Beatriz Haddad Maia claimed back-to-back WTA Tour titles after Zhang Shuai retired hurt in the Birmingham Classic final on Sunday.

Haddad Maia enjoyed a fine day, beating second seed and two-time major champion Simona Halep 6-3 2-6 6-4 in a rearranged semi-final (postponed from Saturday due to rain).

Zhang followed that up by battling past Halep's Romanian compatriot Sorana Cirstea 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7-5), setting up a second career match with Haddad Maia.

The Brazilian struggled in the opening stages, with Zhang racing into the lead before squandering an opportunity to go 3-0 up.

Haddad Maia soon recovered to level at 3-3 before Zhang was forced to retire with an apparent neck injury, with the Chinese player 5-4 down in the first set.

 

That handed the world number 32 her second straight title after success at the Nottingham Open last week, with Ons Jabeur and Iga Swiatek the only others to record multiple WTA Tour triumphs this year.

Haddad Maia also became the first Brazilian lift the trophy in the tournament's 40-year history, surpassing the previous best result by a player from Brazil when Gisele Miro made the second round in 1989.

Coco Gauff reached the first grass-court semi-final of her career by beating Karolina Pliskova at the Berlin Open, teeing up a clash with top seed Ons Jabeur.

Having already recorded her best tour-level run on grass by reaching the final eight, Gauff recorded a superb 7-5 6-4 win over two-time grand slam finalist Pliskova.

Gauff – who reached her first grand slam final at Roland Garros last month, saved four set points in the opener before roaring to victory in one hour and 37 minutes, and was delighted to have overcome a tough opponent in the world number seven.

"I'm super happy with how I played today," Gauff said on court after the win. "Playing her on grass, with her serve, how flat she hits the ball, it was really tough to be honest. 

"A first semi-final on grass is pretty cool, and also I feel like the opponents I've played this week haven’t been easy, especially today, so I'm proud of myself about that."

Gauff will face Jabeur for a spot in the final after the Tunisian fought back from one set down in a 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 6-2 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who entered the contest having won 26 matches during an impressive year.

The other semi-final will see Maria Sakkari face Belinda Bencic, after the world number six cruised to a 6-0 6-3 win over Daria Kasatkina and Bencic beat Veronika Kudermetova 3-6 6-3 6-3.

In the Birmingham Classic, meanwhile, Simona Halep raced to a 6-4 6-1 win over Katie Boulter to reach the final four, but third seed Camila Giorgi fell to a 6-3 6-2 loss to Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia, who has now won eight consecutive games on grass.

While that pair will face off in one of Saturday's semi-finals, eighth seed Zhang Shuai will face Sorana Cirstea in the other. Zhang overcame Dayana Yastremska 7-5 6-4 and sixth seed Cirstea beat Donna Vekic 5-7 6-3 6-4.

Ajla Tomljanovic reached the quarter-finals of the Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Rabat, while Sorana Cirstea crashed out in Strasbourg.

Second seed Tomljanovic was a 7-5 6-2 victor against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, reeling off the last four games in succession to advance in Morocco.

Fellow Australian Astra Sharma joined her in the last eight by overcoming wildcard Petra Marcinko 5-7 6-3 6-3.

Kristina Mladenovic had to save a match point after passing up two herself to finally get over the line with a 6-3 3-6 7-6 (9-7) success - her first singles win of the year - over lucky loser Tessah Andrianjafitrimo in a first-round clash.

At the Internationaux de Strasbourg, third seed Cirstea stormed to a one-set advantage against Ekaterina Makarova but soon fell away and succumbed to a 1-6 6-3 6-2 loss. 

Magda Linette breezed past Heather Watson 6-1 6-1 to reach the quarter-finals, where she was joined by Maryna Zanevska after the Belgian's 4-6 7-5 6-1 comeback win against Harmony Tan. 

Top seed Karolina Pliskova awaits American Bernarda Pera who defeated Elena-Gabriela Ruse in straight sets, while Anna-Lena Friedsam will take on Elise Mertens after rallying to beat Daria Saville 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-5).

Iga Swiatek continued her impressive form as she crushed qualifier Eva Lys at the Stuttgart Open to clinch a 20th successive win and sail into the quarter-finals.

The world number one was far too good for her opponent, as she claimed her 6-1 6-1 victory in slightly over an hour.

Swiatek, 20, last lost a match in February and has not dropped a set since Indian Wells in March, winning each of the last 26 – that is the best such run on the WTA Tour since Serena Williams won 28 successive sets between the 2012 US Open and 2013 Australian Open.

Having won each of the past three events she has entered, Swiatek is the hot favourite to make it four on the bounce in Stuttgart, where she could meet reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu next in the last eight.

Raducanu, seeded eighth, began her campaign with an emphatic 6-1 6-2 win over Australia's Storm Sanders on Wednesday to set up a second-round clash with Tamara Korpatsch – the winner faces Swiatek.

Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova overcame compatriot Petra Kvitova 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-5) to progress, while Anett Kontaveit – the fifth favourite – saw off Angelique Kerber 3-6 6-4 6-4.

It was a bad day for some of the higher seeds in the Istanbul Cup, as three of the top five were eliminated.

Favourite Elise Mertens retired from her tournament opener with Rebecca Peterson due to a leg injury, though the Belgian was already 7-5 4-1 down.

Anhelina Kalinina and Jil Teichmann – seeded fourth and fifth, respectively – suffered surprise defeats as well.

Defending champion and second seed Sorana Cirstea appeared in danger of following them out as well, but rallied to defeat Arantxa Rus 3-6 6-1 7-5.

Ajla Tomljanovic also progressed, the Australian enjoying an impressive start against her countrywoman Jaimee Fourlis, winning 6-1 6-3.

Second seed Sorana Cirstea breezed through the first round of the Istanbul Cup on Tuesday as US Open champion Emma Raducanu prepares for her bow in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

The Romanian made short work of lucky loser Kamilla Rakhimova in a 6-4 6-1 straight sets victory in Turkey to launch her defence of the title she won against Elise Mertens last year.

The Belgian – top seed once again in Istanbul – gets her campaign underway against Sweden's Rebecca Peterson on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, there were wins for seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Jil Teichmann, though Tereza Martincova is out after a surprise 6-4 7-5 loss to qualifier Anna Bondar.

World number 12 Raducanu meanwhile is also poised to get her latest tilt for silverware underway in Stuttgart in midweek, with the eighth seed facing qualifier Storm Sanders.

The title is up for grabs on the WTA Tour following Ash Barty's retirement, with her world number one successor Iga Swiatek a potential quarter-finalist for the Briton if she gets that far.

There will be no Coco Gauff in the mix however after the American made a first round exit in straight sets, losing to Daria Kasatkina 6-4 6-2.

Seventh seed Ons Jabeur, meanwhile, fought back to beat Marketa Vondrousova 4-6 6-2 6-3, while qualifier Eva Lys overcame Viktorija Golubic 5-7 7-5 7-5 to set up a second round clash with Swiatek.

Dayana Yastremska says she did not expect the support she has received on her run to the final of the Lyon Open after edging second seed Sorana Cirstea in a three-set semi-final thriller.

The Ukrainian was forced to flee her home in Odessa last month amid the escalation of the Ukraine-Russia crisis and has embarked on an emotional run through this week's tournament.

Yet the 21-year-old wildcard admitted she has been overwhelmed by the support from across the globe amid her winning streak, crediting them for their help in her 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 victory on Saturday.

"It was a really tough match," Yastremska said. "In the third set, when I had match points and I lost that game, I was a bit crazy. I thought, I'm done, I've lost, because I don't have any more power.

"Then everybody was supporting me, and I felt like, 'you can do it'. I got a lot of messages from French people and from all over the world. But when I arrived here, I didn't expect I would get that huge support."

Yastremska will face Zhang Shuai in Sunday's final, after the Chinese eighth seed defeated French home favourite Caroline Garcia 6-2 7-5.

For Yastremska, it will be her first final since losing to Ash Barty in Adelaide at the start of 2020 – her only previous tournament success came in Strasbourg the year before.

Dayana Yastremska maintained her emotional run at the Lyon Open by beating fifth seed Jasmine Paolini in straight sets to book a semi-final spot. 

The Ukrainian wildcard secured her place in the last four on Friday with a 6-4 7-6 (7-3) victory over the Italian amid the war with Russia in her home country. 

The 21-year-old fled Odessa with her sister last week, separating from her parents in the process, and has spoken about her desire to honour those back in Ukraine with a title. 

She will face second seed Sorana Cirstea after the Romanian made short work of Anna Bondar with a 6-3 6-3 victory. 

Elsewhere, Caroline Garcia toppled another seed after fighting back to beat Alison van Uytvanck 4-6 6-3 7-5. The home favourite knocked out top seed Camila Giorgi in the first round and has a semi-final clash against Zhang Shuai to look forward to. 

Zhang did not have to sweat to make her place after Vitalia Diatchenko was forced to retire at three games down in the first set through injury. 

Viktorija Golubic came from a set down to beat lucky loser Mai Hontama and move into the second round of the Lyon Open on Wednesday.

Third seed Golubic was given the run-around by Hontama in the first set before fighting back to win 1-6 6-4 6-4.

Golubic had to dig deep to secure a meeting with Vitalia Diatchenko, who beat Anna-Lena Friedsam, as Hontama's deft drop shots had given her a scent of pulling off an upset.

The Swiss broke six times and saved six break points, wrapping up a well-earned victory in two hours and 10 minutes.

Golubic's compatriot Stefanie Voegele bowed out at the second-round stage, losing 6-3 7-5 to second seed Sorana Cirstea.

Anna Bondar reached the quarter-finals when Katie Boulter retired due to injury after losing the first set 6-3.

Alison Van Uytvanck won the final match of the day, getting the better of Varvara Gracheva 6-2 6-4 to advance to the last eight.

Petra Kvitova was convincingly beaten to bow out of the Australian Open in straight sets in the first round on Tuesday.

The Czech 20th seed, a finalist in Melbourne in 2019, was crushed 6-2 6-2 by Romanian Sorana Cirstea on John Cain Arena.

Kvitova produced a staggering 39 unforced errors with just seven winners to bow out in 71 minutes.

It continued a mixed record at Melbourne Park for the two-time Wimbledon champion.

Kvitova has now bowed out of a grand slam in the first round 11 times – with four of those coming at the Australian Open.

Cirstea will face either Misaki Doi or Kristina Kucova in this year's second round.

The 31-year-old also beat Kvitova at the Australian Open last year – in the second round.

Elina Svitolina required a third-set tie-break to progress at the Indian Wells Open, while former world number one Victoria Azarenka handled an old rival in straight sets and Simona Halep fell victim to an upset. 

Svitolina – the fourth seed – dropped the first set to 32nd seed Sorana Cirstea before fighting back to reach the round of 16 at the WTA Premier 1000 event on Sunday.

Two-time grand-slam champion Azarenka joined Svitolina in the next round after knocking out seventh seed Petra Kvitova, but 11th seed Halep became Aliaksandra Sasnovich's latest conquest. 

 

SVITOLINA SURVIVES CIRSTEA SCARE

Svitolina needed two hours, 32 minutes to outlast Cirstea 4-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) and remain unbeaten in three career matches against the Romanian. 

The Ukrainian was on the defensive throughout the opening set, facing 11 break points on her serve and managing to save eight of them before Cirstea finally won out. 

Svitolina tightened things up from there, saving four of five break points the rest of the match. 

"It was a very tough match today, and I was fighting and trying to find my game," said Svitolina, who will face Jessica Pegula next. "It was a bit of a rollercoaster.

"I wish I could play a little bit better in the first set, I had chances to grab that set, but unfortunately it didn't play the way I wanted. I had to fight for every point, and Sorana played a great match, I think. I'm happy that I could win today."

 

AZARENKA TAKES DOWN KVITOVA

Azarenka won her first two Tour-level matches against Kvitova in 2008 and 2009 but had prevailed only once in six meetings since then before Sunday's 7-5 6-4 triumph. 

The two-time Indian Wells champion converted break-point chances when she needed them, six of 11 in all, and had 18 unforced errors to Kvitova's 26. 

"It was important to just stay there, really take my opportunities, not to let her," Azarenka said after taking down two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova. "If she gets in the groove in couple points, not to kind of let her extend that streak, if you want to call it that.

"I was trying to still create opportunities for myself, be more aggressive, and honestly just believing also that what I'm doing is right and see how I can execute that. So intention was good. Execution followed after."

 

ANOTHER UPSET FOR SASNOVICH

After knocking off US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the second round, Sasnovich ushered out another grand slam winner in Halep 7-5 6-4 and will next face Azarenka.

The world number 100 had 22 winners to 16 for Halep and won 61.8 per cent of points on her serve as she reached the round of 16 at Indian Wells for the first time. 

In other matches Sunday, ninth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova fell to 23rd seed and US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez 5-7 6-3 6-4, while second seed Iga Swiatek dropped only one game in a 6-1 6-0 demolition of Veronika Kudermetova. 

Jelena Ostapenko and Shelby Rogers also advanced. 

Serena Williams said she would head to London "pretty soon" to start preparation for Wimbledon after being dumped out of the French Open by Elena Rybakina.

Rybakina, who represents Kazakhstan, had not previously been past the second round at Roland Garros but she was in superb form against 23-time grand slam winner Williams, storming to a 6-3 7-5 win in one hour and 19 minutes to reach the quarter-finals.

Russian-born Rybakina was excellent value for her stunning win on Sunday, converting five of her seven break points and winning almost 60 per cent of points returning Williams' second serve.

Far from being disappointed at her early exit, Williams said she was just pleased to have put together a run of three consecutive wins on clay before Sunday's defeat.

"I got some good matches in here," Williams told a media conference. "I did not have the best clay-court season, but it was good to finally get some wins on clay. I'm in a much better place than when I got here.

"It was definitely close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match. I'm not winning those points. That literally could just change everything."

Asked if it might be her final French Open match, the 39-year-old American said: "I'm definitely not thinking about it at all. I'm definitely thinking just about other things but not about that."

One of those "other things" will be Wimbledon, where she has been a singles champion seven times. Asked when she would travel to London for the tournament that begins on June 28, Williams said: "[I will] possibly go home and regroup and then get ready for London. But I don't know. I have to get there early for quarantine, so, yeah, it has to be pretty soon."

Rybakina, who will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarter-finals, had never faced Williams before.

She said: "When I was small, of course I was watching her matches on TV. It's difficult to expect anything because you watch on TV and it's completely different when you come on court and you feel the power and everything. I knew that the serve was going to be difficult for me to return. She's powerful, but I was ready."

PAVLYUCHENKOVA ENDS LONG WAIT FOR LAST-EIGHT SPOT

Pavlyuchenkova reached the quarter-finals of the French Open for the first time in 10 years with a 5-7 6-3 6-2 victory over 15th seed Victoria Azarenka.

It is the seventh grand slam quarter-final for Pavlyuchenkova, who is seeded 31st at Roland Garros, and her first outside Australia in five years.

The Russian had lost to Azarenka in five of their last six matches and looked set for more disappointment when the Belarusian powered back from 3-1 down to take the first set.

However, Pavlyuchenkova fought back in style, hitting 24 winners and making just 11 unforced errors over the next two sets to book her last-eight spot in two hours and nine minutes.

"It's tough to remember what I felt like 10 years ago," she said. "I'd say completely different. I'm very happy also now. I think I feel a little different. I feel more mature. It's a good moment, I'm enjoying it, but I've got work to do.

"I hope I show more maturity as well, smarter tennis, more consistent. I feel quite fit as well, considering the fact that I'm not the youngest on tour now.

"I know what I have to do and I know what I want to do; I'm trying to work for that."

Reflecting on her defeat, Azarenka said: "There's always some positives. The most positive thing I will say from this week, not the whole season, is that I've been able to play pain free. That was my goal here. Everything else is something that can be analysed later."

BADOSA AND ZIDANESK REACH QUARTER-FINALS FOR FIRST TIME

Paula Badosa will compete in her first grand slam quarter-final after overcoming 20th seed Marketa Vondrousova 6-4 3-6 6-2.

Badosa, who reached the semi-finals in Charleston and Madrid before picking up her maiden title in Belgrade a fortnight ago, saved six of the nine break points she faced and converted five of the 10 she forced on her opponent's serve.

"I always thought that tennis is 80 per cent mental," the Spanish 33rd seed said. "I think when you're in these rounds, of course the racket is important, how you play, it's very important.

"I think it's a little bit more important how you manage all the nerves in the important moments. I think when you're here, the mental thing, it's a little bit the key."

She will face world number 85 Tamara Zidanesk, who became the first player representing Slovenia to reach the last eight of a grand slam thanks to a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win over Sorana Cirstea.

The best previous major performance by a player representing Slovenia had been the three fourth-round runs by Katarina Srebotnik at Roland Garros in 2002 and 2008, and the US Open in 2008.

"I'm getting a lot of messages that everyone is watching," Zidansek said. "It means a lot to me that I'm able to get across to the message to young people and everyone in Slovenia that we can do it.

"We're a small country; we don't have that many players, but we have good players."

Serena Williams played down her prospects of winning a record-equalling 24th grand slam title at the French Open, insisting the standard on the WTA Tour is now so high that every match is a battle.

The three-time champion at Roland Garros made it through to the last 16 thanks to a 6-4 6-4 win over Danielle Collins.

However, the American - who has been stuck one slam behind Margaret Court's career tally ever since winning the 2017 Australian Open - had to work hard on Friday, including battling back from 4-1 down in the second set as she reeled off five games in a row to move on.

Williams is the only top-10 player left in her half of the draw following Aryna Sabalenka's exit earlier in the day, yet knows there is a long way to go in her quest to reign once more in the Paris.

"There's still a lot of matches, a lot of great players, as we can see," Williams told the media.

"There's so much depth in this game now, it doesn't matter if you're playing in the first round or not, you really have to fight for every match and nothing comes easy."

After struggling for form coming into the tournament, Williams feels tough contests like the one she had against Collins can only be beneficial.

"Today in particular, this whole week thus far, I just needed a win," the seventh seed said. "I needed to win tough matches. I needed to win sets. I needed to win being down.

"I needed to find me, know who I am. Nobody else is Serena out here. It's me. It's pretty cool."

Elena Rybakina – an impressive 6-1 6-4 winner against Elena Vesnina in little over an hour - is the next hurdle for Williams to clear.

SABALENKA SUNK, AZARENKA EASES THROUGH

With Ashleigh Barty forced to retire through injury and Naomi Osaka withdrawing from the event due to mental health concerns, Sabalenka was the highest seed left – well, she was until coming up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

Sabalenka rallied after losing the first set to draw level but then fell apart in the decider, serving four double faults and producing 17 unforced errors.

Pavlyuchenkova capitalised to complete a 6-4 2-6 6-0 triumph that avenges a loss to her opponent at the semi-final stage in Madrid during this year's clay-court swing.

Next up for the 31st seed will be Victoria Azarenka, the former world number one who eased past Madison Keys 6-2 6-2.

"I felt I played very disciplined today. I played smart. I tried to be aggressive," Azarenka said after winning in 70 minutes.

"My opponent, Madison, she really likes to dictate the points, so I tried to take that away from her, really step in, and make a lot of different balls so I’m pretty proud I was able to sustain my level."

MIXED FORTUNES FOR ROMANIAN DUO

Sorana Cirstea explained how a change in approach has helped her roll back the years after overcoming Daria Kasatkina in straight sets.

The Romanian's solitary quarter-final appearance at a slam came in the French capital 12 years ago but she has been in excellent form on clay this year, including claiming a title in Istanbul and a final appearance in Strasbourg.

"I'm taking it day by day, like I'm not going too far ahead with my mind," Cirstea told the media. "I'm actually enjoying all this process. Definitely I'm enjoying [it] much more than I did 12 years ago, and I think this comes with maturity."

While Cirstea has not made it this far in a grand slam for a long while, next opponent Tamara Zidansek is into the last 16 at a major for the first time.

Despite losing the first set in a hurry against Katerina Siniakova, the Slovenian rallied impressively to seal a 0-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 victory and continue an impressive run that was started by an upset over Bianca Andreescu.

Paula Badosa also needed three sets to overcome Romania's Ana Bogdan, including saving a match point, and extend her winning streak to eight matches as she came out on top 2-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-4. Indeed, for the season she now boasts a 16-2 record on clay.

Barbora Krejcikova clinched a first Tour-level singles title of her career as she dispatched Sorana Cirstea 6-3 6-3 in the final of the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

World number 38 Krejcikova lost to Garbine Muguruza in the Dubai Tennis Championships final in March but suffered no such disappointment this time around, overcoming her Romanian opponent in one hour and 41 minutes.

Cirstea was in fine form this week following her Istanbul success, but the world number 61 was on the back foot from the off after losing her first two service games, offering up six break points in the process as Krejcikova reeled off four games in a row.

Krejcikova squandered two set points as Cirstea broke back, but the Czech took the lead at the third time of asking.

Cirstea rallied straight away in the second set, yet problems on her own serve continued as she suffered successive breaks and those errors ultimately handed Krejcikova an advantage she did not relinquish, with the 25-year-old sealing her maiden title with a powerful cross-court forehand.

Sorana Cirstea and Barbora Krejcikova will do battle in the Internationaux de Strasbourg final after overcoming tough tests in their respective semi-finals.

Handed a quarter-final walkover due to the withdrawal of top seed Bianca Andreescu due to injury earlier in the week, Cirstea fell behind to Poland's Magda Linette on Friday, but hit back to win 3-6 6-4 6-2.

Cirstea, world number 61, is in the hunt for her second title of the season after her success in Istanbul last month – a trophy that ended a barren run of over 12 years for the Romanian.

The 31-year-old will face stern competition from fifth seed Krejcikova, however.

Krejcikova is in the hunt for her maiden Tour-level triumph, after falling short at the final hurdle in Dubai in March.

She too needed three sets to claim a place in the final, with world number 216 Jule Niemeier pushing Krejcikova all the way.

However, the Czech – ranked at 38th in the world by the WTA – rallied after losing the first set 7-5.

Having clinically taken the three break points on offer to her in set two, Krejcikova broke for a final time to make it 4-3 in the decider – a lead she would not relinquish as she prevailed 5-7 6-3 6-4.

Unseeded duo Sorana Cirstea and Jule Niemeier marched into the semi-finals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Thursday.

Romanian Cirstea emphatically beat eighth seed Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-1 and moved into the last four after Bianca Andreescu withdrew following her second-round success over Maryna Zanevska due to an abdominal injury.

Cirstea lost only seven of the 31 points on her first serve and did not face a solitary break point in an impressive victory ahead of the French Open.

She broke Zhang on four occasions and will do battle with Magda Linette for a place in the final.

Linette took out fourth seed Yulia Putintseva 6-3 6-3, breaking once in the first set and three times in the second.

Qualifier Niemeier upset seventh seed Shelby Rogers, completing a 6-4 7-6 (8-6) victory following a rain delay. 

The German will look to pull off another surprise when she faces Barbora Krejcikova, who eliminated Ekaterina Alexandrova with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 victory.

Page 1 of 2
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.