Roger Federer sets up chance for first Rogers Cup title in 11 years after reaching final with win over Robin Haase

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Wimbledon champion Roger Federer stayed on course for his third Rogers Cup title after defeating Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3 7-6 (7/5) to reach Sunday’s final in Montreal.

The Swiss second seed turned 36 earlier in the week and is back in action for the first time since his success over Marin Cilic at the All England Club, where he won a record eighth singles title.

Federer, who is hoping to close up on Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray the top of the world rankings with, broke back against Haase early in the first set to establish a 4-1 advantage, which he never looked like relinquishing.

Haase, the world number 52, made a contest of it in the second set as he held serve in a crucial 11th game which then brought up a tie-break.

Federer moved 4-1 ahead after securing a couple of mini-breaks, only for Haase to respond again by taking the next two points against serve and then moved 5-4 ahead.

Roger Federer reacts after winning the first set

Roger Federer reacts after winning the first set

However, Federer’s experience – having last won the tournament in 2006 and since been a beaten finalist on three occasions – saw him through as the world number three held twice to set up a match point, which he converted against the Haase serve at the first time of asking.

He will face either Alexander Zverev or Denis Shapovalov in the final.

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Maria Sharapova withdraws from Stanford with left arm injury

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Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova withdrew from the WTA Bank of the West Classic just before her scheduled second-round match Wednesday with a left arm injury, tournament officials announced.

“We’re sad to announce that @mariasharapova has withdrawn after doctor’s advice regarding her left arm,” a post on the tournament’s Twitter feed said.

Sharapova played her first US match in more than two years on Monday, defeating American Jennifer Brady 6-1, 4-6, 6-0 in an opening-round match at the hardcourt event in Stanford, California.

“Toward the end of the Monday night’s match, I felt pain in my left forearm,” Sharapova said Wednesday. “After yesterday’s scan, the doctor has recommended I don’t risk further injury.”

The former world number one from Russia hadn’t played in the US since March of 2015, before serving a 15-month doping suspension for the use of meldonium.

Seventh-seeded Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko advanced by walkover as a result of wildcard entrant Sharapova’s early exit.

“Unfortunately, I have to withdraw from today’s match,” Sharapova said. “Monday night’s crowd was so special and I wish I could continue playing but I have to make a preventative decision.”

The latest injury brings into question whether or not Sharapova will be fit in time for the US Open, which starts August 28, as well as for another key tuneup event in Cincinnati in two weeks for which Sharapova has also accepted a wildcard.

Sharapova, 30, returned to competition in April, but her comeback was disrupted by a hip injury that forced her to withdraw from Wimbledon qualifying.

Sharapova’s ranking has fallen to 171 in the world.

“I feel like I’m playing catch-up against everyone who has had a head start,” Sharapova said after her match. “All that matters is that I keep playing.”

Tsurenko next faces American Madison Keys who survived a test from Caroline Dolehide to reach the quarter-finals, rallying from a set down for a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win.

The other day session singles match saw No.5 seed Ana Konjuh edge Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-4, 7-5 to advance to the last eight, where she’ll face Garbine Muguruza who cruised past American teenager Kayla Day 6-2, 6-0.

* Provided by AFP

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Dominic Thiem and Simona Halep cruise to victory in Washington openers

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Top seeds Dominic Thiem and Simona Halep cruised into the round of 16 at the ATP and WTA Citi Open with straight-set triumphs on Tuesday at the US Open tune-up event.

Austria’s seventh-ranked Thiem, a French Open semi-finalist in June, waited out a rain delay then needed only 63 minutes to dispatch 96th-ranked Swiss Henri Laaksonen 6-3, 6-3.

“It wasn’t easy but I’m pretty happy with my performance,” Thiem said. “It was my first match on hardcourt since Miami (in March) and that’s always a little tricky.”

World number two Halep, this year’s French Open runner-up, took only 79 minutes to oust US wildcard Sloane Stephens 7-6 (3), 6-0.

“It was a tough first set. I was missing a little bit too much and she made some shots,” Halep said. “Didn’t have the rhythm at the beginning, but I feel better now.”

Thiem, who dropped only eight points on his serve and just one on 25 successful first serves, broke in the second game of the match and again in his rival’s last two service games, taking the match when Laaksonen netted a backhand.

“I don’t have a lack of confidence but it’s always nice to get that first win,” Thiem said.

This marks the biggest event where Thiem has been top seeded, but his four nearest rankings rivals are also in the field — Germany’s Alexander Zverev, Japan’s Kei Nishikori, Canada’s Milos Raonic and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

“I think there are five or six players to beat,” Thiem said. “There should be four or five top seeds. I’m one of them.”

But Thiem faces a possible third-round match Thursday against South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, who has beaten him in all five of their career meetings, all on hardcourt and with Thiem taking only one set.

“Of course I will think about it and I have to change something,” Thiem said. “It’s a very tough draw.”

Second-seeded Nishikori turned back the determined challenge of American Donald Young 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/5).

Nishikori, seeking his first title of 2017, didn’t face a break point in the third set, but he couldn’t convert any of his eight break chances as Young forced the tiebreaker.

Nishikori finally sealed the win on his sixth match point after two hours and 25 minutes and with the clock ticking toward 2 am.

HALEP PASSES FIRST TEST

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

Halep will next face Colombia’s 115th-ranked Mariana Duque-Marino for a quarter-final berth as the 25-year-old Romanian keeps her focus on building her game for the US Open that starts on August 28 in New York.

“For first match on hardcourts, it wasn’t that bad,” Halep said. “My serve wasn’t the best but I was OK. Everything went well. I can’t say I have to adjust something.

“It was important I won today. It was important the second set was much better. The next round I have to be a little more aggressive. I have to come to the baseline and finish the points sooner.”

Stephens has been back for only a month after missing nearly a year with a left foot injury, falling to 957th in the rankings. She remains frustrated as she tries to regain the form that saw her claim her first WTA title in Washington in 2015.

“It was a good first set,” Stephens said. “I did well to do the best I could. I got a little frustrated in the second set. It’s going to take a while to get that consistency back and get more matches under my belt.”

* Provided by AFP

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