Barty moves into the Miami semifinals; Isner bows out

Michael Reaves/Getty Images
1 Comment

MIAMI — The heat and humidity this time of year in South Florida remind Ash Barty of what conditions can be like in her native Australia. She loves it.

The world’s top-ranked player didn’t wilt in the conditions Tuesday at the Miami Open, winning the final nine points to finish off No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3 in a quarterfinal matchup – her third three-set win in four matches in this tournament.

The temperature reached the mid-80s Fahrenheit (upper 20s Celsius) on Tuesday and the humidity made it feel even hotter, especially so without any shade on the court. Barty and Sabalenka got a 10-minute heat break before starting the third set, though the defending Miami champion from when the event was last held two years ago looked like she didn’t need much downtime.

Barty faced seven break points in the match and saved them all. She’ll meet either No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina or Anastasija Sevastova in the semifinals; they will play later Tuesday in their quarterfinal matchup.

Barty is now 18-3 in her last 21 three-setters, 10-1 in her last 11 quarterfinal matches and 12-3 in her last 15 meetings against fellow top-10 players.

Meanwhile, Roberto Bautista Agut didn’t take the easiest route to the Miami quarterfinals.

The No. 7 seed from Spain fought off a match point before ousting former Miami champion and No. 18 seed John Isner of the U.S. 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7) – his second three-set win in as many matches so far in the tournament.

Bautista Agut will face either top-seeded Daniil Medvedev of Russia or unseeded Frances Tiafoe of the U.S. in the quarterfinals. The Medvedev-Tiafoe match is later Tuesday.

Bautista Agut lost the first point of the third-set tiebreaker on his serve, giving the big-hitting Isner the early edge. Isner lost the mini-break by putting a forehand into the net five points later, then gave himself match point after a 138 mph ace for a 6-5 edge.

Bautista Agut wasn’t fazed, won three of the last four points and escaped.

“He makes always difficult matches playing against him,” Bautista Agut said. “He has a very big serve and a lot of power from baseline with the forehand. It makes it always difficult, no?”

It was Isner’s earliest Miami exit since 2017, when he lost in the third round. He won the tournament in 2018 and lost the final in 2019 to Roger Federer in straight sets.

Another American man bowed out when No. 32 seed Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan downed 22nd-seeded Taylor Fritz 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-4. Bublik will face No. 21 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy in the quarterfinals; Sinner advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland.

“The serve was going well today,” Bublik said.

All eight of the men’s round-of-16 matches were set to be played Tuesday. Isner and Fritz were two of the four U.S. men to reach that round.

Top-seeded Sakkari reaches semifinals at Parma Ladies Open

Maria Sakkari
Robert Prange/Getty Images
3 Comments

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

Getty Images
2 Comments

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.