Serena Williams reaches Rogers Cup quarters in Toronto

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TORONTO — Serena Williams won for the second straight night at the Rogers Cup, beating Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday to reach the quarterfinals.

Playing her first event since losing the Wimbledon final, Williams opened with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Elise Mertens of Belgium on Wednesday. The 37-year-old Williams has won the event three times, all in Toronto.

Williams will face the winner of the late match between No. 2 Naomi Osaka of Japan and Polish qualifier Iga Swiatek.

Third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic advanced to the afternoon, beating Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-3, 7-5. In position to reclaim the top spot in the world ranking this week, Pliskova set up a match against Bianca Andreescu of Canada.

Pliskova finished off Kontaveit in two sets after taking three against American Alison Riske on Wednesday.

“For sure better than it was maybe yesterday,” Pliskova said. “So I guess it’s going to get better every day with what I play. And I always was, I am, improving with matches.”

Andreescu beat fifth-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-1, 6-7 (7), 6-4.

The 19-year-old Andreescu, from nearby Mississauga, improved to 5-0 against top-10 opponents this year. A right shoulder injury has limited her to four events since May.

“Being off for that long and coming into the Rogers Cup and getting into the quarterfinals means so much to me,” Andreescu said. “And this time off actually helped me. I figured a lot of things out – and it’s showing on court.”

Fourth-seeded Simona Halep of Romania, making her first start since beating Williams for the Wimbledon title, beat Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-2, 6-1. Halep will face Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova, a 6-2, 6-2 winner at night over Latvia’s Jalena Ostapenko.

American Sofia Kenin beat Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 6-2. Kenin beat top-ranked Ashleigh Barty in the previous round. In the quarterfinals, Kenin will face sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, a 6-2, 6-4 winner over 11th-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland.

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).