Angry about tennis politics, Vasek Pospisil stages tirade in Miami

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MIAMI — Angry about tennis politics, Vasek Pospisil of Canada staged a tantrum and was docked a key point during his opening-round loss at the Miami Open.

Pospisil, who has been trying to set up a new group to represent men’s professional players, was beaten by qualifier Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

During a changeover after his meltdown in the first set, Pospisil used a profanity to describe ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi, and complained about a meeting they both attended.

Pospisil told the chair umpire Gaudenzi was “screaming at me in a player meeting for trying to unite the players – for an an hour and a half. … If you want to default me, I’ll gladly sue this whole organization.”

Hours later, Pospisil tweeted an apology for his behavior during the match.

“I disrespected the game I love, and for that I am truly sorry,” he wrote. “By way of explanation, I felt deeply unnerved during a meeting between players and ATP executives last night, and I underestimated the toll those emotions took on me until I stepped onto the court. I am sorry for my on-court behavior and the language I used.”

Pospisil and No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic have been trying to set up a group to represent tennis players, who have never have had a union, unlike athletes in North American team sports.

The ATP didn’t respond to a request for comment on Pospisil’s tirade. He angrily launched a ball out of the court and smashed two rackets in the first set. Serving while facing a set point, he was penalized for verbal abuse to lose the set.

A former top-25 player, Pospisil is now ranked 67th.

In women’s play, American Sloane Stephens earned her first victory of the year by rallying past qualifier Oceane Dodin of 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-2.

Stephens, who won the tournament in 2018, had been 0-4 previously this year and hadn’t won a match since the French Open in September. Against Dodin, Stephens fell behind after she failed to convert two sets in the opening set, but she pulled away in the final set.

Stephens, ranked 49th, is among six former champions in the women’s draw.

Wild-card Ana Konjuh of Croatia won her first main-draw match in a WTA event since 2018 when she beat Katerina Siniakova 7-6 (3), 7-5. Konjuh’s career has been slowed by four elbow surgeries.

Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain overcame two match points and a 5-1 deficit in the final set to overtake Bernarda Pera 6-2, 2-6, 7-5. American Danielle Collins swept Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-3, and Jelena Ostapenko defeated Xiyu Wang 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-1.

On the first day of men’s play, Alexei Popyrin built on his recent momentum by beating Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 7-6 (4). Popyrin, a 21-year-old Australian who won his first ATP Tour title late last month in Singapore, will next play big-serving American Reilly Opelka, who is seeded 30th.

Lopez, 39, was the oldest player in the men’s draw.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France, runner-up at the recent Open 13 in Marseille, France, beat Pedro Sousa 6-1, 6-3. Herbert will next face No. 11-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada.

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).

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.