Serena Williams advances at Rogers Cup

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TORONTO — Serena Williams won her first match since losing the Wimbledon final, beating Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 6-3 on Wednesday night in the second round of the Rogers Cup.

The 37-year-old Williams has won the event three times, all in Toronto, and has a 31-4 match record.

“I feel like my movement is great – been working on my fitness, so I felt like it really was able to shine through today,” Williams said. “I’m loving going out there, and I’m loving kind of running. So it’s a good thing.”

In the third round, she’ll face Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova – a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Zhang Shuai of China.

“Now that I’m just injury-free, I’m just enjoying being able to train, and I haven’t been able to do it since January, really,” said Williams, seeded eighth. “So I just think that the fact that I can train and practice and get in the gym is really going to be helpful for me.”

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep of Romania beat American qualifier Jennifer Brady 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5).

The winner last year in Montreal, Halep lost a 4-0 lead in the third set when Brady won five straight games. Halep broke Brady for the third time in the set to go up 6-5, but Brady broke back to force the tiebreaker.

“It was a very, very tough one,” Halep said. “I expected it because I knew that she’s going to serve big and also the forehand is big. I didn’t feel 100% ready for the tournament because I had a long break (after Wimbledon). But I’m really pleased with the way it was today, the fact that I fought till the end.”

The 26-year-old Halep will face Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. Kuznetsova beat Donna Vekic of Croatia 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Second-ranked Naomi Osaka of Japan reached the third round when German qualifier retired because of a left abdominal injury. Osaka led 6-2 in her first match since losing in the first round at Wimbledon.

Canada’s Bianca Andreescu beat Russia’s Daria Kasatkina 5-7, 6-2, 7-5. On Tuesday night, the 19-year-old Andreescu beat fellow Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.

Third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic also advanced, beating American qualifier Alison Riske 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-2

Poland’s Iga Swiatek beat 15th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the late match. Swiatek will face Osaka.

No. 16 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia reached the third round when Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain retired with a hip injury while trailing 7-5, 3-1. Kontaveit will play Pliskova.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus was eliminated, falling 7-5, 7-5 to Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina, the 2017 Rogers Cup winner, moved onto the third round with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Katerina Siniakova, and 2015 champion Belinda Bencic of Switzerland edged Julia Goerges 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. Bencic and Svitolina will face each other Thursday.

Alcaraz loses to Goffin in 1st match as No. 1

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.

The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.

“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”

Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.

“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”

Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.

Kasatkina knocks out Raducanu at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.

Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.