Belinda Bencic opts out of U.S. Open

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Belinda Bencic became the latest top tennis player to pull out of the U.S. Open, meaning three of the four female semifinalists in 2019 will not be at the Grand Slam tournament this year.

Bencic wrote on social media on Saturday that she “made the difficult decision to skip the U.S. swing in New York and will return to the tour starting in Rome next month.”

The Italian Open, a clay-court tuneup for the French Open, begins Sept. 14, the day after the U.S. Open ends in New York.

Bencic, a 23-year-old from Switzerland, currently is ranked No. 8, so as of now, five of WTA’s the top eight players have announced they won’t play at Flushing Meadows amid the coronavirus pandemic.

That includes No. 1 Ash Barty, No. 5 Elina Svitolina, No. 6 Bianca Andreescu – the reigning champion – and No. 7 Kiki Bertens.

Bencic, Svitolina and Andreescu reached the final four at the U.S. Open a year ago; the fourth semifinalist, Serena Williams, has said she plans to participate when the tournament begins Aug. 31.

Among the men who said they won’t play at the U.S. Open: 2019 champion Rafael Nadal, five-time champion Roger Federer (who is sidelined for the rest of this season after two operations on his right knee), 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, Fabio Fognini, Gael Monfils and Nick Kyrgios.

Top-seeded Sakkari reaches semifinals at Parma Ladies Open

Maria Sakkari
Robert Prange/Getty Images
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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.