Defending champion Iga Swiatek will face Aryna Sabalenka in the Stuttgart Open final after Ons Jabeur was forced to retire from their semi-final with a left calf injury.

World number one Swiatek was 3-0 up against Jabeur when her tearful opponent called a medical timeout and ultimately ended the contest early.

It sets up a mouthwatering showdown between top seed Swiatek and second seed Sabalenka, who defeated Anastasia Potapova in straight sets earlier on Saturday.

Jabeur, who struggled to shake off the injury sustained in the first game, said: "The third point, I don't know what happened.

"I was really excited to play Iga today – it's always a fun match between us. I wish her the best luck for the final. I'm sorry guys, I really tried to run, but Iga never makes it easy."

Sabalenka, a beaten finalist in the past two years, held her serve in the opening set against Potapova and twice broke her unseeded opponent to take the lead.

The Belarusian raced 4-0 ahead in the second set and saw out a comfortable 6-1 6-2 victory in a little under an hour to reach her fourth final of the year.

"I think I was really focused, and I think from the very first point I was playing really aggressive," Sabalenka said in her on-court interview. "I didn't give [Potapova] much time. 

"I think that's why the match finished like that quick. But anyway, she's a great player, and I think in the future she's going to be a top player."

Swiatek defeated Sabalenka in last year's Stuttgart final 6-2 6-2 and is aiming to become the first player to defend the title since Angelique Kerber in 2016.

It was a day for comebacks at the Stuttgart Open, with number one seed Iga Swiatek recovering from a set down to beat Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals.

Swiatek made a disastrous start, going 4-0 down, and though she broke back once, was unable to find the second as Pliskova took the opening frame 6-4.

The determined Pole stepped up a level though to take the second 6-1, before breaking early in the third.

It was still an improvement for the Czech player, who lost 6-0 6-0 to Swiatek in their only previous meeting in Rome in 2021.

Pliskova kept her opponent honest on her own serve, but Swiatek had too much for the world number 17 as she clinched the decider 6-2.

Aryna Sabalenka also showcased her powers of recovery as she beat Paula Badosa despite going a set down.

The second seed won 4-6 6-4 6-4 in an even contest that saw nine breaks of serve, before the Belarusian eventually got over the line.

Sabalenka is now the player with the joint-most comeback wins over the last two seasons (13) level with Caroline Garcia, though the French star was actually the victim of a comeback herself on Friday.

Garcia won the first set against Anastasia Potapova, before the Russian came back to take it 4-6 6-3 6-3 to set up a semi against Sabalenka.

There was no need for such drama from Ons Jabeur, who eased to a 6-3 6-0 victory against Beatriz Haddad Maia in just 68 minutes to confirm a clash with Swiatek.

Iga Swiatek believes it is "pretty confusing" to see the International Olympic Committee backing sports stars from Russia and Belarus to return to top-level sport while the invasion of Ukraine continues.

Since Russia launched its assault in February 2022, supported by Belarus, many sports have banned athletes from the two countries outright, while tennis has been among those that has largely allowed them to compete but under a neutral flag.

Swiatek, the women's tennis world number one, hails from Poland and has been a vociferous critic of the war and a fervent supporter of Ukraine.

Interim recommendations were issued by the IOC last month to international federations and organisers of events regarding the involvement of Russians and Belarusians.

The Olympic body urged federations to exclude any athletes or support personnel "who actively support the war" and said teams from either country should not be allowed to compete in international sport for now.

However, in a statement, the IOC said it should be "the sole responsibility" of sporting bodies to decide whether individuals can compete, and this should be "based on their sporting merits and not on political grounds or because of their passports".

There is a clear possibility of Russian and Belarusian athletes being allowed to compete as neutrals at the Paris 2024 Olympics, although IOC president Thomas Bach stressed there has been no decision taken on that matter.

Swiatek was asked about the IOC stance after her opening match at the Stuttgart Open, and the 21-year-old said: "Human rights are important, but I always feel like there are values that you have to kind of treat respectfully, and war is not something that we want in the world. I was pretty open about that since the beginning.

"Right now the situation is pretty complicated, because at the beginning of the war there weren't many decisions one way. At first they were kind of banned in other sports, not in tennis.

"Then it changed a little bit, and they are starting to be allowed, the Russian and Belarusian players, which is pretty confusing, because I feel like nothing changed in Ukraine and the cities are still under attack and many Ukrainian athletes are fighting in the war and actually losing their lives.

"It's heartbreaking. I just hope, no matter what the decision is going to be, the sport will be able to kind of put people together and not separate them.

"But there are tensions, so it may be tricky and hard to do. As just one athlete, I don't have full influence on what's going on, so we kind of have to just compete our best no matter what the circumstances are."

Iga Swiatek is through to the quarter-finals of the Stuttgart Open after easing to a 6-1 6-4 win over Zheng Qinwen on her return from a rib injury.

Swiatek had not played since sustaining the issue in the semi-finals of Indian Wells over a month ago, but advanced on Thursday despite stating that she felt "rusty".

The world number one won 84 per cent of points after landing her first serve in as she made up for lost time.

Swiatek also forced eight break points, winning four of them as she took just and hour and 26 minutes to set up a quarter-final with Karolina Pliskova, who bested Donna Vekic in a thriller.

Pliskova looked to be on her way to a routine win as she claimed the first set 6-2, only for the Croatian to take the second via a tie-break.

The decider also went the distance, with Pliskova able to finally put Vekic away 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) to book her clash with Swiatek.

Coco Gauff perhaps paid the price for taking almost three hours to beat Veronika Kudermetova on Wednesday, as the fifth seed fell to a straight-sets loss to Anastasia Potapova on Thursday, going down 6-2 6-3.

Fourth seed Caroline Garcia will go up against Potapova next after she defeated Tatjana Maria 7-6 (7-5) 6-4, while Paula Badosa had few problems seeing off fellow Spaniard Cristina Bucsa 6-1 6-2 and will face second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the last eight.

Iga Swiatek will open the defence of her Stuttgart Open title against Qinwen Zheng after the world number 25's 6-4 6-4 win over Alycia Parks on Monday.

Lucky loser Parks hit eight aces but also 11 double-faults and was undone once in each set as Zheng took a straight-sets victory to tee up a second-round clash with the world number one.

Cristina Bucsa came up with a third-set bagel to join Zheng in round two, having initially made hard work of fellow qualifier Tamara Korpatsch in her 3-6 6-4 6-0 win.

Bucsa will meet the winner of the clash between seventh seed Daria Kasatkina and last year's semi-finalist Paula Badosa.

Meanwhile, Donna Vekic will take on either Karolina Pliskova or Maria Sakkari after she battled to a 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-5) triumph over Ekaterina Alexandrova.

The star-studded line-up sees grand slam winners including Emma Raducanu, Barbora Krejcikova and Jelena Ostapenko get their campaigns underway on Tuesday.

Ons Jabeur, who claimed victory at the Charleston Open earlier this month, kicks off her tournament on Wednesday.

World number one Iga Swiatek believes tennis authorities missed the opportunity to take a stand against the war in Ukraine by banning Russian and Belarusian players.

In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine last year – which was aided by Belarus – players from both countries were barred from competing at Wimbledon.

Wimbledon was the only grand slam to implement a ban, however, and affected players will be able to return to SW19 this year as neutral athletes after the All England Club reversed the move.

While Swiatek acknowledges a ban may be harsh on Russian and Belarusian players, she feels the sport missed a chance to send a strong message to Vladimir Putin's regime by enacting such a measure. 

"I heard that after World War II, German players were not allowed as well as Japanese and Italian, and I feel like this kind of thing would show the Russian government that maybe it's not worth it," she told the BBC.

"I know it's a small thing because we are just athletes, a little piece in the world, but I feel like sport is pretty important and sport has always been used in propaganda.

"This is something that was considered at the beginning, tennis didn't really go that way, but now it would be pretty unfair for Russian and Belarusian players to do that, because this decision was supposed to be made a year ago.

"I feel like tennis, from the beginning, could do a bit better in showing everybody that tennis players are against the war."

On her Russian and Belarusian colleagues, Swiatek added: "It's not their fault they have a passport like that, but on the other hand, we all have some kind of impact.

"I feel like anything that would help stop the Russian aggression, we should go that way in terms of the decisions the federations are making."

Iga Swiatek has withdrawn from the Miami Open with a rib injury.

The world number was due to defend her title, having won the tournament last year without dropping a set.

However, she will be unable to feature in Florida due to an ongoing rib issue that has plagued her since the Qatar Open in February.

Swiatek reached the semi-finals of the Indian Wells Open last week, losing to eventual champion Elena Rybakina, and hinted at concerns over her condition.

The Pole confirmed on Wednesday that after consulting with her medical team, she will not play her second-round match against Claire Liu on Thursday and will also miss the Billie Jean King Cup, which takes place in April.

"You know that in and after Doha I was struggling with a strong infection," Swiatek said. 

"I was allowed to play, but a strong episode of tough cough led to a rib injury. We were trying to handle it and continue to play as long as it was safe for me. We were analysing the data in the last [few] days and my doctor prepared my diagnosis.

"Unfortunately, I'm still feeling a lot of discomfort and pain and I can't compete.

"I will keep you updated about where I play next, because it depends on my process of recovering and the recommendation of my medical team. 

"I have the best team behind me, we only need some time to deal with the injury. It's a truly difficult call to not play in Miami and the Billie Jean King Cup, but health is the most important [thing].

"I'm grateful this is the first health issue in a long time and I was able to compete in perfect shape for so long, but that's sports, it happens sometimes, without our control. 

"Time to accept it and get well as soon as possible."

Swiatek will be replaced in the women's draw by lucky loser Julia Grabher.

The 21-year-old will now hope to be fully fit in time for the clay-court season, including the French Open, where she is the reigning champion.

Aryna Sabalenka received "hate" in the dressing room after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Sabalenka finished as runner-up at Indian Wells last week, losing to Elena Rybakina, who she defeated in the Australian Open final in January.

Born in Belarus, an ally of Russia, the 24-year-old revealed ahead of her Miami Open campaign that "weird conversations" had come from members of other players' teams, rather than her fellow pros.

"It was really tough for me because I've never faced that much hate in the locker room," she said. "There are a lot of haters on Instagram when you're losing matches, but in the locker room I've never faced that.

"I had some, not like fights, but I had some weird conversations with, not the girls, but with members of their team. It was tough. It was a tough period. But now it's getting better.

"It was really tough to understand that there's so many people who hate me for no reason. I did nothing."

Players from Russia and Belarus have been classed as neutral since the invasion, and were banned from last year's Wimbledon.

Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko pulled out of her match against Sabalenka at Indian Wells after suffering a panic attack following a conversation she had with WTA chief executive Steve Simon about tennis's response to the invasion.

World number one Iga Swiatek had called for greater support for Ukrainian players as a result of the conflict but another Belarusian, Victoria Azarenka, disagreed.

"There are certain players that have different feelings and behaviours. Overall, I don't necessarily share the same opinion as Iga does," Azarenka said.

"I'd encourage her to look at the things that have been done before she makes comments. As a player council member I'm happy to provide the facts. That would be a more appropriate way to have that conversation."

Camila Giorgi progressed into the Miami Open second round despite blowing a 5-0 third-set lead as she edged past veteran Kaia Kanepi in the equal-longest main draw match of the year on Tuesday.

The Italian world number 44, who won February's Merida Open, outlasted the Estonian 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) in three hours and 32 minutes.

The length was equal to the Erika Andreeva-Harriet Dart first-round match at the ATX Open last month for the longest this WTA season.

But Giorgi could have had an earlier finish, leading 5-0 in the decider before Kanepi hit back by winning the next five games, only for the Italian to rally in the tie-break, converting her fourth match point.

Giorgi, who blew match points at 5-3 and 5-4, will take on three-time Miami Open winner and 2023 Australian Open semi-finalist Victoria Azarenka in the second round.

Russian 34-year-old Evgeniya Rodina produced the upset of the day's play, beating 37th-ranked Bernarda Pera 6-3 6-4 in 73 minutes and will take on 20th seed Magda Linette in the second round.

Rodina is currently ranked 369th in the world having returned to the WTA Tour midway through last season after a two-year absence, having reached a career-high 67th in May 2019.

World number 39 Elise Mertens eased into the second round with a 6-1 6-4 win over USA's Alycia Parks, setting up a second-round clash with eighth seed Daria Kasatkina.

World number 43 Yulia Putintseva bowed out prematurely, going down 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 to Canada's Rebecca Marino, who advanced to face sixth seed Coco Gauff.

Teenager Linda Fruhvirtova, ranked 50th in the world, also suffered a shock loss, beaten 6-2 4-6 6-4 by 172nd-ranked Canadian qualifier Katherine Sebov, while Laura Siegemund won 6-3 6-4 over 52nd-ranked Mayar Sherif

Katerina Siniakova withdrew due to injury despite winning the first set against USA's Claire Liu, with scores at 6-3 3-3. Liu's prize is a second-round meeting with top seed and reigning champion Iga Swiatek.

Iga Swiatek is unsure whether she will be fit to defend her Miami Open title after a rib injury hampered the world number one during a semi-final defeat at the Indian Wells Open.

A savage 6-2 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina came while Swiatek was suffering physically.

She was emphatically outplayed, and how much of a factor the injury was is unclear, with tests in the coming days set to dictate what happens next for the 21-year-old Pole.

Swiatek was asked about what Rybakina did well and said: "I feel like it's still more me and my mistakes. I'm also not feeling 100 per cent physically. I have a little discomfort in my rib, and we're going to consult with the medical team."

She said she would use the days leading up to next week's event in Miami as a chance to recover.

"In terms of the rib, we'll see, because I still have to run some tests and see what's going on. I don't know yet," she said after Friday's defeat.

"Honestly, I haven't played with a lot of injuries. It's a new situation for me. The last time I played with an injury, the only tournament I can remember, is Roland Garros in 2019, so I was pretty young.

"Now it's a totally different level. I have been playing, so there has been some fatigue all the time. I would say it's kind of constant, but I'm pretty sure that tomorrow or the day after will help in recovery."

Asked whether it was a problem that could prevent her playing in Miami, Swiatek said: "No, for now I'm preparing to play, but we'll see what the next days are going to tell us. I don't know yet."

Swiatek last year won both Indian Wells and Miami to complete the 'Sunshine Double' in the early stages of a 37-match winning run that ended with a third-round Wimbledon defeat to Alize Cornet.

While Swiatek seeks medical expertise, Rybakina goes on to face Aryna Sabalenka in Sunday's Indian Wells trophy match, a repeat of the Australian Open final that Sabalenka won to earn a first grand slam singles title.

It is the third time this century that the WTA Indian Wells showpiece match has featured the same line-up as the Melbourne Park final after 2000 (Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis) and 2012 (Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka).

Elena Rybakina is through to her second final of the year after upsetting world number one Iga Swiatek 6-2 6-2 in Friday's Indian Wells Open semi-final.

Rybakina, 25, added to her terrific recent head-to-head record against the 21-year-old Polish superstar, now with three consecutive straight sets victories since December.

The reigning Wimbledon champion, who became Kazakhstan's first grand slam winner, was all over Swiatek's serve from the jump.

The top seed ended up winning just 42 per cent (18-of-43) of her total service points, with Rybakina converting all five of her break point opportunities.

After taking the opening frame, Rybakina slammed the door shut by running out to a 5-0 lead in the second, hitting five aces in the set while Swiatek had just one for the match.

Rybakina will next face world number two Aryna Sabalenka in the decider after the Belarusian made similar light work of world number seven Maria Sakkari.

Sabalenka, who has dropped only one set en route to the final, needed just 85 minutes to advance 6-2 6-3. She created 10 break point opportunities compared to Sakkari's four, with the Greek talent not able to pull another rabbit out of the hat after four consecutive three-set victories.

It will be the sixth overall meeting between Rybakina and Sabalenka, and a rematch from the Australian Open final, when Sabalenka took it 4-6 6-3 6-4 to extend her head-to-head advantage to 4-1.

Top seed Iga Swiatek had little trouble navigating the challenge of Sorana Cirstea in Thursday's Indian Wells Open quarter-final, cruising to a 6-2 6-3 victory.

The world number one started brilliantly by breaking the unseeded Romanian's serve on her first opportunity, and despite Cirstea responding, Swiatek rattled off the final four games of the opening set.

The 21-year-old Polish phenom would not stop there as she continued on a streak of eight consecutive games to jump ahead 4-0 in the second set, finishing the job in 83 minutes.

It is Swiatek's third consecutive tournament where she has made it to at least the semi-finals, having won the Qatar Open and reached the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February.

The last time she did not reach the semi-final in a tournament was in January's Australian Open, when she was sent packing in the fourth round by Elena Rybakina.

She will get a chance to avenge that defeat in the semi-final after Rybakina set up the rematch by getting the better of Karolina Muchova 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-4.

Rybakina, who became the first Kazakhstan-born player to reach the semi-final of a WTA1000 event since 2009, had a much more competitive affair. 

In the razor-thin battle, both Rybakina and Muchova won exactly 106 out of 212 points, but the reigning Wimbledon champion and Australian Open finalist produced 14 break point opportunities to the Czech's six.

It will be the fourth overall meeting between Swiatek and Rybakina, and after the Pole took their first clash, Rybakina responded with back-to-back straight-sets victories.

The winner will earn a spot in the final, where they will meet the victor of Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka.

Emma Raducanu conceded there is "a long way to go" until she is back to full fitness but remained "proud" of her week at Indian Wells despite her fourth-round defeat to Iga Swiatek. 

Raducanu had been plagued by tonsillitis and a recurring wrist injury in the build-up to the tournament that forced her to pull out of a doubles exhibition with Cameron Norrie on the eve of the competition. 

The 20-year-old was able to compete in the women's draw, however, and claimed victories over Australian Open semi-finalist Magda Linette and world number 13 Beatriz Haddad Maia before losing 6-3 6-1 to world number one Swiatek on Tuesday.

Raducanu started well but a fourth match in six days eventually caught up with the Brit, who lost the second set comprehensively.

Yet Raducanu is satisfied with her performances in her first tournament appearance since January.

"I'm very proud of myself," Raducanu said.

"I think I had a few good wins earlier against some great opponents. I did two good training weeks in London. They paid off to an extent but ultimately two weeks of training isn't going to cut it against the world number one right now. 

"Now it's just about consistent work to physically get to where I want to be. I saw a taste of the level where number one is at physically and how she is at the corners, repetitive, relentless. Yeah, I just couldn't take that." 

"I'm looking forward to playing her after I've got more time under my belt."

Raducanu will now return to training as she looks to build on her most impressive set of displays since her remarkable US Open victory in 2021, with the Miami Open next on the cards.

She added: "Physically I feel like that's going to be one of my biggest assets. I think that I'm going to be one of the best athletes on the tour, and that's going to be a big part of my game. 

"I would say there is a very long way to go, but I'm definitely starting the right work now."

Reigning champion Swiatek will now face Sorana Cirstea in the quarter-finals.

"I'm always pretty good in defence. I knew that I can't rush it and I can't be not patient, so I just stayed solid and I wanted to choose the right directions," Swiatek said after becoming the sixth player to win 11 or more of her first 12 main draw matches at Indian Wells.

"I always want to finish points as fast as possible if I have a chance, but for sure I know that sometimes it's not going to be possible here."

Iga Swiatek has called for more to be done to help Ukrainian players following Lesia Tsurenko's withdrawal from the Indian Wells Open due to a panic attack.

Ukrainian Tsurenko had been due to face Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in the third round on Sunday, only to pull out for what had initially been put down to "personal reasons".

She later revealed her decision was down to a panic attack triggered by a chat with WTA chief executive Steve Simon about tennis's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Swiatek offered her full support to Tsurenko and wants more focus to be on Ukrainian players during a hugely challenging period, rather than on Russian and Belarusian players.

"I totally understand why she withdrew. I respect Ukrainian girls so much," said the world number one, speaking after her 6-3 6-1 win over Emma Raducanu in the last 16 on Tuesday.

"If a bomb landed in my country or if my home was destroyed, I don't know if I could handle that and compete.

"You have to really mentally be there to compete every week. So I get that she wasn't ready to do that.

"I feel more should be done to help Ukrainian players. Everything we discuss in tennis is about Belarusians and Russians, if they should be allowed, what's going on with them.

"I don't think that's right. We should focus more on helping Ukrainian players and providing them with everything they need.

"They basically have to take care of all their families, and there's a lot of baggage on their shoulders."

Swiatek, who wears a Ukrainian flag on her cap, called out Anastasia Potapova earlier this week after she wore a Russian football shirt on court at Indian wells.

Potapova, allowed to compete in events as a neutral athlete, sported a Spartak Moscow jersey ahead of her 6-3 4-6 5-7 defeat to Jessica Pegula on Monday.

"To be honest, I was surprised," Swiatek said. "I thought the player realised that she should not, even if she is a fan of the team, show her views in this way at such times."

Top seed Swiatek believes the situation could have been avoided had the WTA set out clear guidelines regarding the highly charged political situation.

"It's a tough situation. It's pretty emotional as I feel like these situations with people wearing Russian football shirts because we didn't have proper leadership," Swiatek said.

"There is a lot of tension in the locker room that is obviously going to be there, because there is a war. 

"But maybe there would have been a little bit less [tension] if WTA put some action in place at the beginning to kind of explain to everybody what is right and what is not."

Swiatek resumes her Indian Wells title defence against Sorana Cirstea in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Top seed Iga Swiatek will be hard top stop in her title defence at the Indian Wells Open after a straight-sets thrashing over Emma Raducanu in Tuesday's last 16.

The Polish world number one eased to victory 6-3 6-1 in one hour and 25 minutes over the 2021 US Open champion, who has enjoyed an improved run this week in California.

Swiatek offered few weaknesses in a strong disciplined display, converting four of 10 break points, including three in a one-way second set.

The three-time major winner won 88 per cent on her first serve while she was impressive on return and able to win the longer rallies. Swiatek hit 22-9 winners while Raducanu made 22-14 unforced errors.

Swiatek will take on Romania's Sorana Cirstea in the quarter-finals, after she upset fifth seed Caroline Garcia 6-4 4-6 7-5 in two hours and 24 minutes.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina also progressed in that part of the draw, setting up a last-eight clash with unseeded Czech Karolina Muchova.

Rybakina won 6-3 6-0 over qualifier Varvara Gracheva in a similarly strong performance, needing only one hour and 21 minutes.  Muchova beat compatriot Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 in two hours and 37 minutes.

Third seed Jessica Pegula was the major casualty of the day's play, going down 6-2 3-6 7-6 (13-11) to 16th seed Petra Kvitova in a dramatic two-hour-and-16-minutes clash.

Pegula had opened up a 5-3 third-set lead and squandered a match point on serve, before two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova squared it up at 5-5. Kvitova, however, was broken immediately to offer Pegula another chance to serve out the match again, which she was unable to take.

The American generated another three match points in the tie-break but could not convert before the Czech eventually prevailed on her own fourth match point, with the deciding set lasting one hour and 12 minutes.

Kvitova will face seventh seed Maria Sakkari in the quarters after she triumphed in a lengthy clash 6-4 5-7 6-3 over Karolina Pliskova, lasting two hours and 43 minutes.

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka also needed three sets to beat Barbora Krejcikova 6-3 2-6 6-4 in two hours and four minutes. Krejcikova had been responsible for Sabalenka's lone loss this season, in a 15-1 year.

Sabalenka, who won this year's Australian Open, will face sixth seed Coco Gauff who defeated Rebecca Peterson 6-3 1-6 6-4. Gauff won the last four games for victory, having trailed 4-2 in the deciding set.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.