Sara Errani fails drugs test and is handed two-month ban

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Banned: Sara Errani.

Italian tennis player Sara Errani has failed a doping test and has been banned for two months the International Tennis Federation announced on Monday.

The former Roland Garros runner-up tested positive for the aromatose inhibitor, letrozole, in an out-of-competition test on February 16, 2017. Letrozole is typically used for the treatment of hormonally-responsive breast cancer after surgery and can hide the presence of the male hormone testosterone. It is listed on the WADA prohibited list as a hormone and metabolic modulator.

According to the ITF report, Errani said the substance was present in her system because her mother’s medication spilled over her food.

“The most  likely  way  in  which  the  player  came  to  ingest  letrozole  was  by  accidentally   consuming  her  mother’s  anti-cancer  medication  ‘Femara’,” said the ITF report.

Errani’s mother, Fulvia, told an Independent Tribunal that she has been battling breast cancer since 2005, and has had surgery twice.

“On 18 April 2017, Ms. Errani was charged with an Anti-Doping Rule Violation under Article 2.1 of the Programme (presence of a Prohibited Substance in a Player’s Sample). She promptly admitted that she had committed the Anti-Doping Rule Violation charged, and asked for a hearing before an Independent Tribunal in accordance with Article 8 of the Programme to determine the consequences to be imposed on her for that violation,” read a statement published on the ITF website.

The hearing took place on July 19 and Errani received a two-month ban starting from August 3 and ending on October 2, 2017.

Her results between February 16, 2017 (the date of sample collection) and June 7, 2017 (the date of her next test, which was negative) will be disqualified, resulting in forfeiture of the ranking points and prize money that she won at events during that period.

Errani is currently ranked No98 in the world. Her most recent title came in Dubai last year.

Part of the evidence submitted to the Independent Tribunal included statements from her parents who said that they conducted an experiment to see if the ‘Femara’ can dissolve in food. They said that it dissolved in both broth and meat mixture used in making tortellini.

“Clearly this was not a test under laboratory conditions and no weight can be given to it. Equally neither can it be dismissed,” read the ITF report.

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Madison Keys beats Coco Vandeweghe to claim first title of season in Stanford

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Home success: Keys (r) and Vandeweghe.

Madison Keys looked to be in US Open form early on Sunday at the WTA tour’s Stanford tournament, beating American compatriot CoCo Vandeweghe 7-6 (4), 6-4 for her third career title.

The 22-year-old Keys was pleased with the win after battling injuries this year which caused her to miss the first two months of the season following wrist surgery.

“It hasn’t been the easiest last couple of months, but this means a lot to me,” said Keys, who earned her first win of 2017.

Keys also said the victory will give her confidence going into the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year which begins in three weeks in New York.

“It finally feels like I’m on the right track and feeling good about my tennis again. It feels amazing to have a title at home and on hard courts.

“I’m really, really happy that this is kind of the start of my US Open Series.”

The world No. 21 Keys reached the final by eliminating reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in straight sets, so it didn’t come as a surprise she played her best tennis in the final.

It was the first career WTA meeting between Keys and Vandeweghe but they are no strangers off the court. The two Fed Cup team-mates shared a long embrace at the net after Keys closed out the win with back-to-back forehand winners.

“Thanks for a great week CoCo,” said Keys.

Keys hit two aces, had three double faults and won 76 per cent of her first-serve points in the one hour, 28 minute match.

Vandeweghe, 24, also served brilliantly, hammering six aces and winning 73 percent of her first-serve points. She reached the final without dropping a set. Keys hit 23 winners to just 19 unforced errors, while Vandeweghe tallied 20 winners and 22 unforced errors.

Keys won the first-set tiebreaker with a forehand winner down the line after both players held serve through all 12 games of the set.

Both players continued to serve solidly in the second and Keys finally broke Vandeweghe at 4-4 in the set.

“I just knew that if I kept hanging in on my service games, hopefully I would have a chance to break,” Keys said.

After the only break of the match, Keys wasted no time finishing off Vandeweghe on her serve in the next game. She jumped out front 40-0 then closed out the win with a cross-court forehand winner.

“I felt really calm, and I didn’t feel any nerves until like 30-0 in the last game serving. I kind of went in with feeling no pressure, in a weird way,” she said. “She’s had an amazing season and lots of matches, and I just knew what I needed to do and kind of stayed focused on that.”

Keys has a quick turnaround as she flew straight to Toronto where she faces Croatian Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in her opening clash, before a potential showdown with second-seeded Simona Halep in round two. Vandeweghe has a brutal opener in Canada against 10th-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska.

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Rogers Cup preview: Karolina Pliskova debuts as world No1, Simona Halep out to defend title

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Tennis heavyweights will reunite next week in Toronto for the Rogers Cup, as preparations for the US Open (starts August 28) get underway.

Karolina Pliskova headlines a strong field, with Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova being the most notable absentees.

Defending champion Simona Halep is the No2 seed and will be looking to recover from a brutal few days in Washington’s extreme heat that forced her to retire from her quarter-final against Ekaterina Makarova on Friday.

The Toronto draw was revealed on Friday and includes some tricky match-ups for the top seeds.

PROJECTED QUARTER-FINALS (BY SEED)

Karolina Pliskova (CZE) [1] v Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [6]
Angelique Kerber (GER) [3] v Johanna Konta (GBR) [7]
Elina Svitolina (UKR) [5] v Garbine Muguruza (ESP) [4]
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) [8] v Simona Halep (ROU) [2]

FIRST ROUNDS TO WATCH

Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [10] v Coco Vandeweghe (USA)
Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) v Sloane Stephens (USA)
Petra Kvitova (CZE) [14] v Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
Daria Kasatkina (RUS) v Roberta Vinci (ITA)
Julia Goerges (GER) v Catherine Bellis (USA)
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) [13] v Barbora Strycova (CZE)
Madison Keys (USA) v Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO)

MAIN STORYLINES

Pliskova in the hot seat

We’ve seen how Angelique Kerber reacted to her elevated status as world No1 and it did not go so well. Will Karolina Pliskova’s reign be any different? The Czech tends to portray a composed persona and has been consistent this year, winning three titles from three finals reached in Brisbane, Doha and Eastbourne, and reaching the semis at the French Open, Indian Wells and Miami.

Halep will be breathing down her neck in the rankings over the next six weeks, where Pliskova is defending the title in Cincinnati and a runner-up showing at the US Open. The next month and a half for Pliskova will be a test of character, and while she can’t lose her top spot in Toronto, she can surrender it to Halep in the following weeks.

A new and improved Muguruza?

It’s still early days but Garbine Muguruza is already reacting very differently to her Wimbledon title compared to how she did to her French Open success last season. The Spaniard is into the Washington semi-finals (faces Madison Keys on Saturday) and says she feels the pressure is off this time around. Toronto will be the first real test to that. In Canada, Muguruza she shares a quarter with fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina and Venus Williams and is in the same half of the draw as Halep.

More Penko power?

The French Open champion responded brilliantly to her breakthrough title in Paris by reaching the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. The first seed she could face in Toronto could be eight-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round before a potential quarter-final against Halep, whom she beat to win Roland Garros in June.

With a power game that should do wonders on hard courts, Ostapenko is definitely one to watch these next few weeks.

Time for Kerber to bounce back?

After playing a high-quality three-setter against Muguruza before bowing out of the Wimbledon fourth round, Kerber tweeted: “Thank you Wimbledon for reminding me how much I love this sport.”

The German managed to bring out some of that magic form that won her two majors last year during that epic with Muguruza. And now that she’s no longer feeling like the hunted, having slipped from No1 to No3 in the rankings, can Kerber finally play freely and find her way back to her top level?

She’s been dealt a tough hand in Canada where she can face home favourite Eugenie Bouchard in the second round, Petra Kvitova in the third and Johanna Konta in the quarters.

Halep’s brutal draw

The title holder could face Keys in her opener, in a rematch of last year’s final in Canada. She could then face Mladenovic in round three, and either Ostapenko or Kuznetsova in the quarters. If Halep wants to defend her title, she’ll have to do it the hard way.

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