Humbert and Paire set up all-French final in Auckland

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Unseeded Ugo Humbert will play fifth-seeded Benoit Paire in an all-French final of the ASB Classic.

Humbert beat fourth seed and two-time champion John Isner 7-6 (5), 6-4 on Friday to reach his first career final.

Paire later beat sixth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 6-4, 6-7 (0), 6-2 to reach his ninth final and his first in Auckland.

Close friends, Paire and Humbert have met only once on tour, last August, when Paire won in three sets at Winston-Salem.

“To play against Ugo in the final is something special, between French guys,” Paire said. “I know him, he’s young and he’s a very good player, next gen.”

Humbert has been the giant killer this week beating second-seeded Denis Shapavalov and 20th-ranked Isner.

Isner fought his way out of some tight spots in reaching the semifinals; his first two matches included four tiebreakers and the American faced another on Friday in the first set against Humbert.

This time, Humbert had the slight edge. Isner managed only 12 aces, well down on his average, and made 32 unforced errors to give Humbert a vital advantage.

Paire once again had a costly outburst in the second set when he conceded a point penalty for racket abuse during the tiebreaker. He quickly composed himself, gained an early break in the third set and held on to take the match.

“I’m very sorry, I broke one racket and I was very nervous,” Paire said. “It’s very hard to play against Hubert.

“I’ve only two (rackets) left so I hope I can win the final.”

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.