WTA weighs changing ‘frozen’ COVID-19 rankings

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The women’s professional tennis tour is considering whether to make changes to its “frozen” ranking system adopted because of the coronavirus pandemic.

WTA CEO Steve Simon said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press the tour is “currently reviewing if any further adjustments to the rankings process will be made.”

As things stand, the WTA is allowing players to count the points from their top 16 tournament results since March 2019. That allows someone such as No. 1 Ash Barty to avoid being penalized for sitting out most of 2020 after the COVID-19 outbreak took hold.

Barty, for example, did not defend her 2019 title at the French Open in October, but still gets credit for the previous year’s championship.

The ATP announced that it is tweaking its rankings rules with an eye to restoring the regular 52-week system fully by August 2022. The men’s tour also said it will add about $5 million to prize money being offered between now and June at some smaller tournaments by increasing payouts that had been cut to 50% because of the pandemic.

As for WTA prize money, Simon said in his statement: “In addition to the over $3 million in relief we provided to players in 2020, the WTA has assisted both players and tournaments by subsidizing 100% of the onsite prize money in 2021 through the utilization of broadcast revenues, bonus pool re-allocations and central organizational funding as we feel very strongly in supporting both of our members during these challenging times.”

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).