Federer beats Mayer to set up semifinal with Thiem

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STUTTGART, Germany – Top-seeded Roger Federer cruised in the tiebreakers to beat German qualifier Florian Mayer 7-6 (2), 7-6 (1) for a place in the Mercedes Cup semifinals on Friday.

Federer struggled in some parts of the match but was at his best when most needed. He saved a set point to force the second tiebreaker, and fired a powerful forehand to clinch the match.

“I am very happy to have made it two sets,” Federer said.

His next opponent will be rising star and third-seeded Dominic Thiem, who beat him in the third round of the Italian Open before Federer went on a monthlong break that included the French Open because of a back injury.

Thiem, from Austria, came from behind to beat Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Federer fired 15 aces to gain his 1,072nd win on the tour, surpassing Ivan Lendl for second place in the Open era behind Jimmy Connors with 1,256.

“It’s crucial to serve well in a tiebreaker,” Federer said. Two months shy of his 35th birthday, Federer is looking for his first title of the year following knee surgery and the back problem.

“It’s good to be back and to win two matches,” he said.

Thiem, a semifinalist at the French Open, said he was surprised to find himself at the same stage on grass.

“I really didn’t expect it. But against Roger on grass, I’m not expecting anything,” Thiem said.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.

Parma Ladies Open semifinals postponed to same day as final

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PARMA, Italy — The semifinals of the Parma Ladies Open have been postponed by a day and will be played shortly before the final.

The decision was made because of persistent rain at the clay-court tournament.

Top-seeded Maria Sakkari will start on center court against Danka Kovinic at 10:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) before sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan’s match against Mayar Sherif.

The final will be after 6 p.m. local time, shortly after the doubles final – with the doubles semifinals also being played earlier in the day on a different court.