Sloane Stephens advances to French Open quarters

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PARIS — Sloane Stephens has no other Grand Slam winners – or even finalists – left in her side of the draw at the French Open after beating 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday.

The seventh-seeded American clinched victory on her fifth match point, setting up an intriguing quarterfinal against Johanna Konta of Britain – herself through to the final eight at Roland Garros for the first time.

The path to a second straight French Open final, and a third overall at a major after her title at the U.S. Open in 2017, would seem to be clearing up for Stephens.

If she beats the 26th-seeded Konta, then her semifinal opponent will be either 31st-seeded Petra Martic of Croatia or unseeded 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova, a left-hander from the Czech Republic. Both are playing in the last eight of a major for the first time.

But Konta does have big-match experience, having reached Grand Slam semifinals at the Australian Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017.

She also has a 2-0 record against Stephens.

Both those matches were played this year: last month in the rain in Rome, the other on Australian hard courts in Brisbane.

“I lost to her in Rome. Really tough day,” Stephens said. “Bad circumstances. Out of the mind. So I’m just going to go in with a clean slate.”

The straight-sets defeat in Brisbane was Stephens’ first match of the year and she admittedly was not well prepared.

“I had a lot of stuff going on at the beginning of the year,” she said. “I think everybody knows I needed a coach. I was kind of all over the place.”

Stephens was runner-up at Roland Garros last year to Simona Halep.

The third-seeded Romanian is still in the draw.

“We have a long way to go until we get there,” said Stephens, who may face another American.

There are three remaining, in the other side of the draw: 14th-seeded Madison Keys, 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, and 20-year-old Sofia Kenin – who knocked out 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams on Saturday.

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.