Nadal vs. Murray in Monte Carlo; Tsonga beats Federer

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MONACO (AP) Rafael Nadal beat Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-4 on Friday to reach the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals, where he will face Andy Murray again.

Roger Federer lost 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 to Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, despite being two points from victory when leading 5-4 in the decider with Tsonga 15-30 down on his serve.

This was Federer’s comeback tournament after more than two months out following arthroscopic surgery for torn cartilage.

With Federer and top-ranked Djokovic both out, Nadal will be favorite to win a ninth title here – and his first since 2012.

In a one-sided contest between former champions, Nadal broke Wawrinka four times, and made the semis for the 11th time.

“I defended well, I moved well,” Nadal said. “When I had the opportunity, I was trying to control the point.”

Murray took out Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-0 for the second time this year.

“If I play like I did today, I’ll have a chance,” said Murray, who lost to Nadal in the semifinals in 2009 and 2011 when Nadal was winning eight consecutive Monte Carlo titles.

But Murray beat Nadal in the Madrid Masters final last year, when he won his first two career titles on clay, and Nadal called him “a complete player in all aspects.”

Murray, who was inconsistent in his previous two matches, did not face a break point against the big-serving Canadian and also broke his serve five times.

“I served well today,” Murray said. “Milos can keep the pressure on if you don’t serve well.”

Nadal improved to 15-3 in career matches against Wawrinka, the French Open champion who began as a winner in three of their last five contests.

Having saved 15 of 17 break points in the third round against Dominic Thiem, Nadal conceded only one chance this time.

Wawrinka drew jeers from the crowd in the fifth game of the first set when he broke his racket, angrily bending it around his thigh.

The Swiss player was also frustrated by the noise level coming from people enjoying their lunch in the restaurant perched above center court.

“You wonder whether people are coming to have lunch or to watch tennis. I don’t believe they saw a lot of the match … I think they also drank a lot of alcohol.” Wawrinka said. “When you don’t play well and you’re not in your match, it can bother you.”

Nadal took a more moderate view.

“It’s not new,” he said. “We cannot talk about that after having the same story every day (since) I came here for the first time in 2003.”

In the second set, Wawrinka continued to struggle and was taken either to deuce or broken in every service game.

Wawrinka saved two match points but netted a forehand on Nadal’s next opportunity.

“I wasn’t able to put my game into place,” Wawrinka said. “I really need to work on two or three things. I have two weeks, or a bit more, before I go to Madrid.”

Gael Monfils plays Marcel Granollers later in the remaining quarterfinal.

Top-seeded Sakkari reaches semifinals at Parma Ladies Open

Maria Sakkari
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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past 97th-ranked Maryna Zanevska 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday at the Parma Ladies Open to reach her first semifinal since the grass-court season.

Sakkari, who has gone three sets in all three of her matches this week, will face Danka Kovinic for a spot in the final of the clay-court event after Kovinic beat Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 6-4.

In her previous semifinal, Sakkari lost to Belinda Bencic in Berlin in June. The seventh-ranked Greek player was eliminated by Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open on Aug. 31.

In the bottom half of the draw, Mayar Sherif of Egypt beat American opponent Lauren Davis 7-6 (2), 6-3 to reach her second career semifinal. Sherif next faces Ana Bogdan, who defeated fellow Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 7-6 (6).

Sakkari through to Parma Open quarterfinals; Stephens loses

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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past Arantxa Rus 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Parma Ladies Open.

Sakkari, who accepted a late wild card to the red clay court tournament, was playing her first event since losing to Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open.

The Greek player will next face Maryna Zanevska of Belgium after she eased past Dalma Galfi 6-1, 6-3.

Fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, lost to Danka Kovinic 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.

Kovinic will face Jasmine Paolini in the quarterfinals after the Italian defeated compatriot Elisabetta Cocciaretto 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

There will be an American in the final eight, however, as Lauren Davis rallied to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Sorribes Tormo had eliminated second-seeded Martina Trevisan in straight sets in the opening round.

Davis will play Mayar Sherif after the Egyptian player defeated Simona Waltert 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Also, third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania eased past Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan, who beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.