Ashleigh Barty party doesn’t last long at Brisbane International

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BRISBANE, Australia — World No. 1 Ash Barty’s new year has started with an upset loss to American qualifier Jennifer Brady.

The 53rd-ranked Brady, who has no WTA tournament victories, beat French Open champion Barty on her home court at Pat Rafter Arena 6-4, 7-6 (4) on Thursday.

It was a second-round match for both players but Barty had received a first-round bye. Brady had beaten wild-card entry Maria Sharapova in the first round in three sets.

It’s the first time in three matches the 24-year-old Brady has defeated Barty, who was guilty of multiple unforced errors throughout the match.

Brady’s baseline game was crucial to the win, swinging hard throughout with a rusty Barty unable to break the American’s rhythm.

Brady won the opening set in 36 minutes, securing the only break of serve of the match in the seventh game of the set. Barty failed to get close to breaking Brady’s serve throughout and couldn’t force the match into a third set after a 55-minute second set.

Barty has failed to get past the second round in five appearances at the Brisbane International. Brady was playing her fifth match of the season after three qualifiers and Tuesday’s win over Sharapova.

The Australian’s lack of match play could be seen in her 26 unforced errors but she was also keen to pay credit to Brady, who lost just one point on her first serve and didn’t have to face a single break point.

“You can call it rust or you can just call it a bit of execution,” Barty said. “For me it was on those returning games. I had probably had half a dozen second-serve returns where I failed to make it into the court, in that first set in particular. And then Jen grew in confidence. You have to give credit where credit’s due.”

The 23-year-old Australian remains active in the doubles at her hometown event and is in the field for next week’s Adelaide International before starting her Australian Open campaign.

“It’s rare in sport that you get an opportunity every single week and so quickly … that’s one of the beautiful things about tennis is that next week you get a chance in Adelaide to kind of come out there and try and execute that little bit better,” Barty said.

In later matches Thursday, defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka played American Sofia Kenin and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova took on Ludmilla Samsonova.

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.