Osaka, Federer withdraw from Italian Open

Getty Images
0 Comments

ROME – Roger Federer and top-ranked Naomi Osaka withdrew before their Italian Open quarterfinals because of injuries on Friday.

Federer reported a right leg injury ahead of his match against Stefanos Tsitsipas, while Osaka said her right hand was injured before she was to play Kiki Bertens.

Federer and Osaka both won two matches on Thursday after play was backed up due to rain a day earlier.

While Osaka won both of her matches in straight sets, the 37-year-old Federer had to labor for more than 2 1/2 hours to overcome Borna Coric in his second time on court.

“I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today. I am not 100 percent physically and, after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play,” Federer said. “Rome has always been one of my favorite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year.”

It’s only the fourth time in Federer’s career he has had a walkover loss, the ATP Tour said, adding the 20-time Grand Slam champion has never retired in 1,465 matches.

Federer was not originally planning to play in Rome but he changed his schedule last week, saying he would rather play matches than practice ahead of the French Open, which starts in nine days.

Tsitsipas and Bertens advanced to the semifinals via walkover.

Osaka couldn’t immediately say how serious the injury was, or if it will affect her status for Roland Garros. She was yet to see a doctor but when she held her hand up for reporters to see it was clearly swollen.

“I woke up this morning and couldn’t really move my thumb,” Osaka said. “I tried to practice and grip my racket but I couldn’t, and I kept feeling this pain when I tried to move my hand in different directions.”

Osaka’s win on Thursday guaranteed that she will remain No. 1 going into the French Open.

“I didn’t feel anything yesterday. That’s why I’m kind of confused right now because I literally woke up in the morning and couldn’t move my thumb,” Osaka said. “So I was like, `Maybe I slept on it and maybe it will go away.’ But it didn’t.”

Bertens, who won the Madrid Open last week, will face Marketa Vondrousova or Johanna Konta for a spot in the final.

The quarterfinals in the other half of the draw feature former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka against Karolina Pliskova, and Kristina Mladenovic against Maria Sakkari in a matchup of two qualifiers.

Tsitsipas’ semifinal opponent will be eight-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal or Fernando Verdasco.

The other men’s quarterfinals are top-ranked Novak Djokovic against Juan Martin del Potro, and Kei Nishikori against Diego Schwartzman.

Osaka also withdrew before a semifinal in Stuttgart, Germany, last month due to an abdominal injury. And she retired from her previous meeting with Bertens at last year’s WTA Finals with a leg injury.

“I feel like the ab thing could have been helped, but this one I don’t think I could have helped it because I don’t know what caused it,” Osaka said. “I don’t know why I have it.”

Unseeded Parks beats top-seeded Garcia for her 1st title

Getty Images
0 Comments

LYON, France — Unseeded American Alycia Parks secured a stunning 7-6 (7), 7-5 upset win over WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in the Open Metropole de Lyon final to clinch her first career title.

“I think France has a special part in my heart right now,” Parks said. “I’ll be back next year.”

The 22-year-old Parks, who is ranked 79th, had 15 aces and saved all four break points against the top-seeded Garcia.

Parks secured the only break of a tight contest to win the match.

The fifth-ranked Garcia, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year, was seeking a 12th career title.

“Congrats on a great tournament,” Garcia told Parks in English. “If you keep playing like this for sure you’re going to keep going up (the rankings).”

Parks has a career-best ranking of 75th.

The 29-year-old Garcia, who grew up in Lyon, took time to thank her home crowd – this time in French.

“It means a lot to play here, thanks for being here,” Garcia said. “You supported me from the first point to the last. Thanks for all your encouragement.”

Zhu beats Tsurenko to win Thailand Open

Getty Images
0 Comments

HUA HIN, Thailand — Zhu Lin of China won her maiden career title after beating Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Thailand Open.

In a match lasting one hour and 45 minutes, both players exchanged nail-biting baseline rallies before Zhu finally found a way past her determined opponent.

The 29-year-old Chinese player managed a break to go up 5-3 in the first set. Although she was broken to love in the following game, Zhu returned the favor straight back, also to love, to take the opening set in 46 minutes.

The second saw players trade breaks with Zhu eventually securing her first match point at 5-3. She sprayed a shot wide to miss the chance but capitalized on her third in the 10th game with a backhand winner.

“I’m so happy to finally win my first tour title. All the hard work finally paid off,” said the No. 54-ranked Zhu, who will crack the top 50 when the new WTA rankings are updated.

Zhu has started the season strongly, reaching the quarter-finals in Auckland and the last 16 at the Australian Open.

The victory also allowed Zhu to avenge her loss to the Ukrainian at the WTA Dubai Championships back in 2019.

Despite the loss, the No. 136-ranked Tsurenko, 33, will return to the top 100.