Venus Williams reaches semifinals at WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE — Venus Williams reached the semifinals at the WTA Finals by beating Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday.

The 37-year-old Williams advanced from the White Group along with Karolina Pliskova, who lost to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-1. Both Williams and Pliskova finished with 2-1 records.

Williams, who first reached the No. 1 ranking in February 2002, was asked how she has managed to have such a long career.

“I use a lot of sun protection, sunscreen. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables,” Williams said. “That’s been the key to my success.”

Williams won the WTA Finals in 2008 and reached the final in 2009, which was the last time she appeared in the year-end tournament.

On Thursday, Muguruza made 32 unforced errors to 26 for Williams.

“I’m very proud of this year.” said Muguruza, who reached the No. 1 ranking for the first time this season. “I knew here that it’s going to be tough, the best eight players are playing.”

Pliskova led 3-2 in the first set of the early match, but the already-eliminated Ostapenko won the next seven games for a 6-3, 3-0 lead.

“Really tough to push myself into it and to play the best tennis if you know you’re qualified,” Pliskova said. “Wasn’t being ever in this situation, so I felt weird today.”

Pliskova, who earned the No. 1 ranking for the first time in her career after Wimbledon, remains in contention to finish the season at the top. Muguruza, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki also have a chance to become the year-end No. 1.

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.

Sorribes Tormo beats 2nd-seeded Trevisan at Parma Open

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PARMA, Italy — Sara Sorribes Tormo beat second-seeded Martina Trevisan 7-5, 6-0 in the opening round of the Parma Ladies Open – marking the third consecutive first-round loss for this year’s French Open semifinalist.

Third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu advanced when Viktoriya Tomova retired with Begu leading 7-5, 5-1.

Danka Kovinic beat Oceane Dodin 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 and will next face 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Also on the red clay courts, Mayar Sherif of Egypt eliminated fifth-seeded Anna Bondar 7-5, 6-4; Elisabetta Cocciaretto defeated seventh-seeded Nuria Parrizas Diaz 7-5, 6-1; and Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti earned her first tour-level win by beating Romanian qualifier Gabriela Lee 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.