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.

The WTA says Naomi Osaka has a "responsibility" to her sport to speak to the media after the world number two opted to snub the press at the French Open.

Japanese sensation Osaka this week stated she would not face the media at Roland Garros as "people have no regard for athletes' mental health" during press conferences.

The WTA on Friday stated that it would welcome dialogue with Osaka over possible approaches to support players, but the organisation says the four-time grand slam winner should speak to journalists.

"Mental health is of the utmost importance to the WTA and for that matter, every individual person. We have a team of professionals and a support system in place that look after our athletes' mental and emotional health and well-being," a WTA statement said.

"The WTA welcomes a dialogue with Naomi (and all players) to discuss possible approaches that can help support an athlete as they manage any concerns related to mental health, while also allowing us to deliver upon our responsibilities to the fans and public. 

"Professional athletes have a responsibility to their sport and their fans to speak to the media surrounding their competition, allowing them the opportunity to share their perspective and tell their story."

Osaka said she wants fines she will be hit with for her media snub in Paris to go to a mental health charity.

She explained in a social media post on Wednesday: "I'm writing this to say I'm not going to do any press during Roland Garros.

"I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes' mental health, and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one."

 May 26, 2021

Osaka added: "We're often sat there and asked questions that we've been asked multiple times before, and I'm just not going to subject myself to people that doubt me."

World number one Ash Barty told the media when asked about Osaka's stance on Friday: "We know what we sign up for as professional tennis players. I can't really comment on what Naomi is feeling or her decisions she makes.

"At times press conference are hard of course but it's also not something that bothers me. Certainly doesn't keep me up at night what I say and hear or what you guys ask me."

Defending champion Iga Swiatek said: "I don't find it difficult. It gives us a chance to explain our perspective, so I think it's good."

Gilles Moretton, the president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), said Osaka is making a "phenomenal mistake".

He told L'Equipe: "It's a deep regret, for you journalists, for her [Osaka] personally and for tennis in general. I think this is a phenomenal mistake."

Moretton added that Osaka ignoring the media is a "very detrimental to sport, tennis and probably to her."

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.

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic could meet at the semi-final stage of the French Open, while Iga Swiatek and Ash Barty are in the same half of the draw.

Nadal will start his quest to win the Paris grand slam a staggering 14th time with a first-round encounter against Australian Alexei Popyrin next week.

Defending champion Nadal, the third seed, is in the same half of the draw as fellow all-time greats Djokovic and Federer, who could face the Serbian world number one in the last eight.

Top seed Djokovic, who is two major titles shy of the record of 20 held by Federer and Nadal, will take on Tennys Sandgren in the first round.

Swiss great Federer will come up against a qualifier in round one at Roland Garros, while two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem is up against Pablo Andujar.

Pole Swiatek claimed her maiden grand slam title at the French Open last year and takes on her close friend Kaja Juvan in the first round.

World number one Barty, who did not travel to Paris to defend her title in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has will make her return at the clay-court major against Bernarda Pera.

Serena Williams comes up against Irina-Camelia Begu, while last year's runner-up Sofia Kenin must do battle with the 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko in a standout first-round match.

Carla Suarez Navarro can expect plenty of support when she takes on Sloane Stephens in her first tournament since successfully completing cancer treatment.

Naomi Osaka has imposed a media ban during her upcoming French Open campaign, citing mental health reasons.

Osaka – the reigning Australian Open champion and four-time grand slam winner – announced the shock media boycott ahead of the Roland Garros event, which will get underway on Sunday.

Under French Open rules, typical of any tennis tournament, players are required to hold media conferences after each match.

Osaka is the world's highest earning female athlete and will be fined by tournament officials should the world number two follow through and not take part in news conferences.

Japanese star Osaka hopes the fines she will receive can be donated towards mental health charity.

"I'm writing this to say that I'm not going to do any press during Roland Garros," Osaka wrote on Twitter. "I've often felt that people have no regard for athletes' mental health and this rings true whenever I see a press conference or partake in one.

"We're often sat there and asked questions that we've been asked multiple times before or asked questions that bring doubt into our minds and I am not going to subject myself to people who doubt me.

"I've watched many clips of athletes breaking down after a loss in the press room and I know you have as well. I believe that whole situation is kicking a person while they're down and I don't understand the reasoning behind it.

"Me not doing press is nothing personal to the tournament … However, if the organisations think that they can just keep saying, 'do press or you're gonna be fined', and continue to ignore the mental health of the athletes that are centrepiece of their co-operation then I just gotta laugh."

Osaka heads to Paris having never progressed beyond the third round of the French Open.

The 23-year-old skipped last year's French Open amid the coronavirus pandemic, though she claimed her second US Open crown at Flushing Meadows.

Third seed Ekaterina Alexandrova beat Clara Burel – and the persistent rain - to reach the quarter-finals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

Alexandrova is the highest-ranked player remaining in the tournament after top seed Bianca Andreescu withdrew on Tuesday with an abdominal injury.

The world number 33 converted six of her 10 break points to see off Burel 6-3 6-4 in an hour and 10 minutes as she reached her fourth quarter-final of the season, two of those on clay.

Barbora Krejcikova awaits Alexandrova in the last eight after battling back from a set down to beat Caroline Garcia 3-6 6-2 6-1.

Previous Strasbourg champion Garcia held serve throughout the opening set to open up a convincing lead, but Krejcikova did likewise in the second and third sets to advance through.

Number four seed Yulia Putintseva is also into the quarter-finals after Jil Teichmann retired injured when two games down in the opening set.

Arantxa Rus had a walkover win of her own, with French wildcard Harmony Tan a set down when having to withdraw through injury.

Wednesday's other matches also came to an early end because of rain. 

Jule Niemeier leads Shelby Rogers 6-4 2-1 ahead of the resumption of that match on Thursday, which is also when Zhang Shuai and Sorana Cirstea will begin their second-round contest – the winner of which will go through to the semis following Andreescu's withdrawal

Bianca Andreescu was in good form again as she saw off Maryna Zanevska to reach the last eight at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

Until this week the Canadian had been absent from the WTA Tour since making the final in Miami back in March, missing recent events after a positive COVID-19 test.

But she has now won two straight matches on clay for the first time in her career, having barely played on the surface at tour level before.

Top seed Andreescu was playing an opponent ranked outside of the world's top 250 for a second straight day, though she emphatically did the job against qualifier Zanevska, winning 6-1 6-4 in just 65 minutes.

Aside from needing to recover from 4-2 down in the second set, Andreescu had few problems and converted all five of the break points she forced in the contest.

However, the second seed at the WTA 250 event is out.

Australian Open quarter-finalist Jessica Pegula was upset by Arantxa Rus, losing 6-4 6-4.

Pegula won only 10 of her 31 points on second serve as she was broken on five occasions.

But there was relief for seventh seed Shelby Rogers, who won an epic contest lasting three hours and 23 minutes against fellow American Christina McHale.

Rogers won 7-5 6-7 (6-8) 7-5 in a memorable clash. The eventual winner was a point away from wrapping up the victory in straight sets before later needing to save a match point herself in the decider.

Bianca Andreescu had little trouble in her first outing on clay this season, easing past Andrea Lazaro Garcia at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

Andreescu had been absent from the WTA Tour since making the final in Miami back in March, when she was forced to retire when a set and 4-0 down against Ashleigh Barty due to an ankle injury.

A positive COVID-19 test result ruled her out of competing in Madrid and also Rome, though the Canadian showed few signs of rust on her return.

The top seed defeated the world number 279 – who was making her main-draw debut after coming through qualifying – in just 61 minutes, a 6-1 6-2 triumph sealed in a hurry thanks to five breaks of serve.

Champion at the 2019 US Open, Andreescu did not play in any grand slam event last year. She has only featured in the main draw at the French Open once before, reaching the second round at Roland Garros two years ago.

"I feel really, really good," the world number seven said after an impressive opening display. "I had really good preparation coming into this tournament, so I'm super happy."

Also in action on Monday, Yulia Putintseva overcame Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson via a tie-break in the deciding set of their see-saw contest.

The fourth seed eventually prevailed 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2) after three hours and 20 minutes on court, booking her a spot in the last 16 of the tournament.

Zhang Shuai was successful in her first outing, beating Misaki Doi 7-5 6-4. Barbora Krejcikova was another seed to make it through, having led 6-3 3-0 when opponent Oceane Dodin retired.

Caroline Garcia overcame Zarina Diyas 7-5 6-2, while Maryna Zanevska needed less than an hour to overcome Yuliya Hatouka 6-2 6-1 and set up a clash with Andreescu.

Jil Teichmann was also a winner in straight sets against Anna Blinkova, but Venus Williams' campaign is over early after going out to Sorana Cirstea, who dominated a decider to triumph 6-1 2-6 6-1.

Ekaterina Alexandrova booked her place in the last 16 of the Internationaux de Strasbourg after a straight sets win over Lauren Davis on Sunday.

Third seed Alexandrova claimed a comfortable 6-1 7-5 win in 80 minutes to setup a meeting with Clara Burel, who clinched a surprise 6-3 6-1 win over Varvara Gracheva despite being ranked 56 places below her opponent.

Kristyna Pliskova was knocked out following a hard-fought 7-5 6-4 loss to Alize Cornet.

Cornet's reward is a tie with eighth seed Magda Linette, who triumphed 6-2 6-0 in a one-sided match against Nao Hibino.

Paula Badosa continued her fine season with a victory at the Serbia Open, having also reached her maiden WTA singles final on Saturday.

Badosa had to play two matches on Saturday, first progressing to the final by beating lucky loser Viktoriya Tomova 6-1 6-2.

The Spaniard's straight-sets win took only 63 minutes, so she still had plenty in reserve heading into the showdown with qualifier Ana Konjuh, but Badosa did ultimately not need the energy.

She was 6-2 2-0 up when Konjuh – who defeated Maria Camila Osorio Serrano earlier on Saturday – retired due to a right hip injury, sealing Badosa's triumph.

Badosa, 23, rounded off a successful week without having dropped a set. She had previously reached two semi-finals in her last two tournaments – in Charleston and Madrid, both against Ash Barty.

Coco Gauff was in superb form as she dispatched Wang Qiang 6-1 6-3 to win the Emilia-Romagna Open, the teenager's second career title.

Third seed Gauff needed just 74 minutes to seal a straight sets success, with her Chinese opponent unable to lay a glove on her.

The 17-year-old, who had previously won the 2019 Linz Open, enjoyed a run to the semi-finals at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia last week and looks in fine fettle heading to the French Open.

She dropped only one set during her charge at Parma, a triumph which takes her into the top 30 in the WTA rankings and ensures that she will be seeded for the French Open.

Gauff had won 19 of her last 25 WTA Tour matches heading into Saturday's contest, and had little trouble in making it 20.

A brief rally from Wang at the end of the start of the first set was not enough to stop Gauff, who saved all four of the break points she faced throughout the contest.

She now has the chance to complete a clean sweep in Parma, as she pairs with Caty McNally in the doubles final, against Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac.

Coco Gauff battled through to the second WTA final of her burgeoning career as the 17-year-old American sank the title hopes of Katerina Siniakova in Parma.

At the Emilia-Romagna Open, Gauff scored a 7-5 1-6 6-2 victory over the player who shocked top seed Serena Williams in round two of the clay-court tournament.

It means Gauff faces a first final appearance since landing the Linz Open title as a 15-year-old in October 2019, with Wang Qiang awaiting her in the title match after a dramatic win over former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Gauff served eight double faults against Siniakova, a familiar weakness in her game, but her opponent was similarly afflicted and coughed up 10 doubles across the two hours and eight minutes of their contest.

Having reached the semi-finals of the WTA 1000 event in Rome last week, Gauff is enjoying her stay in Italy ahead of competing at the French Open.

"I need to play more aggressive. I learned to trust my shots and they ended up working out," she said on Amazon Prime. "The Italians, they cheer me on and bring me good luck, and hopefully I can keep this going tomorrow."

Wang beat Stephens 6-2 7-6 (7-3), but the scoreline barely told the story of the second semi-final. It seemed sure to go to a third set as Stephens raced to a 5-1 lead in the second, but Wang reeled her in before easing through the tie-break.

Chinese star Wang, coached by former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, said: "I just tried to hang in there and focus on the court, try to hit every ball back. It will be my first time to play [Gauff] and I will make a plan tonight."

At the Serbia Open, promising Colombian teenager Maria Camila Osorio Serrano set up a semi-final against Croatian Ana Konjuh by beating world number 50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Osorio Serrano secured a 6-4 6-2 success, while Konjuh saw off Argentinian Nadia Podoroska 6-4 6-3. In the top half of the quarter-final draw, Spain's Paula Badosa was a 6-2 6-4 victor over Swedish player Rebecca Peterson, and Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova edged out Hungarian Reka-Luca Jani 6-1 2-6 7-5.

Simona Halep will miss this year's French Open due to a calf injury.

The 2018 champion at Roland Garros suffered a tear in her left calf while playing against Angelique Kerber at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome last week.

Halep posted a statement on Twitter on Friday confirming she will not recover in time to take part in the second grand slam of the season, which begins in Paris on May 24.

"It's with a heavy heart that I announce my withdrawal from Roland Garros this year,” the world number three said.

"Unfortunately the tear in my left calf muscle needs more time to recover and the timeline is just too short.

"Withdrawing from a grand slam goes against all my instincts and aspirations as an athlete, but it is the right and only decision to make.

"The thought of not being in Paris fills me with sadness, but I will focus my energy on recovery, staying positive and getting back on court as soon as it is safe to do so.

"Roland Garros 2022, I am coming for you! A bientot [see you soon!]"

Halep defeated Sloane Stephens to win the clay-court tournament three years ago, having previously lost finals in 2014 and 2017.

The 29-year-old Romanian – who also won Wimbledon in 2019 – made the quarter-finals at the Australian Open back in February, her run in Melbourne ended by Serena Williams.

Coco Gauff continued her fine form with a 6-3 6-3 quarter-final triumph over fellow American Amanda Anisimova at the Emilia-Romagna Open.

In a contest between two teenage stars, it was 17-year-old Gauff who sealed her second semi-final spot in as many weeks, having made the last four at the Internazionali d'Italia.

Third seed Gauff will face Katerina Siniakova next, after the Czech followed up her win over Serena Williams with a 7-5 6-1 defeat of Caroline Garcia.

"I was pretty satisfied with the way I played," Gauff said, after fending off Anisimova.

"I do think I could have served a little bit better, but other than that, I was pretty happy with the way I played."

Despite her valid concerns, Gauff won 72 per cent of points after landing her first serve and forced six breaks to win in style, reeling off six games on the trot from 3-0 behind in the second set.

The other semi-final will see second seed Wang Qiang take on Sloane Stephens.

Wang prevailed 7-6 (7-4) 3-6 7-5 against Petra Martic, while Stephens saw off Sara Errani 6-3 6-0.

It was another rain-affected day at the Serbia Open, where Maria Camila Osorio Serrano managed to get past Kamilla Rakhimova 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Anna Kalinskaya and Reka Luca Jani were locked at one set apiece in the only other match to get started before the weather halted play.

Seeds Petra Martic and Coco Gauff were victorious at the Emilia-Romagna Open on Wednesday, but injury cut short Sara Sorribes Tormo's run in the tournament.

Gauff recorded five breaks of serve as she overcame Italian Camila Giorgi in routine fashion, a 6-2 6-3 triumph securing the third seed a place in the quarter-finals.

The American did have a few issues on her own serve, leading to seven double faults, but ended up winning in one hour and 11 minutes.

Martic, the second seed at the event, was made to work in the first set of her match against Ludmilla Samsonova, both players saving a break point on serve as it went the distance.

There was little to split the pair in the tie-breaker too, Martic edging it 7-5 as she capitalised on her first opportunity to take the set.

The second was more straightforward for the Croatian, an early beak of serve putting her in front before she repeated the trick to wrap up victory in the ninth game.

There were wins in straight sets for fellow seeds Caroline Garcia and Wang Qiang too, as they defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam and Martina Di Giuseppe respectively.

For Garcia, the triumph means a first quarter-final appearance in the 2021 season.

Sorribes Tormo was the only seeded player to exit in the day’s action, the Spaniard forced to retire at 2-2 in the deciding set against Sara Errani due to a problem with her left thigh.

"I'm very sorry for Sara. It was a battle, I know every time we play together it is like this. I was mentally ready to fight, to suffer," Errani said in her on-court interview.

Top seed Serena Williams is already out, beaten in straight sets by Katerina Siniakova to deal the 23-time grand slam champion a further blow ahead of this year's French Open.

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