Wozniacki to face Pliskova in rain-delayed Qatar Open final

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DOHA, Qatar — Former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki will face second-seeded Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Qatar Open after both were forced to play back-to-back matches in the quarterfinals and semifinals on Friday night due to rain playing havoc the schedule.

Wozniacki swept past Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-1, 6-2 to reach her second final in Doha – six years after her first, which she lost to Vera Zvonareva.

“It sounds amazing, but also makes me feel a little old,” the 26-year-old Wozniacki said. “It’s been a great week, really tough conditions with all the waiting, but I managed to keep focus and play some of my best tennis out there.”

Pliskova hit a career-best 21 aces to beat third-seeded Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in the other semifinal, her first victory over the Slovakian player in four meetings.

“I’m really excited, especially after what a long, tough day it’s been,” Pliskova said. “Having two wins today is amazing, and I just beat Domi for the first time in my life.”

The schedule had been backed up due to frequent rain delays during the week, forcing the players into double duty on Friday.

Earlier in the evening, Wozniacki beat Lauren Davis of the United States 7-5, 6-1, while Pliskova defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-2, 6-0.

Puig also had to complete her quarterfinal match earlier Friday, edging Daria Kasatkina 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Cibulkova was the only one of the four semifinalists to make it through on Thursday.

Altogether, Wozniacki spent more than three hours on court Friday evening, while Pliskova played for just under three hours.

Wozniacki has won all three of her previous matches against Pliskova, but their last encounter came in 2014 before Pliskova reached last year’s U.S. Open final and became a top-10 player.

“She’s playing really well, serving really well. It’s going to be a great final and I’m excited for it,” Wozniacki said.

Top-ranked Swiatek, Kvitova reach quarters at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Top-ranked Iga Swiatek advanced to the quarterfinals of the Agel Open after Ajla Tomljanovic retired with an injury during the second set of their second-round match on Wednesday.

The Polish U.S. Open champion was leading 7-5, 2-2 when her Australian opponent retired due to a left knee injury at the indoor hardcourt event in the eastern Czech city of Ostrava.

Swiatek, who also won the French Open in June, will next face American qualifier Catherine McNally or Karolina Muchova.

Home favorite and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova upset second-seeded Paula Badosa of Spain 7-6 (4), 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against this year’s Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina, who rallied to eliminate Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-7 (5), 6-4, 7-5.

Czech players also won the last two first-round matches on the schedule.

Muchova knocked out seventh-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-4, 6-4 and Barbora Krejcikova ousted American Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-2 for her sixth straight victory after she won the Tallinn Open on Sunday for her first WTA title of the year.

Djokovic near flawless to reach second round in Astana

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan – Novak Djokovic delivered a near-flawless performance to ease into the second round of the Astana Open with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Cristian Garin on Wednesday as he goes for a third straight tournament title.

Djokovic dropped just six points on his serve and won the last five games to seal the win in just 62 minutes.

Djokovic is coming off a victory in Tel Aviv last week and – aside from a match at the Laver Cup – the Wimbledon champion hasn’t lost since the French Open quarterfinals.

“From the start to the end, (it was) a great performance,” Djokovic said. “Playing in a new tournament, different conditions, the first match is never easy. Obviously you are looking to see how you are going to adapt, but I did it perfectly, really, played as well as I can.”

Djokovic will next play Botic van de Zandschulp.

Top-ranked Carlos Alcaraz lost in the opening round on Tuesday in his first match since winning the U.S. Open title to capture the No. 1 spot.

Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the quarterfinals by beating 19-year-old Luca Nardi of Italy 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). Nardi was playing just his fifth tour-level main-draw match and impressed the third-seeded Greek, who didn’t earn a single break point.

“He’s a player that can play very well in the future,” Tsitsipas said. “There weren’t any holes. I believe today he was able to sustain that level from the beginning to end, and that was extremely impressive.”

Roberto Bautista Agut also reached the quarterfinals as he followed up his first-round upset of Felix Auger-Aliassime by beating Pavel Kotov 6-1, 7-6 (5).

Marin Cilic, who lost the Tel Aviv final to Djokovic, had to come from behind to beat Oscar Otte 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the first round to set up a round-of-16 match against Karen Khachanov.