Murray’s cursing, muttering highlight virtual tennis

Getty Images
1 Comment

A little glimpse of what a mic’d-up Andy Murray might sound like on a real-life court – cursing, muttering, grunting – provided the highlights for the coronavirus pandemic’s first video game tennis tournament involving pros.

Alas, the gaming itself was full of glitches galore as the four-day event wrapped up Thursday.

Murray and his semifinal opponent for this virtual version of the Madrid Open, Diego Schwartzman, kept needing to stop and start over when there were technical issues both men complained about.

It was left to Murray’s exclamations of “Oh, my God! What was that?” or “This is madness!” or “This has got to be one of the worst matches I’ve ever seen!” to offer a semblance of entertainment, and perhaps a sense of what the three-time major champion sounds like when he’s actually competing.

No one is on the ATP or WTA tours these days, though. The Madrid Open, a clay-court tuneup for the French Open that was supposed to begin Friday, is among more than 30 tournaments canceled or postponed; sanctioned pro tennis is on hold at least until mid-July.

Ultimately, if one of the main purposes of this esports endeavor – aside from giving players and their fans something to do under the COVID-19 lockdown, and offer some money for charity – was to promote the video game being streamed, well, it wasn’t always the best advertisement.

The hiccups made it tough to follow along, creating the equivalent of rain delays. First there was a break of about 2+ minutes. After starting over, they soon were pausing for nearly another 3 minutes before resuming again.

Even after Schwartzman eventually “won,” he said, “I don’t deserve to be in the final,” and declared it made sense for him to bow out and let Murray continue.

Which seemed to fit with the general silliness of the whole thing.

So did some of the unnecessary commentary, which served only to drown out the banter among the players, or to provide, um, insights such as this during Murray’s win over David Goffin in the men’s final (Kiki Bertens won the women’s title with a controller Thursday, a year after claiming the Madrid trophy with her racket): “I just can’t get over the quality of tennis being played by both men here. A real neck-and-neck affair here.”

Cue the eye roll emojis.

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.