Petra Kvitova moved a step closer to a second successive appearance in the Qatar Open final after overcoming Anett Kontaveit on Thursday. 

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova lost to Aryna Sabalenka in the 2020 final but has looked on top form throughout the week in Doha. 

Kontaveit proved a tough opponent for the fourth seed, however, and Kvitova – the 2018 champion – needed three sets to progress 6-3 3-6 6-2. 

"I'm really glad that after losing the second set, which I probably didn't play the best, I started very well in the third," said Kvitova. 

"I learned that the return was pretty good from my side. I was going for it – first point, first shot – and I think that made a big difference. In the rally, it was 50-50 and anybody could win it, but when I put the pressure from my return, it was really very nice."

Her reward is a semi-final tie with qualifier Jessica Pegula, who caused an upset by defeating second seed Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-1. 

Pegula reached the Australian Open quarter-finals last month and played with supreme confidence to oust the 2017 champion and reach her maiden semi-final at a WTA 500 event. 

The other half of the draw will see Victoria Azarenka taking on Garbine Muguruza. 

Azarenka triumphed 6-2 6-4 over top seed Elina Svitolina, with the two-time Doha champion maintaining her unbeaten record against the Ukrainian to reach the 60th WTA semi-final of her career. 

Muguruza, meanwhile, battled past Maria Sakkari 6-3 6-1 to complete the last four. 

At the Lyon Open, French duo Kristina Mladenovic and Clara Burel booked their places in the last eight, beating Margarita Gasparyan and Aliaksandra Sasnovich respectively. 

Spaniard Paula Badosa awaits Mladenovic, while teenage wildcard Burel takes on compatriot and second seed Fiona Ferro in what is her first WTA quarter-final. 

There were also victories for Greet Minnen and Viktorija Golubic.

Garbine Muguruza made clear she is "fighting for trophies" on the WTA Tour after knocking out defending champion Aryna Sabalenka at the Qatar Open. 

Muguruza prevailed in a high-quality contest that required a third set to decide the outcome, the world number 16 and two-time grand slam champion eventually triumphing 6-2 6-7 (7-5) 6-3 after two hours, 18 minutes on court. 

Sabalenka had won their only previous meeting but the third seed saw her hopes of retaining the trophy dashed, not helped by only managing to convert four of the 13 break-point opportunities she created in the match. 

Muguruza – who matched 41 winners with the same number of unforced errors – finished in fine style, claiming the final four games in a row to set up a meeting with Maria Sakkari, who defeated Madison Keys in straight sets. 

"I'm very motivated to play top players," Muguruza said in her post-match press conference, according to the WTA Tour's website. "Like everybody, I worked hard. I'm fighting for trophies, to play well in big tournaments, in good tournaments. 

"Today I was facing a top player, and I knew I have to go out there with a big, fighting spirit, and be strong to be able to win against these tough opponents." 

While the 2020 winner is no longer involved, former champions Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova both made it beyond the second round with straight-sets wins in Wednesday's action. 

Azarenka, who claimed the title in 2012 and then returned to successfully retain it a year later, saw off qualifier Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-2. 

Kvitova, meanwhile, eased past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. The fourth seed went all the way in 2018 and is now into the last eight this year – a 6-1 6-3 result paving the way for a clash with Anett Kontaveit.

Top seed Elina Svitolina is also through – and will face Azarenka next – after needing little over an hour to defeat Misaki Doi 6-1 6-2.

Karolina Pliskova, the second seed, found life far tougher against Ons Jabeur however, eventually coming out on top 6-4 4-6 7-5 in a thriller.

Meanwhile, at the Lyon Open, second seed Fiona Ferro progressed to the last eight on home soil after opponent Tereza Martincova was forced to retire when 4-1 down in the second set, having already lost the opener too.

Alize Cornet is another French favourite hoping to make home advantage tell in the tournament; the fifth seed rallied from a set down to beat compatriot Clara Burel 1-6 6-1 6-3. 

Andy Murray slumped to defeat to Andrey Rublev at the Rotterdam Open, where both Alexander Zverev and top seed Daniil Medvedev crashed out in Wednesday's action.

Rublev – defeated by Medvedev in the Australian Open quarter-finals – booked his place in the last eight with a clinical 7-5 6-2 victory over the former world number one. 

The world number eight hailed Murray as a "true legend" ahead of the clash, with the Russian and Scot having previously met only once before. 

Murray, then at the peak of his powers, came out on top in the second round of the 2017 Australian Open, thought it was a far different story this time around, Rublev dispatching his opponent with relative ease. 

Rublev saved all three break points that Murray managed to create during proceedings, breaking twice in the second set before wrapping up the win at the first opportunity.

Dusan Lajovic put in an impressive display as he registered a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 victory over Medvedev. 

A run to the Rotterdam final would have moved Medvedev up to world number two, yet the Australian Open runner-up was well shy of his best. 

The Russian led by a break in the first set, only for Lajovic to hit back to square things up at 3-3, with the Serbian winning the tie-break when Medvedev double-faulted. 

Lajovic looked to have the odds stacked against him early in the second set, yet ultimately fought back again following another unforced error from the world number three to claim his second career win over Medvedev.

Lajovic will now face Borna Coric to tee up a tie with Kei Nishikori, who followed up his opening win over Felix Auger-Aliassime by beating Alex de Minaur 6-3 2-6 7-5 to clinch a quarter-final spot. 

The other shock result during the day came in the form of world number seven Zverev losing 7-5 6-3 to Alexander Bublik. 

It was the biggest win of Bublik's career, with the world number 43 - a finalist at the Singapore Open on Sunday - having now triumphed in his last three matches against top-10 opponents. 

Zverev was playing for the first time since a quarter-final defeat to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne last month. 

Bublik will face American Tommy Paul in the next round, while David Goffin beat Jan-Lennard Struff and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina got the better of compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut. 

Andrey Rublev will face Andy Murray at the Rotterdam Open after the Russian battled past Marcos Giron 7-6 (7-1) 6-3.

The appetising showdown between Rublev and former world number one Murray was handed a primetime evening slot on Wednesday's schedule by tournament organisers, given the appeal of a clash between one of the ATP Tour's brightest younger stars and the three-time grand slam winner.

World number eight Rublev is, at the age of 23, among the band of players who have emerged as potential torchbearers for the men's tour once the likes of Murray and the big three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic make way.

After wildcard Murray's win over Robin Haase on Monday, Rublev secured victory on Tuesday against 80th-ranked Giron, who earned his place in the ATP 500 tournament through qualifying.

Murray and Rublev have played only once before, in entirely different circumstances to those surrounding Wednesday's match. That previous encounter came at the Australian Open in 2017, with Murray, then ranked number one in the world, scorching to a 6-3 6-0 6-2 win in round two.

The Scot has since undergone major surgery on a hip problem that has threatened to end his career, and heads into his clash with Rublev ranked 123rd in the world but eager to show he can compete at a high level.

"Andy is a true legend and I have a really good connection with him. I really like him as a person and as a player. He destroyed me once in the past. I'm sure we'll have great, long rallies and it will be a fight," Rublev said, quoted via the ATP website.

Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas passed his first-round test by scoring a narrow win over a player that beat Murray in Montpellier last week – the second seed and world number six overcoming Belarusian Egor Gerasimov 7-6 (7-4) 7-5.

The tournament lost a three-time grand slam champion when Stan Wawrinka was edged out 6-4 7-5 by Russian Karen Khachanov in a tough first-round matchup for the Swiss, who sits just one place above the Russian at number 20 in the world rankings.

Alex de Minaur beat fellow Australian John Millman 6-1 6-4, while top seed Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev begins his challenge on Wednesday when he tackles Serbian Dusan Lajovic.

Madison Keys is intent on giving Maria Sakkari a second-round test after marking her first WTA Tour appearance since September with a clinical win at the Qatar Open.

American world number 19 Keys, who reached the US Open final in 2017, had not played on tour since losing to Zhang Shuai in the first round of the French Open in late September – she was ruled out of the Australian swing of this season after a positive coronavirus test.

But Keys roared back to action with a thumping 6-4 6-1 victory over Belinda Bencic on Tuesday, the Swiss who last week reached the Adelaide International final.

"I'm really happy with how I came out and played today," Keys said. "I'm a little bit surprised with myself but hoping to keep the momentum going."

Sakkari promises to pose a tricky test for Keys, who is unseeded this week, given the Greek player dropped only three games in her opening win over Mayar Sherif and has shown bright early-season form.

World number 23 Elena Rybakina tripped up in the first round after the Moscow-born Kazakh player lost 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-5) to Germany's 56th-ranked Laura Siegemund at the WTA Premier event.

Jessie Pegula, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Ons Jabeur and Misaki Doi also scored straight-sets victories in Doha.

At the Lyon Open, French players Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic were both pushed to three sets before inking their places in the last 16.

Third seed Garcia edged compatriot Oceane Dodin 6-2 2-6 6-3, while fourth seed Mladenovic scrambled for a 5-7 7-5 6-2 win over Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Former Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard, in on a wildcard, was bounced out 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 by Aliaksandra Sasnovich, the world number 96 from Belarus.

Three-time grand slam winner Andy Murray revealed he deleted his social media apps after being inspired by The Social Dilemma documentary, rather than constant abuse he receives about retiring.

The 33-year-old claimed his first ATP Tour victory in six months on Monday, winning 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 over fellow wildcard Robin Haase in just under two and a half hours at the Rotterdam Open.

The past few years for Murray, who missed last month's Australian Open after testing positive to COVID-19, have seen him battle hip issues, before getting a metal cap inserted to strengthen the area.

Since then, the Scot been unable to reach the levels that previously saw him win major titles and be world number one, leading to constant calls for him to retire, particularly on social media.

"Actually, I deleted it, I don't have Twitter on my phone and I deleted Instagram last week, not because of that [the retirement comments]," Murray said.

"You see those things on Instagram and social media if you're on it, obviously and if you have the app on your phone but I'd watched a while ago that Social Dilemma movie.

"I thought it was brilliant and then actually, a couple of days after my match last week I watched an interview with all the people that were responsible for making that and I was like, 'Yeah, I’m done'. I deleted that off my phone but yes, it's tough."

Murray admitted his return from his injury battles had been physically taxing, while the mental toll had not been easy to handle either.

However, he felt he performed well enough to offer him no genuine reason to want to retire from the Tour.

"Since I came back and started playing with the metal hip, I’ve beaten some pretty good players," he said.

"I beat Stan [Wawrinka], I beat [Matteo] Berrettini, I beat [Alex] Zverev. I served for the match against [Fabio] Fognini. These are top players that I was playing against and competing well against and physically now I'm in a better place than I was then.

"I've put in a lot of good physical work since then so why should I stop because I lost a match last week against someone [Egor Gerasimov] that people would expect me to win against.

"Everyone out there can play and because I'm not on the top of my game just now, and once I get there I believe I'll win matches more competitively.

"Why should I stop? Tell me a good reason for why I should stop playing. I can still compete with the best players in the world with one hip. I think that's quite amusing really."

Andy Murray produced a stirring comeback in the final set to overcome fellow wildcard Robin Haase at the Rotterdam Open on Monday.  

Murray, who was dumped out in the first round of last week's Open Sud de France, hit 33 winners on his way to a 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 triumph – his first tour-level victory since the 2020 US Open.  

The Scot got off to a slow start and found himself 4-1 down in the first set, with home favourite Haase comfortably seeing things out from there in the opener.  

Murray needed a tie-break to take the second set before finding himself 3-0 down in the decider. However, he put together a stunning six-game run to claim a fifth career victory over Haas in six meetings.

Next up will be either number four seed Andrey Rublev or qualifier Marcos Giron in the second round. 

Elsewhere, Kei Nishikori ended a run of four straight defeats with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 victory over seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime to set up a clash against Alex de Minaur or John Millman.  

"It was a very tight game, he was serving great especially in the first set and he won a lot on first serve," Nishikori said. "I played solidly in the tie-break and served well on the last couple of points. It was easier in the second set, with his injury, but I was more comfortable and striking the ball better." 

Murray's compatriot Cameron Norrie, meanwhile, cruised past Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-0 6-3 and will play Stan Wawrinka or Karen Khachanov in the next round. 

Andy Murray produced a stirring comeback in the final set to overcome fellow wildcard Robin Haase at the Rotterdam Open on Monday.  

Murray, who was dumped out in the first round of last week's Open Sud de France, hit 33 winners on his way to a 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 triumph – his first tour-level victory since the 2020 US Open.  

The Scot got off to a slow start and found himself 4-1 down in the first set, with home favourite Haase comfortably seeing things out from there in the opener.  

Murray needed a tie-break to take the second set before finding himself 3-0 down in the decider. However, he put together a stunning six-game run to claim a fifth career victory over Haas in six meetings.

Next up will be either number four seed Andrey Rublev or qualifier Marcos Giron in the second round. 

Elsewhere, Kei Nishikori ended a run of four straight defeats with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 victory over seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime to set up a clash against Alex de Minaur or John Millman.  

"It was a very tight game, he was serving great especially in the first set and he won a lot on first serve," Nishikori said. "I played solidly in the tie-break and served well on the last couple of points. It was easier in the second set, with his injury, but I was more comfortable and striking the ball better." 

Murray's compatriot Cameron Norrie, meanwhile, cruised past Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-0 6-3 and will play Stan Wawrinka or Karen Khachanov in the next round. 

Victoria Azarenka booked her spot in the second round of the Qatar Open with a 6-2 6-3 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday. 

It was the first time the pair had faced off since the final of the 2016 Miami Open and Azarenka, who won back-to-back titles in Doha in 2012 and 2013, struck first, eventually claiming the opening set in 44 minutes. 

She needed six match points to see off Kuznetsova in the second set to tee up a last-16 meeting with either Laura Siegemund or Elena Rybakina. 

There was also a win for former world number one Garbine Muguruza, who defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-2 7-6 (7-4).

"Veronika was a very tough opponent," Muguruza told a media conference. "[I'm] just happy with this win. We played a year ago, and I remember it was a tough match. I'm happy to have closed it in two sets."

Fifth seed Kiki Bertens, meanwhile, was dumped out by a rampant Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets. 

The 2017 French Open champion hit 26 winners on her way to an emphatic 6-0 6-2 win against her Dutch opponent, who was playing her first match in five months following Achilles surgery. 

Anett Kontaveit overcame number seven seed beaten Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady 6-1 6-2 to set up a second-round clash with Angelique Kerber, who beat Cagla Buyukakcay 6-4 6-2.

In the day's other match, Maria Sakkari beat Mayar Sherif 6-0 6-3. 

Meanwhile, teenage qualifier Clara Tauson shocked number one seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-4 in the first round of the Lyon Open. 

There were also wins for Arantxa Rus, Nina Stojanovic, Timea Babos, Greet Minnen and Fiona Ferro in France. 

Argentine teenager Juan Manuel Cerundolo celebrated an historic ATP Tour debut with a Cordoba Open title.

Cerundolo capped a dream week in Buenos Aires, where the 19-year-old qualifier upstaged fifth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-0 2-6 6-2 in Sunday's final.

With the memorable triumph, Cerundolo became the only Argentinian in the Open Era to win a title in their tour-level debut.

Cerundolo also became the youngest ATP Tour champion from Argentina since 2001 and the first player to win on their bow since 2004.

The world number 335 – who had only played 14 matches on the Challenger Tour, owning a 7-7 record – is the fifth-lowest ranked winner in ATP Tour history.

 

Serena Williams showed there would be no letting up in her relentless pursuit of tennis history as she hit the practice courts with one of the biggest names on the men's tour.

A semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open was the latest blow for Williams in her attempt to match Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles.

Stuck on 23 since winning at Melbourne Park in 2017, Williams has gone repeatedly close in the subsequent years without getting her hands on a major trophy.

She took to the courts with Bulgarian ace Grigor Dimitrov, a beaten quarter-finalist in Australia and former world number three, as part of her continuing bid to keep improving and stay focused on those title goals.

Dimitrov could not resist boasting about the prowess of the player he was hitting with, posting a video of their session and writing on Instagram: "My practice partner is better than yours."

He added a goat emoji, signalling his belief that Williams is the greatest of all time.

Williams gestured a fond goodbye to the Australian Open crowds after her loss to Osaka, and became tearful in an after-match news conference when asked if it was a final farewell.

"I don't know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn't tell anyone," said the 39-year-old.

Her next appearance on tour is expected to be at the Miami Open, starting on March 23, a tournament which has confirmed Williams, Osaka, Bianca Andreescu and Simona Halep among its field.

There was a little sibling envy from Venus Williams on Sunday when she questioned where Serena and Dimitrov were rallying.

"Omg are you guys hitting now? Where is my invite??" Venus wrote.

The next grand slam on the calendar is the French Open, beginning on May 23, while Serena may see Wimbledon, beginning on June 28, as providing her best chance of another slam.

She has won seven times at the All England Club, two behind the record held by Martina Navratilova.

David Goffin beat Roberto Bautista Agut in the Open Sud de France final to win his first title on the ATP Tour since 2017.

The Belgian came from a set down to prevail 5-7 6-4 6-2, securing a fourth consecutive win over Bautista Agut.

It made him just the third non-Frenchman to lift the trophy in Montpellier, following in the footsteps of Tomas Berdych and Alexander Zverev.

The world number five sent down 13 aces and converted four of his seven break points en route to his fifth tournament win.

Alexei Popyrin claimed his maiden ATP Tour title with victory over Alexander Bublik in the final of the Singapore Tennis Open.

Popyrin, who stunned Marin Cilic in the last four, triumphed 4-6 6-0 6-2.

The Australian lost only six points on his serve, wrapping up the win in 84 minutes.

"It feels unbelievable," said Popyrin. "A lot of sacrifice, a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work went into this from myself, my team and my whole entire family.

"I have done it for everybody who was involved. I am just so proud that I could actually get it done."

David Goffin moved a step closer to ending his ATP Tour title drought by seeing off the challenge of Egor Gerasimov at the Open Sud de France. 

Having previously lost in two semi-final appearances at the tournament in Montpellier, Goffin made it third time lucky as he came out on top in a deciding set against his opponent from Belarus. 

The second seed claimed the crucial break in the seventh game, then quickly consolidated his lead with an impressive hold. Gerasimov forced him to serve out for the win and Goffin duly delivered under pressure, clinching on his second match point. 

The world number 15 – who won two of his four career titles in 2017, but none since - will next face Roberto Bautista Agut, who defeated Peter Gojowczyk 7-5 6-1 after just one hour and 16 minutes on court.

At the Singapore Tennis Open, Alexei Popyrin caused an upset as he defeated Marin Cilic via a pair of tie-breaks in a hard-fought semi-final. 

Popyrin prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-2) to knock out Cilic, who had survived two match points before eventually beating Kwon Soon-woo in the previous round. 

Alexander Bublik is also through to the final, guaranteeing a first-time winner on the ATP Tour at the tournament. 

Bublik made the final of the Antalya Open earlier this year but had to retire due to an ankle injury. He will hope for better fortunes on Sunday, securing another opportunity for a maiden title after battling back from a set down to see off Radu Albot. 

Marin Cilic survived match point en route to defeating Kwon Soon-woo and booking his place in the Singapore Tennis Open semi-finals on Friday.

The former world number three is aiming to become the sixth active player to reach 20 titles on the ATP Tour this week but was staring down the barrel when trailing 5-4 in the deciding set.

But Cilic survived to record a 6-2 2-6 7-5 win against his Korean opponent and earn a last-four date with Alexei Popyrin, following the Australian's straight-sets win over compatriot Matthew Ebden.

"I think that the third set was solid from the both of us, it was a great match and it went to the end," Cilic said. "At 5-5 [in the third set], I kept my focus and felt that I was going to get my chance. 

"There were a few break opportunities that I couldn't convert, but on the third one, I hit a great return."

Radu Albot is into a first ATP Tour semi-final in 19 months after knocking out top seed Adrian Mannarino 6-3 6-4. His reward is a semi-final with Alexander Bublik, who overcame fifth seed Yoshihito Nishioka in straight sets.

At the Open Sud de France, top seed Roberto Bautista Agut made short work of Ugo Humbert in a 6-3 6-3 win. He next faces Peter Gojowczyk after the German routed Dennis Novak 6-4 6-1.

Second seed David Goffin cruised past Lorenzo Sonego 6-4 6-4 and will play Egor Gerasimov in the last four after his three-sets win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Former champion Michael Stich urged tennis stars to "consider themselves lucky" when Wimbledon returns after last year's cancellation.

Prospects of the tournament going ahead in front of London crowds appear suddenly bright, with lockdown restrictions due to be lifted over the coming months.

There may still be restrictions on travel into the United Kingdom from abroad, however, by the time Wimbledon comes around. The fortnight-long tournament is due to begin on June 28, one week after all COVID-19 restrictions on daily life are scheduled to end in England.

Wimbledon has said it is planning for "scenarios of full, reduced and no public capacity", and it may be the ferrying of thousands of players and their support teams to the tournament that proves the greatest logistical headache.

The grass-court major was scrapped last year amid the pandemic, not taking place for the first time since the second World War.

The Australian Open quarantined for 14 days all the tennis players, entourages and officials who arrived in the country ahead of the recent grand slam in Melbourne, which led to some grumbling among tour stars.

Men's champion Novak Djokovic later said many players were reluctant to continue with the season if being confined to a hotel room was going to become the norm.

Stich, who beat fellow German Boris Becker in the 1991 Wimbledon final, says tennis pros should be grateful they have the opportunity to make a living, even if it means making a sacrifice. Given the proximity of the French Open to Wimbledon on the calendar, elite players may face plenty of time cut off from friends and family.

"I still believe that all the players should consider themselves lucky to actually be able to go to work. We do have a lot of sports competitions that do not have this luxury," Stich told Stats Perform News.

"Therefore, five weeks of quarantine might be a high burden for sure, I couldn't imagine that. But still, to actually participate in a tournament and to earn money through playing in that tournament, which is vital for many people these days, is definitely a present.

"We will have to wait and see what will happen to the pandemic and which scenarios we can create to play there. In Europe, the distances are small, so players should think about their travel arrangements.

"If players are, for example, in quarantine [at grass-court tournaments] in Stuttgart or Halle, they can enter the country through a transport method that can exclude themselves from the masses - then it is basically as if they entered a consistent quarantine.

"Maybe then it can become possible. I truly wish that Wimbledon will go ahead for the players and primarily for the fans."

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