Federer begins bid for No. 1 spot with easy win

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ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) At the age of 36, Roger Federer is now two wins away from reclaiming the top ranking for the first time in six years.

Federer began his campaign at the ABN AMRO tournament on Wednesday with a flawless performance, defeating Ruben Bemelmans 6-1, 6-2 in just 46 minutes.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was in complete control against the Belgian qualifier. The Swiss hit six aces, dropped only four points on his serve, and broke Bemelmans four times in the first round.

Federer will replace his old rival Rafael Nadal at No. 1 if he reaches the semifinals at the indoor tournament. By achieving the feat, he would also become the oldest top-ranked male player. Andre Agassi holds the record, at 33 years, 133 days old.

Federer next plays Philipp Kohlschreiber, a player he has never lost to in 12 previous matches.

Earlier, David Goffin eased into the quarterfinals by defeating Feliciano Lopez 6-1, 6-3. Goffin had nine aces and dropped just two points behind his first serve to extend his unbeaten record against Lopez to 3-0.

The seventh-ranked Goffin, who beat Nicolas Mahut in straight sets in his previous match, will next face sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych.

Second-seeded Grigor Dimitrov beat Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the first round and Robin Haase won an all-Dutch contest against Thiemo de Bakker 6-2, 6-2. Dimitrov and Haase were joined in the second round by qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who advanced after Richard Gasquet retired while trailing 3-1.

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.