Cincinnati Masters: Ashleigh Barty beats Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep survives scare

first_imgTop seeded Ashleigh Barty overcame a slow start to defeat Maria Sharapova 6-4 6-1, while Simona Halep battled past Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6 7-5 6-4 in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday.French Open champion Barty double faulted to give Sharapova a 2-1 lead in the first set and it looked like an upset could be brewing in the showdown between the two former world number ones.But an error-prone Sharapova bowed out after she produced six double faults and squandered six of her seven break point opportunities.”Overall it was a pretty clean performance”, Barty said.”It’s difficult to come out against a player like Maria. She’s an incredible champion, she knows how to fight and she makes you earn every single point.”So I was really pleased with the way I was able to hang in there today and win some of those big points.”Barty earned an early break in the second set when she rifled a crosscourt forehand that caught Sharapova flat footed for a 2-0 lead.Sharapova fought hard the next game, forcing seven deuces but was unable to break and Barty cruised to the finish from there, winning 11 of the last 13 games.Barty will next face Anett Kontaveit, who defeated Polish teenager Iga Swiatek in straight sets.Wimbledon champion Halep had her back against the wall against the big-serving Alexandrova when she dropped the first set and trailed 5-4 in the second but won the next three games and elevated her play again in the decider.advertisementThe match was the first for Halep since she pulled out of her quarter-final at the Rogers Cup on Friday with an Achilles issue but she moved well in her battle with the Russian.Fourth seed Halep is searching for her first title at the event after three runner-up finishes in 2015, 2017 and 2018.”I feel confident every time I come here but the conditions are very tough. The court is very fast,” the Romanian said.World number one Naomi Osaka improved to 4-0 lifetime against Aliaksandra Sasnovich with a 7-6(3) 2-6 6-2 win.Osaka, who regained the top ranking after Barty’s early exit from the Rogers Cup last week, smacked 24 winners as she looks to sharpen her game before heading to New York later this month to defend her U.S. Open title.She faces Hsieh Su-Wei in the third round.Third seeded Karolina Pliskova crushed lucky loser Wang Yafan 6-1 6-3 and Donna Vekic knocked out former champion Victoria Azarenka 6-2 7-5 to set up a showdown with Venus Williams on Thursday.Seventh seed Elina Svitolina, ninth seed Aryna Sabalenka and big-serving American Madison Keys all advanced to the third round behind straight set wins.Svitolina set up a date with American Sofia Kenin, who beat Zarina Diyas 6-4 6-1.Another American, eighth seed Sloane Stephens, had a tougher match against Yulia Putintseva but prevailed 2-6 6-4 6-3 and will next face Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2 winner over Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska.Also Read | Cincinnati Masters: Novak Djokovic sees off Sam Querrey, Stan Wawrinka beats Grigor DimitrovAlso Read | Cincinnati Masters: Venus Williams stuns holder Kiki Bertens, injured Serena withdrawsAlso Seelast_img read more

More pain in the oil patch CanElson Drilling halves dividend cuts capital

CALGARY — CanElson Drilling Inc. said Monday it will reduce its quarterly dividend by 50%, defer the completion of three new drilling rigs, and reduce its capital budget by 80% as a result of low crude oil and natural gas prices.The Calgary-based company says activity remains relatively strong its expects both activity and pricing levels to decline in 2015 in response to what appears to be a prolonged decline in global oil prices.CanElson said it expects to reduce the active rig count — with the biggest reductions in Saskatchewan and North Dakota.Our continued financial discipline will allow CanElson to weather the impact of sustained low commodity pricesIts capital program will fall to $12.9 million from $63.9 million and its quarterly dividend fall to three cents from six cents per share but the company says CanElson has well-positioned itself to withstand price cycles.“Our modern fleet of drilling rigs and our continued financial discipline will allow CanElson to weather the impact of sustained low commodity prices,” said Randy Hawkings, CanElson’s president and chief executive.Is this the end of the oil market as we know it?Oil storage piles up in Hardisty, but price gap leaves traders at disadvantageThe company says 36 drilling rigs, representing 72% of its fleet, are currently active but the number is expected to fall.It also says construction of three rigs — which were to contracted to a customer — has been delayed indefinitely and negotiations with the customer are ongoing. The company had spent $13.6 million on components for the rigs as of Dec. 31.The company’s next financial report is scheduled for March 2, when 2014 12-month and fourth-quarter results are issued. read more

Olympic torch relay to make stop Saturday at UN Headquarters

Secretary-General Kofi Annan will light a cauldron from the torch’s flame at around at 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Joining him at the event will be General Assembly President Julian R. Hunte of St. Lucia, as well as the Greek Alternate Minister for Culture, Fanny Palli-Petralia, and the head of the Athens Organizing Committee, Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki. Among the 140 relay runners in New York are Toni Jones and Daniel Mejia, two young people whose lives have been deeply affected by conflict and chosen by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to carry the torch into and out of the UN complex. Ms. Jones, 18, was born in Monrovia, Liberia. After being forced to flee the country in 1990 because of political conflict, she and her family spent three years living in a UNICEF-supported refugee camp. During that time, her eight-year-old friend was kidnapped, forced to become a child soldier, and later killed in the conflict, inspiring Ms. Jones to become an influential voice against the use of children as soldiers. Daniel, 17, was born in Queens, New York, after his parents emigrated from Colombia 20 years ago. Daniel’s uncle was the victim of a political assassination in Colombia in 1994. Many of his relatives have received asylum in the United States and now live in Miami and New York City. read more