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Maria Sharapova advances at Rogers Cup

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MONTREAL — Maria Sharapova advanced to the second round of the Rogers Cup with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva of Bulgaria on Tuesday.

Play resumed under the afternoon sun with Sharapova leading 4-1 in the first set after heavy rain and lightning forced organizers to suspend the match late Monday following a three-hour rain delay.

Sharapova, making her first Rogers Cup appearance since 2014, picked up where she left off Monday. She won six straight games after the restart and needed only 36 minutes to win the second set.

The 31-year-old had three aces and only committed two double faults to her opponent’s 11.

“Would have loved to finish last night to get a break today, but that’s not how things work,” Sharapova said. “You have to adjust. I think I did a good job of finishing the job today.”

The Russian is 5-0 all time against the 229th-ranked Karatantcheva, who was playing in her first WTA main draw in more than a year.

Sharapova, ranked 22nd in the world, will face Daria Kasatkina of Russia (No. 12) or Maria Sakkari of Greece (No. 31) in the second round.

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard is out after a 6-2, 6-4 first-round loss to Elise Mertens of Belgium.

The 129th-ranked Bouchard lost the match in 1 hour, 34 minutes in front of her hometown fans as she dropped to 4-11 all time at the Rogers Cup.

The Westmount, Quebec, native started the match poorly. She was broken three times and dropped the first five games of the first set.

The 24-year-old showed signs of life though, winning back-to-back games in the first set before losing 6-2. She started the second set by winning her first three games.

But Bouchard’s service game let her down the entire match, and it allowed Mertens to claw her way back into the second set.

Bouchard was broken twice in the second, for a total of five times in the match, as Mertens won the next five games en route to the victory.

Bouchard connected on just 54 percent of her first serves and won 56 percent of her first service points.

The 15th-ranked Mertens, who is making her Rogers Cup debut, will now face either Shuai Zhang of China (No. 32) or qualifier Barbora Krejcikova (No. 232) of the Czech Republic in the second round.

Bouchard has not beaten a top-20 player since defeating Angelique Kerber at the Madrid Open in May 2017.

Earlier Tuesday, Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko was eliminated after a 6-7 (6), 6-1, 6-2 loss to Britain’s Johanna Konta.

Ostapenko, the 11th seed in Montreal, committed 10 double faults while struggling with her serve as she was eliminated in the first round at the Rogers Cup for the third straight year.

Konta had eight aces while committing just three double faults.

“Because of the back and forth in that first set, after that what I did well was I settled down,” said Konta, the former world No. 4. “I played myself into the match and tried to be as tough as possible.

“She has such a big game, so many big shots, sometimes you are spectator out there. When I had the opportunity to do the most I could, stay strong, I think I built up enough momentum. That’s why I was able to keep pushing through in the second and third.”

In other early matches, Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands made quick work of Carol Zhao of Canada, winning 6-1, 6-2 while world No. 8 Petra Kvitova outlasted Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-3, 6-4.

Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck cruised past Russian qualifier Sofya Zhuk 6-1, 6-2 and Sorana Cirstea beat Monica Niculescu 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in an all-Romanian matchup.

The 10th seed Julia Goerges of Germany came from a set down to beat qualifier Lucie Safarova 2-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Garbine Muguruza, the tournament’s eighth seed, withdrew with an arm injury. Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig took her spot in the main draw.

Bencic beats 2-time defending champ Svitolina in Dubai semi

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Unseeded Belinda Bencic stopped Elina Svitolina’s bid for a third consecutive title at the Dubai Championships by beating her 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) in the semifinals Friday.

The 45th-ranked Bencic won her third match in a row against a top-10 opponent and will face yet another, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, in Saturday’s final at the hard-court tournament.

Kvitova advanced to her third final of 2019 by edging Hsieh Su-wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The No. 2-seeded Kvitova picked up her tour-high 17th victory of 2019.

Bencic is seeking her third career title, Kvitova her 27th.

Against No. 6 seed Svitolina, Bencic trailed 5-3 in the third set. This was her latest in a string of comebacks. She saved six match points against eighth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, then erased a set deficit to beat third-seeded Simona Halep in the quarterfinals.

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Bencic upsets Halep to reach Dubai semifinals

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Unseeded Belinda Bencic rallied to beat second-ranked Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 Thursday to reach the Dubai Championships semifinals.

Bencic, who saved six match points in the previous round against Aryna Sabalenka, failed to capitalize on an early break in the first set but Halep continued to struggle with her serve and was broken seven times in total. Bencic broke for a 5-4 lead in the second and then raced out to a 3-0 lead in the decider, having won six games in a row. Halep, who was playing her ninth match in 13 days after reaching the final in Qatar last week, got one break back but Bencic broke again for a 5-2 lead before converting her third match point.

Second-seeded Petra Kvitova had no such problems, winning the last eight games to oust Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-0 to book her spot in the last four. Kvitova, the 2013 Dubai champion, needed just 62 minutes to wrap up the win. She will next face Su-wei Hsieh of Taiwan, who came from 5-1 down in the final set to beat fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 1-6, 7-5. It was the latest upset for Hsieh, who ousted Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber on Wednesday.

In the final quarterfinal, Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain was playing Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

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