Ukrainian teen who plays Serena next saw matchup coming

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams’ next Australian Open opponent, 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska, feels as if she saw Saturday’s matchup coming a decade ago.

She tells the story of being at home in Ukraine at the age of 8 and watching on TV as Williams — whom she calls “a legend” — fell behind in a Grand Slam match. That was, understandably, distressing to the little fan. Dayana, who’d been taking tennis lessons since she was 4 1/2, decided Williams could use some help.

So the kid ran to her bedroom, grabbed a racket and resumed following along with the broadcast, pretending to hit the shots Williams needed to hit.

“She won a point. She won a game. She won a set. She won a match. I was screaming at the same time she was screaming. And when she won the match, I had in my thoughts that, ‘Well, I guess we won together. It’s our win,’” Yastremska said, laughing at the memory. “And then I had another thought that, ‘Maybe, one day I’m going to play (against) her in the big arena.’”

That’ll happen in the third round at Melbourne Park — in what’ll be only the fourth Slam match for the 57th-ranked Yastremska, who trains at Justine Henin’s tennis academy in Belgium.

Yastremska’s two wins this week are her first at this level and they came against 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur and No. 23 seed Carla Suarez Navarro.

It’ll be Slam match No. 379 for the formerly top-ranked Williams, who is 333-45 and already has 23 Grand Slam titles, including seven from the Australian Open alone.

Asked what she knows about Yastremska, who was born about eight months after Williams won her first major championship at the 1999 U.S. Open, the 37-year-old American responded that her coach would provide a scouting report.

“I’m going to just go out there and obviously take her extremely serious,” Williams said. “She’s here, made it this far, and she’s here to win.”

Saturday’s match won’t be their first face-to-face encounter, according to Yastremska.

She said the pair crossed paths in the locker room this week.

“I just say, ‘Hello,’ and ‘You have a great daughter, and I respect you a lot as a person, as a player.’ She told me, ‘Thank you so much. You’re so nice, so sweet,’” Yastremska recounted.

Just like any admirer getting the chance to meet an idol.

Now they’ll share a court with a fourth-round berth at stake.

“I always wanted to be like her. But getting older, I realized I have to (have) my own style,” said Yastremska, the junior runner-up at Wimbledon in 2016 and owner of one WTA title.

“It’s like a dream come true, so I’m going to try to (beat) her. I’m going to try to show my best tennis,” Yastremska said, then, thinking back to her 8-year-old self, added: “And maybe later, I’m going to tell her this story.”

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.

Nakashima takes first ATP Tour title at San Diego

San Diego Open - Finals
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SAN DIEGO – Brandon Nakashima earned his first ATP Tour victory in his hometown, beating friend and fellow Southern Californian Marcos Giron 6-4, 6-4 in the San Diego Open final.

“It’s super-special, something you dream of, but to have it happen in my hometown with all my friends and family here, it’s a moment I’ll never forget,” said Nakashima, who had two previous finals appearances. “I hope there are many more moments like this to come.”

Nakashima, a 21-year-old who grew up in San Diego and trained extensively at the event’s site as a junior, clinched the opening set in only 30 minutes. The second set, filled with lengthy rallies, took nearly an hour.

Giron, the No. 5 seed and former NCAA title winner from UCLA, wasn’t able to fend off Nakashima’s persistent ground strokes and well-placed serves. Nakashima had eight aces, six in the first set.

Serving at 5-4 in the second set, Nakashima tallied the match’s deciding two points when Giron pushed an easy volley into the net, followed by Nakashima’s second-serve ace.

He earned $93,090, about half of what received for reaching the third round of the U.S. Open in early September.

Nakashima, who was ranked No. 69 on the ATP Tour, moved up to 48, his highest ranking in nearly three years on tour. Despite the loss, Giron moved up to 53 from 58.

Not only was the singles title claimed by an American, the doubles title also taken by an American duo as the second-seeded pair of Nathaniel Lammons and Jackson Withrow defeated Australians Jason Kubler and Luke Saville 7-6 (5), 6-2.

The $612,00 event was held at Barnes Tennis Center, which next hosts the $757,900 WTA 500 San Diego Open, Oct. 8-16. That will feature 16 of the world’s top-ranked 20 women pros, led by No. 1 Iga Swiatek.