6-1 win over Germany's Jule Niemeier.

Kasatkina will be absent from Wimbledon due to the ban on Russian players.

Simona Halep won her first match on grass since 2019 as she cruised past Lesia Tsurenko to reach the second round of the Birmingham Classic on Monday.

Halep's last grass-court match was the impressive 6-2 6-2 defeat of Serena Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final.

While Monday's triumph may not have been of comparable importance, the 6-1 6-4 win was a positive step in Halep's preparation for a return to SW19 later this month.

After saving three break points in the very first game, the former world number one rarely looked in trouble against her Ukrainian opponent, breaking Tsurenko's serve at the first opportunity.

She repeated the feat to go 5-1 up before serving to love to close out the set, though Tsurenko showed a bit more fight at the start of the second – only one of the first five service games was a hold.

Halep ultimately weathered the storm, however, taking her chance to go 5-4 up and once again served to love to wrap up the match.

Seeded second, Halep was the only seed in action on Monday and will meet home favourite Harriet Dart next, with the Brit impressively seeing off Camila Osorio – ranked 45 places better off – 6-2 6-0.

In Berlin, fourth and sixth seeds Karolina Pliskova and Daria Kasatkina secured their passage to the last 16.

Pliskova struggled initially against Kaia Kanepi but went on to produce two near-flawless sets to progress 6-7 (6-8) 6-0 6-0 – Kasatkina also came from behind, with an ankle injury to Anhelina Kalinina potentially aiding her 5-7 6-3 6-1 victory.

Bianca Andreescu was also among the winners in Berlin, with the Canadian beating Katerina Siniakova to claim only her second career success on grass.

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.

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.

Emma Raducanu retired from her first-round match with Bianca Andreescu at the Internazionali d'Italia because of a lower back injury.

The world number 12 was trailing 6-2 2-1 when calling time on the match against Andreescu in a highly anticipated showdown between two of the past three US Open winners.

Raducanu initially left the court for treatment ahead of the seventh game of the opening set for a medical timeout and completed just four more games.

Speaking after her withdrawal, coming two weeks before the French Open, Raducanu explained she did not want to aggravate an injury sustained at last week's Madrid Open.

"I thought maybe taking one, two days off, it would go away because a lot of the other small niggles I've had, they've kind of gone away after taking, like, two days off," she said.

"Then I got here and I was training, but it just didn't seem to get better. I was training with some limitations. I wasn't moving really.

"I was just playing where I knew where the ball was coming, just staying in one corner. I think I must have underestimated the unpredictability of competition in a match.

"The last few weeks have been really positive. I've learned a lot about myself and my game has definitely improved on this surface but I need to make sure my back is fully right.

"I need to just keep on it. I don't want to play my next match with a feeling of limitation because I think that I learned my lesson from this week, when to push, when not to push." 

Ons Jabeur joined Andreescu in the last 32 with a 6-0 7-6 (7-1) victory over Sorana Cirstea to keep her impressive run of form going.

The Tunisian won her first WTA 1000 title in Madrid last week and has now won seven successive main draw matches for the first time in her career

Elsewhere in Tuesday's action, American qualifier Lauren Davis pulled off a shock 6-2 6-3 win against number 11 seed Jelena Ostapenko.

Fellow Americans Jessica Pegula, Madison Brengle and Amanda Anisimova also advanced, beating Liudmila Samsonova, Marta Kostyuk and Tereza Martincova respectively.

Anisimova, who is now the player with the most wins in three sets so far in 2022 with nine, will face Belinda Bencic for a place in the last 16.

Emma Raducanu is "managing" a back problem ahead of her first-round Internazionali d'Italia clash with Bianca Andreescu.

The reigning US Open champion exited the Madrid Open at the last-16 stage, going down in three sets to Anhelina Kalinina after struggling with an injury which she admitted had been "taking its toll".

Raducanu said in the aftermath of that 6-2 2-6 6-4 defeat that she would only have given herself a "five per cent chance" of advancing after suffering the injury, and expressed doubt over her ability to compete in Rome.

However, the 19-year-old now insists she will be able to cope on the clay in Italy, saying she needs to adapt to the intensity of top-level matches after suffering from several injury problems this year.

"I think it's just coming from a lot of intensity and overload" Raducanu said. "My back, I'm managing it.

"It's fine. But it's just trying to adapt again to the long matches, to the intensity. I think that all of the small sort of niggles I'm getting, they're all related and connected to each other, when something is overcompensating perhaps."

Raducanu's first assignment in Rome will see her face Canadian Andreescu, who also won the US Open as a teenager when she shocked Serena Williams with a straight-sets final victory in 2019.

That contest will mark the first head-to-head meeting between the two players, and Raducanu was looking forward to facing the former world number four as she highlighted the contrast between conditions in Rome and Madrid.

"Of course, we are both pretty good players," Raducanu said. "It's going to be a good match-up. She's a great athlete and obviously a champion. She's got a really good attitude. I think it's going to be interesting.

"I think here is completely opposite [to Madrid]. It's quite heavy and slow, so there's going to be a lot longer points. It will be interesting to see what the differences are. But I can already feel them on the court tennis-wise."

Emma Raducanu became the third successive major winner to lose to Anhelina Kalinina as the Ukrainian reached her maiden WTA 1000 quarter-final at the Madrid Open.

Ninth-seed Raducanu was the biggest name in action on Tuesday and had been hoping to rack up three successive WTA Tour victories for the first time since her incredible US Open success in September last year.

But Kalinina, who saw off Sloane Stephens and Garbine Muguruza in her two previous matches, got the better of the Brit in an entertaining 6-2 2-6 6-4 win.

Raducanu had not dropped a set in either of her first two outings in Madrid but Kalinina quickly put an end to that.

While the teenager responded well in the second, getting an important break to make it 3-1, Kalinina rallied again in what was a closer deciding set.

The pair traded breaks and then Kalinina got another to set her en route to victory at 5-4 – she had to save one more break point but did ultimately see off Raducanu to book a clash with Jil Teichmann in the last eight.

Teichmann beat Elena Rybakina earlier in the day, dispatching the 16th seed in impressively comfortable fashion as she won 6-3 6-1.

Progression from the last eight for Teichmann will see her reach the semi-final of a WTA 1000 event for the first time.

Sara Sorribes Tormo, the last Spaniard left in the draw, defeated Daria Kasatkina 6-4 1-6 6-3 in something of a rollercoaster ride to line up a quarter-final contest with 12th seed Jessica Pegula.

The American kept her focus despite opponent Bianca Andreescu needing a medical timeout and rain causing a 30-minute halt, eventually winning 7-5 6-1.

Naomi Osaka joined several other big names in falling to a second-round exit at the Madrid Open, although Emma Raducanu cruised to a routine straight-sets win over Marta Kostyuk.

Four-time grand slam winner Osaka crashed to a resounding 6-3 6-1 loss to Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo, exiting her first tournament on clay since the 2021 French Open, where she withdrew citing mental health issues.

Osaka, who had posted an underwhelming 20-15 record on the surface prior to this week, looked uncomfortable throughout and appeared to struggle with a leg injury during a disappointing second set display.

The 24-year-old was not the only high profile player to be on the receiving end of a shock during a day of drama in the Spanish capital, as several of the competition's seeds failed to secure places in the last 16.

Another home favourite, Garbine Muguruza, fell to a resounding loss of her own as Anhelina Kalinina raced to a 6-3 6-0 victory over the seventh seed, while sixth seed Danielle Collins was thrashed 6-1 6-1 by Canadian Bianca Andreescu.

Fourth seed Maria Sakkari was the highest-ranked player in action, and although the world number five won the first set of her clash with Daria Kasatkina, the Greek eventually fell to a 3-6 6-3 6-1 loss, while 2021 US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez went down 6-4 6-4 to Jil Teichmann.

One big name who did make comfortable progress, however, was Fernandez's US Open conqueror Raducanu, who eased to a 6-2 6-1 win over Kostyuk to set up a last-16 encounter with another Ukrainian in Kalinina. 

The 19-year-old, who has been quoted as saying she believes clay could prove to be her best surface in the future, was delighted with her victory and enjoying the tournament after dropping just one game in the second set.

"I'm definitely happy with my performance," Raducanu said on court. "Marta's a great opponent - I knew it was going to be a really tough battle. I went out there trying to be really aggressive and it paid off.

"It's my first clay court season and I'm really enjoying it. Madrid is such a cool city and it's got such a great vibe about it. I definitely want to try and stay here for as long as possible."

Naomi Osaka was encouraged by her 2022 clay-court debut, winning her opening match at the Madrid Open against Anastasia Potapova.

The former world number one has not played on the red dirt since the 2021 French Open, where she withdrew citing mental health issues.

Heading into this week in Madrid, Osaka had an underwhelming 20-15 record on clay, with each of her grand slam successes coming on hard courts.

But the 24-year-old has spoken of adjusting her approach and learning from clay king Rafael Nadal – and the early signs were positive.

She needed just over an hour to defeat Potapova 6-3 6-1 on Friday and said: "I'm honestly trying to be more positive with myself.

"This year I came a week early to train on red clay, so I'm just trying to give myself more chances to do better.

Osaka added: "To be able to do it in two sets, for me, it's a really good starting block. 

"I think today for me it was really fun, just being able to be back on the clay and not taking those moments for granted."

Fellow hard-court major champions Emma Raducanu and Bianca Andreescu also won their openers, although the latter required three sets to eventually coast past Alison Riske 6-4 3-6 6-0.

Raducanu will play another 19-year-old in the second round, with the US Open champion paired with Marta Kostyuk after getting over a slightly slow start to thrash Tereza Martincova 7-6 (7-3) 6-0.

Fourth seed Maria Sakkari overcame a scare, meanwhile, ending her losing run at three matches by coming from behind to defeat Madison Keys in three sets.

"Overall, it was a very positive match to get myself back in the winning feeling," the Greek said.

Bianca Andreescu will miss the 2022 Australian Open to focus on her mental health after suffering a "very challenging" couple of years.

Andreescu has struggled with physical and mental concerns since winning the US Open two years ago.

The 21-year-old has felt the strain even more this year, with her grandmother in intensive care after contracting COVID-19, Andreescu also testing positive and spending significant time in isolation.

The former world number four has decided to skip the first grand slam next year as she takes extra time out to "reset, recover and grow", but vowed to return "stronger than ever."

The Canadian tweeted: "As you all know, the past two years have been very challenging for me for a variety of reasons.

"Especially this year in particular, I spent multiple weeks in isolation quarantining which affected me greatly – both mentally and physically. In addition, my grandmother spent several weeks in the ICU due to a covid infection, something that really hit me hard.

"A lot of days, I did not feel like myself, especially while I was training and/or playing matches. I felt like I was carrying the world on my shoulders.

"I could not detach myself from everything that was going on off the court; was feeling the collective sadness and turmoil around it and it took its toll on me.

"I want to give myself extra time to reset, recover and grow from this (as cliche [sic] as that sounds) and continue to inspire by doing charity work, giving back and working on myself because I know by doing this, I will come back stronger than ever.

"I will therefore not start my season in Australia this year, but will take some additional time to reflect, train and be ready for the upcoming 2022 season."

 

Top seed Karolina Pliskova suffered a shock defeat while defending champion Bianca Andreescu and Coco Gauff also were on the wrong end of upsets Monday at the Indian Wells Open. 

World number 115 Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil stunned Pliskova in straight sets to reach the round of 16 at a WTA Premier 1000 event for the first time.

The 15th and 16th seeds, Gauff and Andreescu, also exited in two sets, albeit to seeded players. 

 

LUCKY LOSER OUSTS PLISKOVA 

Haddad Maia lost in the final round of qualifying but made the main draw as a lucky loser when Nadia Podoroska withdrew through injury, and she has made the most of that reprieve with a 6-3 7-5 defeat of the world number three. 

She had faced Pliskova once before and it did not go well, a 6-1 6-1 rout at the 2018 Australian Open, but the Czech struggled to find her trademark serve amid powerful winds in the California desert.

Pliskova suffered 12 double faults and won just 43.4 per cent of points on her serve, whole Haddad Maia saved nine of the 14 break points she faced on her own serve. 

 

KONTAVEIT STAYS HOT TO DETHRONE ANDREESCU

Haddad Maia next faces 18th seed Annett Kontaveit, who ousted Andreescu 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 to end the Canadian's dreams of a repeat. 

Kontaveit has won 15 of her last 16 matches, winning titles in Cleveland and Ostrava during that stretch. Monday, she captured the first set on her fifth set point before rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the second to run the table and seal the win.

"It was extremely close throughout the match and I was just trying to stay tough. I was ready for a tough match," Kontaveit said. "She's such a good player, such a great competitor, so I knew it wasn't going to be over until it was really over."

 

BADOSA BOUNCES GAUFF

Paula Badosa, the 21st seed, breezed past Gauff 6-2 6-2 as the American teen also had trouble with her serve, hitting just two aces after recording 12 in her previous match. 

In a meeting of the last two defeated finalists in the tournament, 10th seed Angelique Kerber beat 20th seed Daria Kasatkina 6-2 1-6 6-4. 

Third seed Barbora Krejcikova handled Amanda Anisimova with ease, 6-2 6-3. 

Ons Jabeur, the 12th seed, had little trouble in downing 22nd seed Danielle Collins 6-1 6-3. 

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