Toronto, Aug 9 (AP/UNB) — Serena Williams won for the second straight night at the Rogers Cup, beating Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals.
Playing her first event since losing the Wimbledon final, Williams opened with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Elise Mertens of Belgium on Wednesday. The 37-year-old Williams won the event in 2001, 2011 and 2013 —all in Toronto — and has a match record of 32-4.
"I definitely feel like it takes a while to get back into the rhythm, because we've had a long season of just clay and then grass, and now we're on hard courts," Williams said. "So it definitely feels different, especially for me now. Usually I don't feel that huge of a difference, but for whatever reason I do this year."
The eighth-seeded Williams will face the winner of the late match between No. 2 Naomi Osaka of Japan and Polish qualifier Iga Swiatek.
"I'm feeling good," Williams said. "Just hopefully just being able to stay in the rhythm and playing this week and next week would be good."
Alexandrova staved off 12 break points, but she was broken five times and had 11 double-faults.
"She hit really, really hard and she was hitting a lot of winners," Williams said. "So I was just happy that I was able to just fight through that."
Third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic advanced to the afternoon, beating Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-3, 7-5. In position to reclaim the top spot in the world ranking this week, Pliskova set up a match against Bianca Andreescu of Canada.
Pliskova finished off Kontaveit in two sets after taking three against American Alison Riske on Wednesday.
"For sure better than it was maybe yesterday," Pliskova said. "So I guess it's going to get better every day with what I play. And I always was, I am, improving with matches."
Andreescu beat fifth-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-4.
The 19-year-old Andreescu, from nearby Mississauga, improved to 5-0 against top-10 opponents this year. A right shoulder injury has limited her to four events since May.
"Being off for that long and coming into the Rogers Cup and getting into the quarterfinals means so much to me," Andreescu said. "And this time off actually helped me. I figured a lot of things out — and it's showing on court."
Fourth-seeded Simona Halep of Romania, making her first start since beating Williams for the Wimbledon title, beat Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-2, 6-1. Halep will face Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova, a 6-2, 6-2 winner at night over Latvia's Jalena Ostapenko.
American Sofia Kenin beat Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 6-2. Kenin beat top-ranked Ashleigh Barty in the previous round. In the quarterfinals, Kenin will face sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over 11th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.
Manchester, Aug 8 (AP/UNB) — Manchester City winger Leroy Sane is facing a lengthy layoff with anterior cruciate ligament damage.
City says the German, who limped off in the early stages of Sunday's Community Shield win over Liverpool, will undergo surgery in the coming week.
City has not put a timetable on Sane's return, but Ilkay Gundogan and Benjamin Mendy have both spent months on the sidelines with similar problems in recent seasons. Reconstructive surgery for a torn ACL generally has a recovery time of several months.
City opens its Premier League title defense against West Ham on Saturday.
Milan, Aug 8 (AP/UNB) — Inter Milan completed the signing of Belgium forward Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United on Thursday.
Lukaku put pen to paper on a five-year deal with Inter, joining his younger brother in the Italian league. Jordan Lukaku plays for Serie A rival Lazio.
No financial details were given, but Italian media reported that Inter paid United around 65 million euros ($73 million) plus 13 million euros ($15 million) in bonuses for the 26-year-old Lukaku.
"Inter were the only club I wanted, because Inter is 'Not For Everyone.' I'm here to bring the Nerazzurri back to the top," Lukaku said.
"Not For Everyone" is Inter's new marketing slogan.
Lukaku will add some much-needed firepower to a team that managed only 57 league goals last season — well below the three teams that finished above it in Serie A.
Inter's chief goal scorer Mauro Icardi was stripped of the captaincy and dropped from the squad midway through the season.
Attacking midfielder Radja Nainggolan performed way below expectations and has been sent to Cagliari on loan by new coach Antonio Conte, who was in charge at Chelsea from 2016-18.
Excitement is already building for Lukaku, who was greeted by more than 200 fans when he arrived at Milan's Malpensa airport at 2 a.m. Thursday. They chanted his name, and he smiled and high-fived several fans as he walked past.
Lukaku, who has been training this week with former club Anderlecht, scored 42 times in 96 matches for United after joining from Everton in 2017.
However, he failed to find the net in any of his final eight appearances for the club, with his last goals coming in the dramatic 3-1 win at Paris Saint-Germain in early March.
Lukaku is the top goal scorer in the history of the Belgian national team with 48 goals in 81 games. He helped the team to third place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Johannesburg, Aug 8 (AP/UNB) — South Africa batsman Hashim Amla has retired from all international cricket.
Amla called time on a 15-year international career during which he gained a reputation as one of the country's most naturally gifted batsmen.
Amla finished as South Africa's second highest run-scorer in test cricket behind Jacques Kallis and the third highest in one-day internationals behind Kallis and AB de Villiers.
The stylish right-hander averaged more than 45 in both formats and also holds a string of South African batting records. He is the only South African to make 300 in test cricket and has his country's highest test scores against England, India and the West Indies, and the highest against Australia in the post-apartheid era.
Amla said "I learned many lessons during this incredible ride, made many friends and most importantly shared in the love of a brotherhood."
Jersey City, Aug 8 (AP/UNB) — Tiger Woods' first vacation to Thailand was a lot different from when he goes there for work.
"No one knew who I was," Woods said Wednesday with a smile.
That might be true when no one's trying to bother him at a resort with his mother, children and girlfriend. Still, there's no question Woods is one of Thailand's most lauded sports heroes.
His mother was born and raised in Thailand. Since his first Masters win in 1997, Woods' face has been plastered across Bangkok's newspapers and television stations throughout his highs and lows.
Woods identified himself "Cablinasian" — Caucasian, Black, American Indian and Asian — on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in 1997. Even so, he has always reciprocated the special kinship he has with his Thai roots.
"We wanted to have at least one time where the kids got a chance to experience Thailand with my mom, and so it was special for all of us," Woods said. "The fact that my kids got a chance to be with my mom in her home country was pretty special considering that that may never happen again."
Woods has won his share of tournaments in the Southeast Asian country — he won the 1998 and 2000 Johnnie Walker Classics in Phuket and Bangkok. The 1998 victory was the most memorable — he started the final round eight shots behind Ernie Els, shot 65 and beat him in a playoff. That remains his greatest final-round comeback.
And it was at the 1998 tournament in Phuket that Chuah Choo Chiang, senior director of communications for the PGA Tour who has spent most of his career involved in Asian Tour golf, truly realized the impact Woods had on the region.
"As Tiger was about to win the tournament, one of the Thai players said, 'Hey, it's no problem, it's a win for Thailand as well,'" Choo Chiang said. "And this was a professional on the Asian Tour."
It was like that beyond the borders of Thailand, stretching all over the world. Woods has played in every continent except Antarctica — and returned with a trophy from each. His appeal is massive, and it is particularly strong across Asia.
Woods has played in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Turkey, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The two tournaments he hosts have title sponsors from South Korea and India. He returns to Japan in October for an exhibition and for the Zozo Championship, the first PGA Tour event in Japan.
He played in his mother's home country for the first time in 1997. According to a Sports Illustrated story, Woods landed in Bangkok after a 20-hour flight from Los Angeles. The plane's first-class cabin was bombarded by cameras and journalists from four of the five national TV stations, who began broadcasting live. This was two months before he won the Masters, which set off the first phase of "Tigermania."
Woods was exhausted from the flight and his hectic start to the season. In the delirium, one reporter asked what Woods would like to say to the Thai people.
"I'll sign everything outside," a bleary Woods said, according to the story.
To this day, Thailand's frenzy for Tiger continues. According to Choo Chiang, the excitement levels are the same — if not higher — especially since Woods won the Tour Championship at the end of last season and the Masters in April. It was his first major in 11 years.
"You see young kids in Thailand having the same reaction as to what kids had 20 years before," Choo Chiang said. "They're emulating his swing. They're just in full awe of Tiger."
Thai's own world standing in golf is rising.
Four Thai women were among the top 50 on the LPGA Tour money list last year, led by Ariya Jutanugarn, who won the U.S. Women's Open and ended the year at No. 1 in the world ranking.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, the first Thai PGA Tour member, is sometimes referred to as the "Asian John Daly" for his power and girth. Next on the horizon could be 23-year-old Atiwit "Jazz " Janewattananond, who played in the penultimate group at Bethpage Black in his PGA Championship debut. He is on the cusp of cracking the top 50 in the world ranking.
Aphibarnrat and Janewattananond have talked in length about the effect Woods has had on their lives. It's evident his profound impact is a part of every Thai golfer.
"I could bet you my last dollar every single one has been inspired by Tiger — 110%," Choo Chiang said.