Wozniacki snaps Stephens’ run, Svitolina routs Halep

Updated 13 August 2017
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Wozniacki snaps Stephens’ run, Svitolina routs Halep

TORONTO: Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki rolled into the final of the WTA Toronto tennis by cooling off the red-hot Sloane Stephens, while Elina Svitolina needed two wins Saturday to punch her ticket to the title match.
Wozniacki, the 2010 champion, required 80 minutes to eliminate a resurgent Stephens 6-2, 6-3 and reach her sixth final of 2017.
Fifth seeded Svitolina quashed defending champ Simona Halep’s quest for back-to-back titles with a 6-1, 6-1 demolition. The win came just hours after she ousted reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a quarterfinal that was postponed from Friday due to rain.
Stephens, who is ranked 934 in the world, was playing in just her third tournament after missing 11 months while recovering from foot surgery. She beat Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber and Lucie Safarova to reach the semifinals.
Wozniacki’s road to the final included a victory over world number one Karolina Pliskova.
None of Wozniacki’s 25 career titles have occurred this year. She is 0-5 in finals in 2017.
“I had one year where I went to six finals and I won all of them,” Wozniacki said. “I guess it’s a give and take sometimes and just that I keep myself in these situations is awesome. I give myself a chance to win and that’s what I’m going to go out (Sunday) and try to do.”
The Danish sixth seed jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first set then broke Stephens again to take a commanding 5-1 lead.
After breezing through the first set, Wozniacki let a 3-1 lead in the second slip away as Stephens levelled at 3-3.
Wozniacki regained the momentum and after a brief rain delay she served out the match at 5-3.
In earlier quarterfinal matches on Saturday, Halep defeated Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 6-4, 6-2 while Svitolina rallied from a first set loss to beat Muguruza.
The pair took to the court early Saturday morning after Friday’s rain delays forced the quarterfinals to stretch into a second day.
Halep needed 70 minutes to advance as she did not drop a serve and broke Garcia three times.
Svitolina looked the fresher of the two in the semifinal against Halep. She hopes that her conditioning holds up in the title match.
“Of course I’m a little bit tired,” Svitolina said. “I didn’t expect this type of day but I’m very happy that I could stay very focused. Yeah, I’m very happy.”
Saturday’s lopsided win helps avenge a crushing defeat Svitolina suffered at the hands of Halep just two months ago during the French Open.
Svitolina was one game away from sweeping Halep in the quarterfinals before an epic collapse that saw her eventually lose 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-0.


Pakistan's Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

Pakistan's Azhar Ali celebrates reaching his century during a match between England and Pakistant on August 4, 2016. (Reuters file)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Pakistan's Azhar Ali signs for Somerset

  • Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month

LONDON: Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali has joined Somerset for the remainder of their first-class English County Championship fixtures this season, the southwest club said Monday.

The 33-year-old replaces Australia opener Matt Renshaw, who made three hundreds at 51.30 in the opening rounds of the Championship before breaking a finger against Surrey at Guildford last month.

Azhar is set to make his Somerset debut against Worcestershire later this month.

"The standard of first-class cricket in England is very high and I hope that I can make a contribution to Somerset winning matches," Azhar told his new county's website.

"I have heard good things about Somerset and I was impressed by what I saw at Taunton in 2016 (when Pakistan opened their tour of England that year against the county).

"I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and meeting the Somerset supporters soon."

Azhar struggled during Pakistan's three Tests against Ireland and England earlier this season, making 73 runs in six innings although his lone fifty did come during Pakistan's impressive victory over England at Lord's.

"Finding the right fit at short notice can be challenging, however we are delighted to have secured a player of Azhar Ali's character, pedigree and class for the remaining seven Specsavers County Championship matches," said Somerset's director of cricket, Andy Hurry.

"His experience at the top of the order will prove to be hugely valuable at the business end of the season.

"I have spoken to him several times over the last few weeks and he is very keen to share his knowledge of the game with our aspirational players, so the influence he can have within the changing room will also be vital for us as a club."