Pennetta advances into Serena's path

TORONTO - Italy's Flavia Pennetta breezed past Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski 6-4, 6-1 Monday at the WTA Rogers Cup, booking a second-round date Tuesday with world number one Serena Williams. Williams has won all six prior matches against the Italian, who will be the US superstar's first hardcourt foe since winning her fourth Grand Slam title in a row last month at Wimbledon. "It's going to be nice because I'll play one of the best players ever," Pennetta said. "But it's good because she's the hardest test and I'll see where my game is." Williams, who has dropped only one career set to Pennetta, is trying to complete a calendar-year Grand Slam and match Steffi Graf with an Open Era-record 22 Grand Slam singles crowns by winning the US Open, which starts in three weeks at New York.–AFP

Illness blamed for Kvitova's struggles

PRAGUE - Czech star Petra Kvitova's recent drop in form has been blamed on the world number four suffering from mononucleosis earlier this year. "Blood tests showed that she had mononucleosis in the spring," the 25-year-old's spokesman Karel Tejkal told AFP on Monday. The 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion and three-time Fed Cup winner will compete this week in the WTA tournament in Toronto, one of several tune-up events for the US Open starting later this month. "Petra can continue her planned programme but under medical supervision," said Tejkal, with the Czech seeded third in Toronto. Kvitova mysteriously disappeared from the circuit at the end of February citing the "need to rest". She returned in April for the semi-finals of the Fed Cup which the Czech Republic won 3-1 by beating France.–AFP

Rory McIlroy confirms PGA start

KOHLER - World number one Rory McIlroy confirmed Monday he will defend his title in this week's PGA Championship and says the left ankle he injured is 100 percent ready to play. The 26-year-old star suffered ligament damage in the ankle last month while playing football with friends, missing his chance to defend the British Open crown last month at St. Andrews. McIlroy played practice rounds at Whistling Straits over the weekend to test his ankle and went around nine holes in the rain on Monday. "To play golf, it's 100 percent," McIlroy said. "To go back on a soccer pitch, it wouldn't be quite ready. But to do what I need to do this week, it's 100 percent." McIlroy will play the first two rounds alongside US Open and Masters winner Jordan Spieth and British Open champion Zach Johnson.–AFP

DeLaet withdraws from PGA

KOHLER - Canada's Graham DeLaet has withdrawn from the 97th PGA Championship because of a left thumb injury, tournament officials said Monday. DeLaet suffered the injury at the Canadian Open last month and missed last week's World Golf Championships event as a result. "So disappointed that I can't tee it up at the PGA," DeLaet said in a Twitter posting. "Need some time for my body to heal. I plan on being back and ready for a playoff run." The season-ending US PGA Tour playoffs begin two weeks after the year's final major tournament, which begins Thursday at Whistling Straits. DeLaet pulling out opened the door for American Sean O'Hair to enter the field. It will be O'Hair's first major start since the 2012 PGA Championship and his ninth appearance in the event, his most at any major.–AFP

FIFA appoint reform commission chairman

PARIS - FIFA on Tuesday appointed former International Olympic Committee director general Francois Carrard to lead the world football governing body's 2016 Reform Committee. Swiss lawyer Carrard previously guided the IOC through its own governance reforms in the wake of the bribery scandal-hit Salt Lake City Winter Olympics of 2002. FIFA is currently reeling from its own bribery scandal after seven football officials were arrested in a raid on a Zurich hotel on the eve of a FIFA congress in May. "It is vital for the future of global football to restore the integrity and reputation of its governing body," said Carrard. "As the independent chairman, I am committed to delivering the necessary package of credible reforms, working with representatives from within football and wider society.”–AFP