Serena Williams advances to Rogers Cup quarters

Former world No. 1 Serena Williams cruised into the quarterfinals as she beat Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday at the Rogers Cup.

Playing her first event since losing the Wimbledon final, Williams opened with an overwhelming 6-3, 6-3 victory over Elise Mertens of Belgium on Wednesday. The 37-year-old American has won the event three times.

Williams will meet the winner of the late match between world No. 2 Naomi Osaka of Japan and Polish qualifier Iga Swiatek.

Third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic beat Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-3, 7-5, advancing to the quarterfinals. In position to reclaim the top spot in the world rankings this week, Pliskova set up a match against Bianca Andreescu of Canada.

Pliskova beat 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 finished off fifth-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-4.

The 19-year-old Andreescu, from nearby Mississauga, advanced 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 quarters, Kenin will face sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, who snatched a 6-2, 6-4 win over 11th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.