No fans as Elina Svitolina advances at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — The rally lasted 41 shots, with the players trading baseline groundstrokes for more than a minute, and when it ended, one person applauded.

The atmosphere was different for the sixth day of play at the Australian Open, with no fans to cheer for No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina as she advanced to the fourth round by beating No. 26 Yulia Putintseva, 6-4, 6-0.

Svitolina won their marathon rally early in the second set, and the majority of points after that. There was no crowd due to the start of a five-day lockdown imposed by the Victoria state government in response to a COVID-19 outbreak at a hotel.

Up to 30,000 fans daily – 50% of capacity – had been admitted on previous days.

Svitolina, a tour veteran from Ukraine who has won 66 Grand Slam matches, needs one more win to match her best showing in Melbourne. She was a semifinalist at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2019.

Top-seeded Ash Barty of Australia was to play a night match Saturday against No. 29 Ekaterina Alexandrova. Three American women were on the schedule – No. 22 Jennifer Brady and two unseeded players, Jessica Pegula and Shelby Rogers.

No. 2-seeded Rafael Nadal was to continue his quest for a men’s-record 21st major title Saturday night against Cameron Norrie. Other men in third-round action included No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 7 Andrey Rublev, No. 9 Matteo Berrettini and the last American on the men’s side, unseeded Mackenzie McDonald.

Parma Ladies Open semifinals postponed to same day as final

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PARMA, Italy — The semifinals of the Parma Ladies Open have been postponed by a day and will be played shortly before Saturday’s final.

The decision was made because of persistent rain at the clay-court tournament on Friday.

Top-seeded Maria Sakkari will start on center court against Danka Kovinic at 10:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) on Saturday before sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan’s match against Mayar Sherif.

The final will be after 6 p.m. local time, shortly after the doubles final – with the doubles semifinals also being played earlier in the day on a different court.

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).