France-Belgium 2-2 in Davis Cup final after Goffin wins

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LILLE, France (AP) David Goffin kept alive Belgium’s hopes of winning its first Davis Cup title by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-2 in the first reverse singles match on Sunday to level the final at 2-2.

Goffin, who also won his opening singles without dropping a set, delivered a superb performance to defeat France’s top player.

Belgium’s Steve Darcis will be up against Lucas Pouille in the final match. Darcis has won all five decisive matches he has played in the Davis Cup so far.

Tsonga served extremely well in the first set and had six chances to break Goffin, but his Belgian rival weathered some blistering groundstrokes and showed nerves of steel on important points.

Goffin saved a set point with a forehand winner at 6-5 and sealed the tiebreaker on his first chance, with a backhand winner down the line.

“I missed several chances in the first set, I should have been more opportunistic,” Tsonga said. “After, it was complicated, he played more relaxed and there was not much I could do.”

The seventh-ranked Goffin broke for a 4-2 lead in the second set after Tsonga double faulted, and broke twice in the third set after pressuring the Frenchman into many mistakes.

Goffin has been in terrific form recently and was runner-up at the ATP Finals last week in London, where he defeated both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Despite fatigue and an ailing knee, Goffin carried his London form into the northern French city of Lille, where he demolished Pouille on Friday before Tsonga leveled at 1-1 with a straight-set win over Darcis. The French won Saturday’s doubles.

Goffin treated the raucous Belgian fans to some stunning shots, and effectively ended Tsonga’s resistance early in the second set when he saved another break point with a fine drop-shot volley. Goffin then hit a big serve and an ace to stay in control.

Tsonga, who received treatment on his neck after the opening set, looked more and more discouraged as the match progressed and made two straight unforced errors to trail 4-1 in the third set.

Tsonga and France captain Yannick Noah were furious at deuce in the sixth game when umpire James Keothavong refused to allow a video challenge. Tsonga thought Goffin’s shot was out – and stopped playing – but he failed to raise his hand to signal the ball was out.

The match resumed after several minutes amid boos and whistles from the crowd. Tsonga saved two match points in the seventh game but could not prevent Goffin from closing out the match on his next service game.

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.