Halep dominates Venus to end long day at Rogers Cup

MONTREAL — Top seed Simona Halep made quick work of Venus Williams 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday to end a long day at the Rogers Cup that saw her advancing to the quarterfinals.

Halep had to grind out a 7-6 (9-7), 4-6, 7-5 win over Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova earlier in the day, completing a match that began Wednesday but was halted due to rain.

Pavlyuchenkova, ranked 28th, took leads of 2-0 and 4-2 in the third set but was unable to finish off Halep, who won three games in a row to seize a 5-4 advantage and eventually went on to break Pavlyuchenkova for match point in the 12th game.

"It was a great match, a great fight. She played unbelievable and was fighting until the end," Halep told reporters in an on-court interview.

Against Williams, the 26-year-old Romanian saved the only break point she faced in the 74-minute match, and she converted five of her nine break opportunities.

Second seed Dane Caroline Wozniacki went down in her first match of the tournament, losing 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(7-4) to Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. Wozniacki was coming off a disappointing second round loss at Wimbledon and could not turn things around.

Great Britain's Johanna Konta was also forced to complete a pair of matches on Thursday. She finished off Belarus' Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-1 but lost later to fifth seed Ukrainian Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-4.

"She was mentally more warmed up going into the match," Svitolina said. "That's what I thought. I was like, 'C'mon, you have to be ready (because) she will be straight in the match.' I think that really helped me."

France's Caroline Garcia cruised past former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova of Russia 6-3, 6-2, the same score by which Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens upset eighth seed Czech Petra Kvitova.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens, the third seed, beat Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 7-5 to book her spot in the quarterfinals, where she will face Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova, a 6-3, 7-6(7-2) winner over German 10th seed Julia Goerges. Belgian Elise Mertens, Australian Ashleigh Barty and Latvian Anastasija Sevastova also advanced with wins.

Banned Peng denies attempt

to 'coerce' doubles partner

Peng Shuai has denied wrongdoing and vowed to return to Tennis after the Chinese star was banned for six months and fined $10,000 for attempting to force her doubles partner to withdraw from Wimbledon.

The 32-year-old, a two-time Grand Slam winner in women's doubles, was punished on Wednesday by the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), the game's anti-corruption body.

It said that Peng "used coercion and offered the possibility of financial reward" to convince her doubles partner to pull out of Wimbledon in 2017 after the sign-in deadline so that she could swap partners.

Peng, the No. 1 doubles player in February 2014, had the "offer" rebuffed and failed to play doubles at the prestigious tournament.

But that did not stop the TIU banning the veteran for six months, with three suspended, meaning she is not eligible to play until Nov. 8.

The TIU did not name the other player involved, but in denying wrongdoing on social media Peng named the Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck, 24, and said she had not tried to strong-arm her.

"During the 20 years of my professional career I have never used any ways to force a partner to drop out of a match," Peng, who won the women's doubles at Wimbledon in 2013 and Roland Garros in 2014, wrote on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter.

"It was completely her own action to drop out of the doubles. We never gave her any money to drop out of the match with a fake injury."

Peng, whose former coach Bertrand Perret was also banned for three months for his role in the murky affair, said she is considering an appeal.

"In the meantime, I will not retire. I will discuss and solve whether to appeal or not with a lawyer," she wrote on Weibo. — Agencies