Toronto: Stephens gathering steam, Svitolina, Halep cruise

Published by Matt Trollope

Sloane Stephens scored her first top-five win since 2013 after beating Angelique Kerber to reach the quarterfinals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto; Getty Images
Sloane Stephens notched another impressive win in her comeback to tennis while Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep were in ruthless moods on Thursday at the Rogers Cup.

Sloane Stephens on Thursday produced a masterful performance to completely outplay Angelique Kerber at the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

The American, just three tournaments into a comeback from foot surgery that kept her off tour for nearly a year, routed the third seed 6-2 6-2 in just 58 minutes.

It was Stephens’s first victory over a top-five ranked player since she beat Maria Sharapova in the second round of Cincinnati four years ago, and follows on from her upset victory over 14th seed Petra Kvitova in the previous round.

The former world No.11 – currently ranked 934th – goes on to face Lucie Safarova in the quarterfinals; Safarova beat Washington DC champion Ekaterina Makarova 6-3 6-7(3) 6-2.

Later on Thursday, Elina Svitolina administered a similar thumping to the one Stephens inflicted on Kerber.

The No.5 seed overwhelmed ninth seed Venus Williams in exactly one hour to advance to the last eight where she will face Garbine Muguruza, who ended the run of qualifier Ash Barty.

Although she struck more winners, Williams sprayed more than double the amount of unforced errors of Svitolina, who has now won 41 matches in 2017.

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“I was just trying to focus on my game and play one point at a time,” Svitolina said in her on-court interview.

“I was just trying to be there in the right moment, move quick, look for the ball and play as deep as I could to make her feel uncomfortable. I needed to stay calm tonight and just really be focused on each point. I’m very happy that I could win in straight sets.”

Advancing in even more emphatic style was No.2 seed Simona Halep, who dropped just one game in a 59-minute win over Barbora Strycova.

Halep, the defending champion in Canada after winning last year’s Montreal edition of the tournament, lines up in the quarterfinals against Caroline Garcia, who brushed aside 18-year-old CiCi Bellis in straight sets.

Also progressing was Caroline Wozniacki – a 6-3 6-1 winner over Agnieszka Radwanska – and world No.1 Karolina Pliskova, who’d dropped the second set to Naomi Osaka before the Japanese youngster was forced to retire with an abdominal injury.

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