Federer ‘surprised’ by schedule of French Open women’s semis

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PARIS (AP) Roger Federer was among those puzzled by the decisions to relegate the French Open women’s semifinals to lesser courts and a morning start Friday, moves the WTA head called “unfair and inappropriate.”

The conversation about gender inequality was supposed to be taking place across the street from Roland Garros – at nearby Parc des Princes stadium, where soccer’s Women’s World Cup was beginning Friday night.

But the issue also arose at the Grand Slam tennis tournament, where Ash Barty and Marketa Vondrousova won semifinals that started at 11 a.m. in front of hundreds of empty seats in secondary arenas and before the men’s matches – including Federer’s loss to Rafael Nadal – were held in the afternoon in the main stadium.

“You make it all the way to the semis, and you get put on the third-biggest court at 11. It’s a tough one,” Federer said. “When I saw the schedule, also, I was a little bit, like, surprised.”

Normally, all French Open singles semifinals are held in Court Philippe Chatrier, the biggest stadium with nearly 15,000 seats, with the women on Thursday and men on Friday. But after a full day of play was washed out by rain Wednesday, tournament officials were forced to shuffle the schedule.

With quarterfinal play moved to Thursday, the women’s semifinals were shifted to Friday, sharing the day with the men’s semis.

With more rain forecast for Friday, the decision was made to put the two women’s semifinals on simultaneously at the outer stadiums.

“What is tiring and what is really unfortunate in this more than anything is that female athletes have to sit in different positions and have to justify their scheduling or their involvement in an event or their salary or their opportunities,” British player Johanna Konta said after losing to Vondrousova inside the newly constructed Court Simonne Mathieu on the far edge of the grounds.

The Mathieu stadium, which has a capacity of more than 5,000, was mostly empty.

“The way it looks probably speaks for itself more than anything,” Konta said.

WTA CEO Steve Simon said the women’s the tour was “extremely disappointed” by the scheduling.

Amelie Mauresmo, the retired French player turned coach, went one step further and labeled it a “disgrace.”

Problems of this sort could be avoided next year when a retractable roof is scheduled to be functioning over Chatrier.

In the meantime, the 19-year-old Vondrousova will be playing on Chatrier for the first time in Saturday’s final. In fact, she’s been inside the stadium only once – to watch fellow Czech player Lucie Safarova play the 2015 final – when Vondrousova was in attendance as a junior player.

“I don’t mind,” she said. “But I don’t think it should be like that.”

Added Barty: “I will play no matter what court it is. … It’s an opportunity to be in a Grand Slam semifinal. I won’t complain at all.”

AP Tennis Writer Howard Fendrich contributed to this report.

 

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.