Rogers Cup: Serena Williams beats Elise Mertens in straight sets

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Serena Williams
Williams won the title iin 2001, 2011 and 2013

Serena Williams eased into the third round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto with a straight-set victory over Belgium’s Elise Mertens.

Ashleigh Barty’s second-round defeat saw her surrender her eight-week reign as world number one, with Karolina Pliskova also in the running to take over at the top.

Czech third seed Pliskova beat American Alison Riske 6-4 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 to set up a meeting with Anett Kontaveit in the next round.

Elsewhere, defending champion and fourth seed Simona Halep beat American Jennifer Brady 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7-5) while sixth seed Elina Svitolina – winner in 2017 – defeated Katerina Siniakova 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Belinda Bencic – champion in 2015 – beat Julia Goerges in straight sets but there were defeats for Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

Williams dominates after steady start

Eighth seed Williams – playing in her first match since losing the Wimbledon final – last won the title in 2013 and is using this year’s tournament as a warm-up for the US Open, which starts on 26 August, where she will go for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

After a slow start, in which Mertens went an early break up, world number 10 Williams fought back to win five consecutive games before serving out the opening set.

In the second set, 23-year-old Mertens broke Williams’ serve at the first opportunity but Williams quickly responded and went a double break up.

She sealed the match on break point with world number 20 Mertens having made eight double faults and 19 unforced errors in the match.

“I feel like my movement is great,” said Williams. “[I’ve] been working on my fitness, so I felt like it really was able to shine through.”

Her third-round meeting with Alexandrova – who beat China’s Zhang Shuai 6-4 6-3 – will be her first against the Russian qualifier

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atheletic bilbao 1-0 barcelona

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Aritz Aduriz

Lacklustre Barca were punished when substitute Aduriz found the net with a stunning 89th-minute scissor-kick.

“Sometimes football is so beautiful and when you least expect it a ball like that comes to your feet and goes into the net,” he said.

Luis Suarez and Rafinha both hit the woodwork for Barca.

But the visitors – without the injured Lionel Messi – struggled to impress despite fielding new £107m signing Antoine Griezmann, and Suarez was forced off with a first-half injury.

There were no such concerns for Aduriz and Athletic after the striker – who will retire at the end of the season – threw himself into the air and acrobatically volleyed past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to earn his side a first league win over Barcelona since 2013.

“It’s incredible when the fans cheer for you like they did today,” said Aduriz, who scored a hat-trick against Barca in a 4-0 win in the 2015 Spanish Super Cup.

“It’s impossible that I won’t end up missing that but everything must come to an end.”

He becomes the only player, after Messi, to have scored in 15 consecutive seasons in La Liga.

Aritz Aduriz
Delighted fans salute Aduriz after his late wonder goal

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde worked with Aduriz for four seasons while at Athletic and he knew exactly where the ball was heading when it came towards the towering striker.

“When I saw him shaping to shoot I knew exactly what would happen, it’s an area of the game he utterly dominates and I wasn’t surprised by the strike at all,” said Valverde.

“With Aduriz on the pitch any ball crossed into the area is deadly and he scored a brilliant goal.”

Athletic coach Gaizka Garitano described Aduriz as “a competitive animal”.

“He is the first to arrive at training and the last to leave. You might lose some sharpness with age but you never lose your hunger or your competitiveness,” he added.

“It was an incredible goal. Even though he is 38 he has a unique ability at striking the ball and he has won us the game. He is a player that no matter how old he is he makes the difference.”

With Messi missing with a calf injury and Philippe Coutinho not involved amid reports he is set to join Bayern Munich on loan, Barca suffered a further blow as Suarez hobbled off before half-time, also with a calf injury.

Valverde’s side – chasing a third successive La Liga title – also included midfielder Frenkie de Jong, a £65m signing from Ajax but were disjointed for long spells and managed just two shots on target.

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