Citing bad back, Rafael Nadal out of Rotterdam tournament

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Rafael Nadal pulled out of next week’s hard-court tournament at Rotterdam, Netherlands, because of the bad back that bothered him during the Australian Open.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion wrote in a series of posts on Twitter that he “found a temporary solution that allowed me to play without pain in the second week” of the Australian Open, where he lost in the quarterfinals to Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets.

But, one of Nadal’s tweets said, “Once I got back to Spain I visited my doctor and together with my team they’ve advised not to play this upcoming week. I was really looking forward to coming back to Rotterdam and The Netherlands since it’s been a while (since) I played there.”

The second-ranked Nadal would have been seeded No. 1 in Rotterdam. Instead, third-ranked Daniil Medvedev, the runner-up to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, will take the top spot in the seedings.

If Medvedev reaches the final in Rotterdam, he would replace Nadal at No. 2 in the rankings, according to the ATP Tour. That would allow Medvedev to become the first man other than Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer or Andy Murray to be in the ATP’s Top 2 since Lleyton Hewitt was second to Federer in July 2005.

Nadal cited the back issue when he sat out the ATP Cup team competition at Melbourne Park that preceded the Australian Open.

The 34-year-old Spaniard then was able to participate in the year’s first Grand Slam tournament, which began Feb. 8.

He entered the Australian Open with a chance to break his tie with Federer for the most major singles championships won by a man.

During that event, though, Nadal said his back prevented him from practicing properly for about three weeks and that he frequently needed to skip training sessions on the days he did not have matches.

After winning his first four outings, all in straight sets – and calling his opening set against Fabio Fognini in the fourth round “without a doubt” his “best level in the tournament” – Nadal took a two-set lead against Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals last week.

Nadal had been 223-1 in Grand Slam matches when leading two sets to none, but he faltered in the third-set tiebreaker with some uncharacteristically poor play and wound up losing to Tsitsipas 3-6, 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-5.

Nadal was among the men on the entry list released Thursday for the Miami Open, which runs March 22 to April 4. Federer, who has been sidelined for more than a year after two knee operations, and Djokovic are also in the field for Miami.

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.

Sorribes Tormo beats 2nd-seeded Trevisan at Parma Open

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PARMA, Italy — Sara Sorribes Tormo beat second-seeded Martina Trevisan 7-5, 6-0 in the opening round of the Parma Ladies Open – marking the third consecutive first-round loss for this year’s French Open semifinalist.

Third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu advanced when Viktoriya Tomova retired with Begu leading 7-5, 5-1.

Danka Kovinic beat Oceane Dodin 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 and will next face 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.

Also on the red clay courts, Mayar Sherif of Egypt eliminated fifth-seeded Anna Bondar 7-5, 6-4; Elisabetta Cocciaretto defeated seventh-seeded Nuria Parrizas Diaz 7-5, 6-1; and Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti earned her first tour-level win by beating Romanian qualifier Gabriela Lee 6-4, 3-6, 6-0.