Halep, defending champion Svitolina win at WTA Finals

AP Photo
0 Comments

SHENZHEN, China — Simona Halep saved a match point before beating Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu 3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3 Monday at the WTA Finals.

Halep, a former No. 1 who won the Wimbledon title in July, saved the match point in the 12th game of the second set.

“Today was a challenge because she’s almost 10 years younger than me,” Halep said. “I was really proud of what I did after having a back injury for almost a month.”

After the tiebreaker, both players sought medical treatment. Halep had her foot treated while the 19-year-old Andreescu, the U.S. Open champion, had a lower back problem. Andreescu also called for the trainer in the third set.

“I think she fought really hard,” Andreescu said. “I didn’t take my chances in the second set and after that my back really hurt.

“I’m just really pretty disappointed.”

Earlier, defending champion Elina Svitolina stretched her unbeaten run at the season-ending tournament into a new year, beating Karolina Pliskova 7-6 (12), 6-4 in her opening match.

Svitolina, the only player in this year’s field who has not won a title this season, was unbeaten in the tournament last year.

After exchanging service breaks in the first set, Svitolina converted her seventh set point. Pliskova also had a chance to take the first set, but she failed to take advantage of a set point at 9-8 in the tiebreaker.

“You tell yourself to stay in the moment,” Svitolina said of the lengthy tiebreaker. “You just try to play one rally at a time, to don’t rush. Even when I had the chances to finish the set, because there was few, I thought I could play better.”

After the tiebreaker, Pliskova struggled to stay in the match.

“I think that decided all match,” the Czech player said. “Even though I had some chances in the second set, too, it was a big part of the match, the first set.

“Everything what I just won was because I made a winner or because I was pushing her. Overall I think she didn’t give me many mistakes.”

Svitolina jumped ahead 2-0 in the second set and then broke again for a 4-3 lead.

Pliskova, who had won all three of her previous opening matches at the WTA Finals, leads the tour with four titles this season – winning in Brisbane, Rome, Eastbourne and Zhengzhou. She also leads the tour with most aces served at 481.

Halep and Svitolina are now 1-0 in the Purple Group, while Andreescu and Pliskova are 0-1.

Top-seeded Sakkari reaches semifinals at Parma Ladies Open

Maria Sakkari
Robert Prange/Getty Images
3 Comments

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

Getty Images
2 Comments

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.