Serena Williams advances to Rogers Cup semifinals

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TORONTO — Serena Williams advanced to the Rogers Cup semifinals Friday night, beating soon-to-be-top-ranked Naomi Osaka of Japan 6-3, 6-4 at breezy at York University.

Playing her first event since losing the Wimbledon final, Williams will face the winner of the late match between fourth-seeded Simona Halep of Romania and Czech qualifier Marie Bouzkova.

The 37-year-old Williams, ranked 10th and seeded eighth, won the event in 2001, 2011 and 2013 – all in Toronto – and has a tournament-record 33 victories in 37 matches. She won the last of her 72 singles titles in the 2017 Australian Open.

Osaka will go from No. 2 to No. 1 on Monday when the new ranking is announced. She played Williams for the first time since beating her last year in the U.S. Open final.

Halep is playing her first event since beating Williams in the Wimbledon final.

In the afternoon, Bianca Andreescu became the first Canadian Rogers Cup semifinalist since 1979, overcoming a groin injury to beat third-seeded Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic 6-0, 2-6, 6-4. Andreescu will face American Sofia Kenin, a 7-6 (2), 6-4 winner over sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.

The 19-year-old Andreescu, from nearby Mississauga, is returning from a right shoulder injury that sidelined her since the French Open in May. She won in Indian Wells in March for her first WTA Tour title.

“In the third set I told myself, `Go big or go home,”‘ Andreescu said. “Literally go home. My home is like two minutes from here. I just went out there and I never gave up because it’s not over until it’s over.”

Andreescu played her fourth consecutive three-set match. She needed a medical timeout in the second set for treatment of the groin injury.

“It’s not easy, that’s for sure,” Andreescu said. “Right now, I’m just really happy my mind and my body are holding up. My team, too, I’m so sorry guys for putting you through all of that.”

The 20-year-old Kenin upset top-ranked Ashleigh Barty in the first round.

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).