Top seeds Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber strolled to straight-sets wins in the first round of the Internationaux de Strasbourg, keeping the two former world number ones on course for a final meeting.

Having endured an injury-hit season to date, world number eight Pliskova made the perfect start to her campaign in France with a routine 6-4 6-2 win over Ukrainian 19-year-old Marta Kostyuk. 

Kerber, who is only missing a victory at the French Open – which begins later this month – to complete a Career Grand Slam, overcame teenager Diane Parry 6-3 6-4 in her opener, setting up a round-of-16 clash with world number 45 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Some of the other big names participating in Strasbourg, however, were not so lucky, with 5th and 6th seeds Shuai Zhang and Sloane Stephens crashing to first-round exits.

Shuai went down 6-2 6-3 to Belgium's Maryna Zanevska and Stephens capitulated to a 2-6 6-4 6-1 loss to Nefisa Berberovic, while Heather Watson set up a last-16 meeting with eighth seed Magda Linette by beating Katharina Hobgarski 6-4 6-1.

Meanwhile, Garbine Muguruza made a winning start to her campaign at the Grand Prix Sar La Princesse Lalla Meryem in Morocco, as the world number 10 builds towards a tilt at French Open glory having triumphed at Roland Garros back in 2016.

Muguruza had few difficulties in beating Anna Danilina 6-3 6-2, and will face Martina Trevisan in the round-of-16 after the Italian beat China's You Xiadoi 6-0 6-4.

Third seed Nuria Parrizas-Diaz had to come through a more difficult challenge in Rabat, overcoming Carol Zhao 7-6 (7-4) 1-6 6-2, while eighth seed Anna Kalinskaya was the highest-ranked player to fall at the first hurdle, going down 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 to Lucia Bronzetti.

Naomi Osaka moved into the fourth round at the Miami Open without even taking the court on Saturday, getting a walkover victory as Karolina Muchova withdrew.

The former world number one claimed straights sets victories coming into Saturday and had her run eased even further, with Muchova citing abdominal injury after almost five hours on court in her opening two matches.

Muchova has been sidelined due to the injury for the last seven months, missing the US Open in 2021 as well as the Australian Open this year.

"I'm sad that I cannot put up a battle against Naomi today." Muchova tweeted. "After a long break from tennis, two tough matches in [a] row have been a lot for my body and I need longer to recover."

While Lucia Bronzetti also won in a walkover, Osaka will face Alison Riske, who defeated fellow unseeded American Ann Li 6-2 3-6 6-3.

In her third match since losing to Ash Barty in the Australian Open final, Danielle Collins defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-1 6-4 in 78 minutes.

The American world number 11 has had to deal with numerous niggling injuries this season, including a viral illness that left her with significant neck pain.

"There was obviously an emotional moment for me, the pain I'm dealing with right now with this injury," she said post-match.

"Just trying to work through that, I think is one of the hardest things we go through mentally when we're on court."

Fellow seeds Belinda Bencic and Ons Jabeur also made their way through to the fourth round, defeating Heather Watson and Kaia Kanepi respectively.

Both won with relative comfort, with Bencic winning 6-4 6-1, and Jabeur only dropping three games in the opening set to triumph 6-3 6-0.

Ukrainian top seed Elina Svitolina was made to work hard but triumphed in more than two hours against Viktoriya Tomova as she booked her Monterrey Open quarter-final spot on Thursday.

Svitolina won 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-2 over the Bulgarian qualifier in two hours and 24 minutes, having trailed 2-0 in the final set, before rattling off the final six games to set up a last-eight meeting with fifth seed Camila Osorio.

The Ukrainian won the title at Monterrey in 2020, with her victory on Thursday maintaining her unbeaten record at the event.

"It was an extremely tough match today," Svitolina said during her on-court post-match interview. "I think Viktoriya played a really good match, and I had to really fight back in the third set to bring back my best game and try to come back in the match.

"In the end, I managed to win six games in a row, so it's a good effort for me. It was an extremely tough first set, second set didn't go my way, and then the third set I was 0-2 down. I was not playing my best, but I was fighting, until the very end.

"And you know, the Ukrainian flag [in the crowd] really helped me today to fight... I was really fighting until the end, and I found my game in the end."

Last week's beaten WTA Abierto Zapopan finalist Marie Bouzkova maintained her good form with a 6-4 6-2 victory over Petra Martic.

Sixth seed Nuria Parrizas-Diaz won 6-4 7-6 (7-2) over Briton Heather Watson, while Wang Qiang defeated Mayar Sherif 6-0 6-7 (2-7) 6-3.

Petra Kvitova was on the receiving end of an upset in the first round of the WTA International in Adelaide as she was surprisingly beaten by wildcard Priscilla Hon on Monday.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who ended 2021 among the world's top 20 players for the first time since 2016, lost in three sets to her Australian opponent 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-2. The victory was Hon's first ever against a player in the top 40.

Elsewhere, number three seed Maria Sakkari saw off Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek 6-2 0-6 6-4, while number seven seed Elena Rybakina earned a 6-4 1-6 6-1 win over Storm Sanders.

Leylah Fernandez, the 2021 US Open runner-up, also looked comfortable in a straight-sets victory against Ekaterina Alexandrova, easing past the Russian 6-3 6-4. The 19-year-old will face either number five seed Iga Swiatek or Daria Saville in the next round.

Heather Watson is out after a 6-4 7-6 (7-5) loss to home favourite Ajla Tomljanovic, while in the doubles event, Japanese pair and top seeds Ena Shibahara and Shuko Aoyama were beaten 6-4 6-2 by Victoria Azarenka and Paula Badosa, who will play against one another in the singles on Tuesday.

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens had to come from behind to progress against Heather Watson after almost three hours in the Indian Wells Open first round.

Stephens, who is currently ranked 73rd in the world, having been number three on the WTA Tour in 2018, triumphed 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 6-1 over Watson in two hours, 50 minutes on Wednesday.

In a see-sawing match, there were six breaks in the opening set, as Watson got the edge early on Stephens' serve at the WTA Premier 1000 event.

Stephens steadied by claiming a late break in the second to level the match, before dominating the third set.

Playing at her 10th Indian Wells Open, Stephens won seven consecutive games after the match was 5-5 in the second set.

"After the first set, that was disappointing to lose that one, but I felt like it was a battle and I was still in the match," Stephens said. "I knew I had to keep fighting and that's what I did, and I'm just really pleased to have squeaked out a win here."

 

KEYS ON SONG IN OPENER

Former world number seven Madison Keys moved through to the second round with a 6-0 7-5 win over fast-finishing Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.

American Keys won 21 consecutive points as part of a streak where she clinched the first nine games of the match, withstanding Kenapi's late push.

Keys will take on Russian ninth seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in the third round.

 

SAMSONOVA, MARTIC, ROGERS AND PUTINTSEVA PROGRESS

Liudmila Samsonova, who made the fourth round at Wimbledon earlier this year, needed more than two hours to get past Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Kozlova 6-4 7-6 (8-6).

Samsonova will face countrywoman and 25th seed Veronika Kudermetova in the second round.

Petra Martic won through to take on second seed Iga Swiatek with a 6-4 6-4 victory over American wildcard Katie Volynets.

Ash Barty's US Open conqueror Shelby Rogers claimed her 25th win for the year, getting past Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina 7-6 (7-2) 6-2, while Yulia Putintseva won 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 over experienced German Andrea Petkovic to set up a showdown with fellow Kazakh player and 13th seed Elena Rybakina.

Andy Murray has been selected as part of six-strong Great Britain tennis squad for the upcoming Olympic Games.

The Scot, a two-time winner in men's singles and the current champion, will have another opportunity to strike gold when he competes in Tokyo.

Murray is set to appear at his fourth Olympics having also been part of the squad for Beijing 2008 prior to victories at London 2012 and Rio 2016.

On his inclusion, he said: "The Olympics means a huge amount to me, it’s a massive honour to be able to compete at a fourth Games. 

"Leading Team GB out at the Opening Ceremony five years ago in Rio was one of the highlights of my career. 

"Going to a second Olympics as defending champion is exciting and I’m looking forward to the challenge."

Murray will also compete in the men's doubles alongside Joe Salisbury, an Olympic debutant and two-time Grand Slam doubles winner - most recently in the French Open mixed event.

Current GB number one Dan Evans is also part of the men's line-up, and is set to compete in both the singles and doubles events this summer.

His partner in the latter will be two-time Grand Slam doubles semi-finalist Neal Skupski who, like Evans, is set to appear at his first Games.

GB's women's representatives are Heather Watson and Johanna Konta, who are appearing at their third and second Olympic Games respectively.

Both players will compete in the women's singles event and team up for the doubles.

Team GB chef de mission Mark England said: “It’s a huge privilege to announce our tennis players for Team GB. 

"The calibre of the team gets stronger with every Games and it is great to see a mix of returning and first time Olympians. 

"Two-time Olympic Champion Andy Murray was our flag bearer in Rio and he continues to lead by example through his commitment to the Olympic Games and Team GB in what will be his fourth Olympics. 

"We are also delighted to welcome back Heather and Johanna as returning Olympians, and I am sure they will all pass on the best of their insight to Dan, Joe and Neal."

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