Pliskova advances in Toronto, could regain No. 1

TORONTO — Third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic advanced to the Rogers Cup quarterfinals Thursday, 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. Andreescu beat fifth-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-4.

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.”

The 19-year-old Andreescu improved to 5-0 against top-10 opponents this year.

Serena Williams faced Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova in a night match, with the winner playing No. 2 Naomi Osaka of Japan or Polish qualifier Iga Swiatek.

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 night. The 37-year-old Williams has won the event three times, all in Toronto.

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 the winner of the night match between Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova and 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.