Nadal beats Struff to reach Barcelona Open semifinals

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BARCELONA, Spain — Rafael Nadal brushed off a challenge from German Jan-Lennard Struff to earn a 7-5, 7-5 win and a place in the Barcelona Open semifinals on Friday.

The top-seeded Nadal will next face either Dominic Thiem or Guido Pella as he seeks a 12th title on the outdoor clay courts at Barcelona.

Struff, who beat last year’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas in the previous round, fought back from an early break to make a match of it.

Nadal avoided a first-set tiebreaker by pushing Struff into a 0-40 hole on his final service game. He then closed out the set when Struff could only stab his passing shot off the court.

Both players held serve in the second set until Nadal again broke Struff’s final service game. Nadal finished the match by chasing down a ball and landing a backhand return just inside the opposing corner.

Nadal improved his record at Barcelona to 61-3.

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 Saturday’s final.

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

Top-seeded Maria Sakkari will start on center court against Danka Kovinic at 10:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) on Saturday 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.

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).