France's Billie Jean King Cup defence ended at the hands of the Russian Tennis Federation, who will meet the United States in the semi-finals after Wednesday's play in Prague. 

Clara Burel put France on course for the 3-0 victory they needed to advance from Group A with a three-set victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova, but Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova outlasted Alize Cornet in the second rubber to ensure a new champion will be crowned. 

Pavlyuchenkova saved six of 10 break points and racked up an impressive 34 winners en route to a crucial 5-7 6-4 6-2 success against Cornet. 

"I'm so, so happy and so proud of myself because I think it was an incredible match. It was very good tennis but more importantly I think it was an amazing fighting spirit from both of us," said Pavlyuchenkova. 

"We were like two tigers. Nobody wanted to give the other anything and I think that's what matters. That's the sport we're playing." 

Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova comfortably defeated Cornet and Burel in the doubles to consign the reigning champions to a 2-1 defeat. 

The RTF will go up against the USA in the first semi-final, with the Americans comfortably seeing off Spain in the singles rubbers. 

Sloane Stephens bested Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-4 6-4 before Danielle Collins swept Sara Sorribes Tormo aside 6-1 6-0 in under an hour. 

Collins won 83 per cent of points behind her first serve and forced Sorribes Tormo into 24 errors during a resounding victory. 

Spain avoided a 3-0 defeat, though, with Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova beating Caroline Dolehide and CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3 6-4 in the doubles rubber. 

Petra Kvitova was one of a handful of seeded players to take the court at the Western and Southern Open on Monday and came away victorious against a past champion of the event. 

The 11th-seeded Kvitova defeated 2019 Western and Southern winner Madison Keys 7-5 6-4 on a rain-plagued opening day of main-draw play at the tournament outside Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The Czech saved eight of nine break points against her serve while breaking Keys three times, and that was enough to pull out the victory. 

Kvitova's countrywoman Barbora Krejcikova, the ninth seed, made her singles debut at the WTA 1000 event with a 6-3 6-2 rout of Daria Kasatkina. 

Fifteenth seed Elise Mertens also was a straight-sets winner, taking down Nadia Podoroska 6-3 6-4, while 13th seed Jennifer Brady defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in a match that finished shortly before 1 a.m. local time.

Though only Krejcikova was in action Monday, the field in Cincinnati includes nine of the top 10 players in the rankings, led by Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka in their first appearances since the Tokyo Olympics. 

In other matches on the first day of play, Heather Watson defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 3-6 6-1, while Paula Badosa outlasted Petra Martic 4-6 6-4 7-6 (11-9) in a two-hour, 34-minute marathon. 

Yulia Putintseva breezed past Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-0, Jelena Ostapenko beat Tamara Zidansek 7-5 6-1 and Jil Teichmann downed Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-0. 

Angelique Kerber beat Maria Sakkari 6-2 6-2, with Alison Riske matching that scoreline in a defeat of Leylah Fernandez.

Shelby Rogers won 6-4 2-1 when her countrywoman Danielle Collins retired with an injury. 

Local hope and reigning champion Bianca Andreescu blew an early lead as she was toppled by Ons Jabeur in the Round of 16 at the National Bank Open in Montreal.

Tunisian 13th seed Jabeur defeated the Canadian second seed 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-1 in two hours and 39 minutes on Thursday.

The come-from-behind triumph was the second time in two matches that the Tunisian has rallied from a set down to win after beating Daria Kasatkina in three.

Jabeur had twice been a break up in the opening set before Andreescu claimed it in an tiebreak.

The 26-year-old Tunisian, who made the Wimbledon quarter-finals this year, responded by breaking at 5-4 to win the second set.

After Andreescu had an injury scare after landing awkwardly on her left foot late in the second set, Jabeur dominated the third, finishing by winning eight of the final nine games.

Jabeur finished with 9-3 aces and was more effective on serve, going at an 81.6 win percentage on her first serve (40 from 49 points).

The lower side of the draw has opened up for the Tunisian who will face Jessica Pegula in the quarter-finals after the unseeded American defeated countrywoman Danielle Collins 6-4 3-6 7-5.

Two-time Wimbledon champion and seventh seed Petra Kvitova was knocked out in a shock by Italian Camila Giorgi in straight sets.

Giorgi, ranked 71st in the world, won 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 36 minutes and will face Cori Gauff in the quarter-finals after she had another walkover against Johanna Konta.

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka had no such problems, cruising past Canadian Rebecca Marino 6-1 6-3 inside an hour.

Sabalenka sets up a quarter-final clash with fellow Belarussian and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka got past Greek 11th seed Maria Sakkari in three sets, 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2).

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova got past Amanda Anisimova 6-1 7-6 (10-8) and will play Sara Sorribes Tormo in the last eight after she won in three sets over Katerina Siniakova.

Two-time Grand Slam winner Simona Halep's return to the WTA Tour ended in defeat to American Danielle Collins in almost three hours in the National Bank Open in Montreal on Wednesday.

World number 28 Collins triumphed 2-6 6-4 6-4 over the sixth seed Romanian, with the second-round match lasting two hours and 55 minutes.

Halep, who is a two-time winner in Montreal, was returning to the Tour for the first time in three months since suffering a calf tear against Angelique Kerber in Rome.

Collins, who has won titles recently in San Jose and Palermo, loomed as a tough first-up test for Halep, who broke twice to win the first set 6-2 as she generated eight break points to one.

The game turned from then on, as Collins sent down 4-1 aces in the second set and finished with 38 winners for the match.

Tokyo 2020 bronze medalist and third seed Elina Svitolina was bundled out in a second-round shock, losing 3-6 6-3 6-2 to Briton Johanna Konta.

Svitolina boasted a 5-0 record against Konta heading into the match but was beaten in a two-hour-and-11-minute struggle.

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka defeated former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in three sets to secure her third-round spot.

Sabalenka fought back from the brink, rallying to win the last five games and triumph 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-4 over the American wildcard in a two hours and 25 minutes.

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova came from behind to win 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-2) over Donna Vekic, while Jessica Pegula also fought back after a slow start to topple 10th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 1-6 6-3 6-2.

Greek 11th seed Maria Sakkari won in three sets 6-4 6-7 6-4 over Veronika Kudermetova, while 13th seed Ons Jabeur responded after a lopsided first set to win 2-6 6-3 6-4 over Daria Kasatkina.

Cori Gauff progressed after being 5-0 up as Anastasia Potapova retired, while Amanda Anisimova, Camila Giorgi, Rebecca Marino and Sara Sorribes Tormo all won too.

Canadian local hope Marino will take on top seed Sabalenka, while Gauff faces Svitolina's conqueror Konta.

Crowd favourite Bianca Andreescu was made to work as she opened her defence of the National Bank Open title she won two years ago but the Canadian eventually prevailed in Montreal. 

Andreescu defeated Harriet Dart 6-1 3-6 6-3 in just over two hours in her first match since falling to Alize Cornet in the opening around at Wimbledon. 

That was the latest in a disappointing string of results for Andreescu, who also departed Roland Garros after one match, but the world number eight got back on track Tuesday. 

"Playing at home is so, so awesome," Andreescu said in her on-court interview. "You guys [the fans] show me so much love, especially tonight. I've never had this kind of support before, so I'm so, so grateful."

While Andreescu was able to navigate a challenging opener, three other seeded players were not as fortunate. 

Katerina Siniakova downed fifth seed Garbine Muguruza 6-2 0-6 6-3, while Camila Giorgi ousted ninth seed Elise Mertens 6-3 7-5 and Liudmila Samsonova defeated 12th seed Elena Rybakina 6-4 5-7 6-4.

Having a better time of it were seventh-seeded Petra Kvitova, the 2012 tournament champion, and number 10 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who won by identical 6-4 6-4 scorelines against Frenchwomen Fiona Ferro and Carolina Garcia, respectively. 

Eighth-seeded Victoria Azarenka waited out a rain delay to cruise past 2013 finalist Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-2 in the final match of the day. 

In other action, 15th seed Coco Gauff handled Anastasija Sevastova 6-1 6-4 while her countrywoman Danielle Collins continued rolling after her title in San Jose last week, rallying past Jil Teichmann 4-6 6-1 6-3 for her 11th consecutive match win. 

Two more Americans, Sloane Stephens and Jessica Pegula, prevailed in three sets as well. 

Johanna Konta returned to the court after missing Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics due to coronavirus-related issues and advanced when Zhang Shuai was forced to retire up 6-4 2-5 with a leg injury. 

With summer's main events about to begin, no one on the WTA tour is hotter than Danielle Collins. 

Two weeks after winning her maiden title in Palermo, Collins claimed the Silicon Valley Classic crown in San Jose, California by defeating Daria Kasatkina 6-3 6-7 (10-12) 6-1 on Sunday.

It was the 10th successive match victory for the American, who is ranked 36th in the world and poised to move up as the hard-court season intensifies with WTA 1000 events at Montreal and Cincinnati ahead of the U.S. Open. 

While it appeared for a while that Collins would cruise to another easy win, Kasatkina made it a fight in the 73-minute second set. 

The Russian had prevailed in the two previous meetings between the players, and she saved two championship points down 4-5 in the second and three more in winning the tiebreak. 

That marked only the second set Collins has dropped during her 10-match run, the other coming against Sloane Stephens in the second round earlier this week. 

Kasatkina's momentum was short-lived, however, as Collins broke her serve early in the third and never looked back.

Before her clay-court title run at Palermo, Collins had been 0-6 in semi-finals in her career. 

Top seed Elise Mertens was knocked out as Daria Kasatkina won through to the Silicon Valley Classic final where she will meet Danielle Collins.

Fourth seed Kasatkina swept aside world number 17 Mertens in one hour and 21 minutes, winning 6-3 6-2 in San Jose.

The 24-year-old Russian progresses to her fourth final of the WTA season, claiming her third win from four meetings against the Belgian.

The win was former top 10 player Kasatkina's fourth triumph over a top 20 player this year.

Kasatkina broke Mertens three times throughout the match, never dropping her own serve, sending down 4-2 aces.

Mertens was not helped by seven double faults throughout the match, with Kasatkina saving the Belgian's only break point.

Kasatkina will face American seventh seed Danielle Collins who was too good for Ana Konjuh. Collins only needed 52 minutes to win 6-0 6-2 over the Croatian qualifier.

Konjuh struggled on serve throughout, with Collins breaking her six times, while she only won one from 17 points on her second serve.

Top-seeded Elise Mertens rolled into the semi-finals at the Silicon Valley Classic with a 6-3 7-6 (10-8) win over Yulia Putintseva on Friday. 

The Belgian already has collected a pair of grand slam doubles titles this year at the Australian Open and Wimbledon and is seeking her seventh career singles crown. 

She will need to get past fourth seed Daria Kasatkina to have a chance. 

The Russian outlasted Magda Linette 6-4 3-6 6-4 in her quarter-final and is seeking her third title of 2021 after a three-year drought between wins. 

The other semi-final will match seventh seed Danielle Collins against qualifier Ana Konjuh.

Collins pulled out a tight 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) upset of second seed Elena Rybakina to reach the semis in San Jose for the second time. 

The American won her eighth consecutive match after taking the title at Palermo two weeks ago. 

She will meet the only unseeded player remaining, Konjuh, who won the final 10 games of the match to close out Zhang Shuai 3-6 6-2 6-0. 

Top-seeded Elise Mertens pulled out a three-set win to reach the quarter-finals at the Silicon Valley Classic as all four matches went the distance on Thursday.

The Belgian, ranked 17th in the world, prevailed 6-2 4-6 6-4 over Kristina Mladenovic of France in two hours and 40 minutes to advance in San Jose.

She moves on to face the eighth seed, Yulia Putintseva, who rallied past Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6 7-5 6-3 as the Australian blew numerous chances to pull ahead by converting only two of 16 break-point opportunities.

In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Elena Rybakina remained on track with a 2-6 6-0 6-2 victory over American Claire Liu in a rematch of a second-round meeting at Wimbledon.

Rybakina next meets seventh seed Danielle Collins, a 3-6 6-4 6-3 winner over US countrywoman Sloane Stephens.

Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, has slipped to number 67 in the world and was playing in her first tournament since Wimbledon as she prepares for a return to Flushing Meadows.

Danielle Collins eased past Shelby Rogers 6-4 6-3 to book her spot in the second round at the Silicon Valley Classic on Tuesday.

World number 36 Collins proved too strong for American compatriot Rogers, winning in one hour and 25 minutes.

Collins will meet another American in the second round, with Sloane Stephens up next.

Former U.S. Open winner Stephens beat Caty McNally 6-4 6-2 earlier in the day.

Yulia Putintseva, meanwhile, eased her way into the second round with a 7-5 6-3 win over Croatian Donna Vekic.

Putintseva will face Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in the second round after she fought back to overcome Amanda Anisimova 1-6 7-5 7-5.

France's Kristina Mladenovic won 6-4 6-4 over Han Na-Lae, while American Claire Liu won in three sets against Dayana Yastremska.

Mladenovic will face top seed Elise Mertens, while Liu meets second seed Elena Rybakina.

Top seed Danielle Collins sealed her first WTA singles title on Sunday with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Elena-Gabriela Ruse at the Palermo Open.

American Collins, who was top-seeded at a WTA tournament for the first time, did not drop a set all week on her way to a memorable win in Sicily. 

Collins had lost all six of her previous tour-level semi-finals, but she showed superb composure to brush aisde world number 137 Ruse with the minimum of fuss in one hour and 50 minutes. 

The victory meant she became the 14th first-time singles champion on the WTA Tour this season, on the same day Maryna Zanevska became the 13th maiden winner in Gdynia. 

"After everything I've been through, moments where I almost thought about retiring, and after everything we've gone through with the pandemic, it's nice to be able to see the crowd in the stands again," Collins said.

 

French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova marched through to the Prague Open semi-finals following a straight-sets victory over doubles partner Katerina Siniakova.

The in-form second seed has six titles to her name this season; three of which have come alongside Siniakova in doubles events.

Together, they have triumphed at Roland Garros – adding to Krejcikova’s singles success – as well as in Madrid and the Gippsland Trophy.

However, this was their first singles meeting at Tour level, which went with the form book as Krejcikova claimed her 18th win in 19 matches after comfortably prevailing 6-3 6-0.

The home favourite, who is still to drop a set in the Czech capital, will play Wang Xinyu in the semi-finals after the world number 147 beat Grace Min 6-3 6-3.

Serena Williams produced an emphatic fightback in the second set to eliminate Danielle Collins 6-4 6-4 and secure a spot in the last 16 of the French Open.

While the first set provided few difficulties for the 23-time grand slam winner, she found herself trailing 4-1 in the second as Collins threatened to force a decider.

But Williams channelled her frustrations impressively, and far better than her opponent, with the 39-year-old setting up a fourth-round clash with Elena Rybakina.

Williams might have had an early advantage as some brutal returns gave her three break points in just the second game of the match, but Collins came back to hold.

The first break eventually came in the seventh game of the contest, Williams squeezing a shot over after a drop shot, then guiding a return to the back of the court with Collins in no position to respond.

Although a second break in the first set eluded Williams, she sealed the set on her serve soon after.

The second set saw Collins' serve broken in the first game, but her response was emphatic, producing back-to-back breaks of her own.

That had Collins in control of the set at 3-1 up, with Williams' frustration evident at the end of almost every point and not helped by her five double faults, one of which gifted away a second break.

Williams began to use that anger for good as she played even more aggressively.

Initially Collins rode the punches well, playing Williams impressively as she forced the seventh seed out wide and then read her cross-court return to seal the fifth game to love and a 4-1 lead.

But Collins quickly fell apart, Williams winning five games on the trot as she came back from a precarious position to seal her progression, showing commendable mental fortitude along the way.


DATA SLAM: GO BIG OR GO HOME

It is fair to say Williams' serving was a little wild at times – she was looking to be aggressive to put Collins on the back foot as early as possible. However, it left her with as many double faults as aces, five apiece. Nevertheless, the three-time French Open champion got the job done, with a huge serve ultimately sealing the victory.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Williams – 22/20

Collins – 18/21

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Williams – 5/5

Collins – 1/3

BREAK POINTS WON

Williams – 4/8

Collins – 2/4

Sloane Stephens ended her losing run to start the year with a hard-fought three-set win over France's Oceane Dodin in the first round of the Miami Open on Wednesday.

Former US Open champion Stephens, ranked 49th in the world, defeated Dodin 6-7 (6-8) 6-4 6-2.

Stephens progresses to the second round where the top seeds, including top three Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep, will be introduced and she will face 28th seed Amanda Anisimova.

Danielle Collins, Wang Qiang, Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia were among the other winners on Wednesday, while Svetlana Kuznetsova bowed out.

 

SLOANE FIGHTBACK

Stephens had endured a dismal start to 2021, enduring an 0-4 win-loss record to begin the year.

The 28-year-old American was made to do it the hard way against Dodin on Wednesday, dropping the first set in a tie-break.

Stephens improved on her return in the second set, winning 73 per cent of points off Dodin's second serve before running away with the match in the last.

"It's been a rough one for me lately, so I'm really pleased to get through that, fight my way through it and make it happen somehow," Stephens said post-match.

FORMER MAJOR WINNER GONE

Two-time grand slam winner Kuznetsova was the major first-round casualty, going down 2-6 6-2 6-1 to France's Alize Cornet.

Kuznetsova, who is now ranked 35th in the world, bows out with Cornet to face ninth seed Petra Kvitova.

Collins got past France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 6-3 with the 40th-ranked American setting up a second-round clash with 32nd seed Veronika Kudermetova.

Wang, ranked 38th in the world, also progressed despite dropping a set in a 6-1 3-6 6-3 win over Spanish qualifier Aliona Bolsova.

SECOND-ROUND MATCH-UPS

The round of 64 will commence on Thursday, with third seed Halep to face Garcia who got past another Romanian, Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-1 6-2.

Top seed Barty will be in action against Slovakia's Kristina Kucova, while fourth seed Sofia Kenin will take on former top-10 player Andrea Petkovic.

Second seed Osaka has an assignment against 77th-ranked Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, while 14th seed Victoria Azarenka is already into the third round with opponent Laura Siegemund withdrawing after her win on Tuesday.

Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff reached the semi-finals of the Adelaide International with contrasting victories in Thursday's play.  

Reigning French Open champion Swiatek is through to the last four of a tournament for the first time since her success at Roland Garros, having spent just over an hour on court against Danielle Collins.  

Swiatek had taken the opening set and was already 3-0 in up in the second when Collins was forced to retire due to a lower back issue.  

The fifth seed will next take on Jil Teichmann, who failed to take any of the five match points that came her way during a dramatic second set tie-break with Anastasija Sevastova, though she eventually prevailed in the decider.  

Teichmann staved off two opportunities for her opponent when serving at 4-5 in the third as she claimed three games in a row to triumph, a 6-4 6-7 (10-8) 7-5 victory coming after two hours and 57 minutes.

In the other half of the draw, Gauff had to fight hard to seal her progress, having been down a set and 4-2 to Shelby Rogers.   

The 16-year-old, who came through qualifying, rallied to triumph 2-6 6-4 6-4 and reach the semis at a WTA 500 event for the first time.  

"I didn't realise how much a role experience plays until I started playing some players who are a lot older than me and they know what to do," Gauff said, per the WTA Tour's website.   

"Even when it comes to the little mind games and all that, they know what to do in those moments. So I'm just learning and picking up a few tricks and as I go."  

Gauff, who has won all three of her matches in the main draw via a deciding set, will go up against second seed Belinda Bencic, the Swiss having swept aside Storm Sanders in straight sets. 

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