Ash Barty cruises during 1st clay event since 2019

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Top-ranked Ashleigh Barty easily won her first clay-court match in two years, cruising past Japan’s Misaki Doi 6-2, 6-1 in the WTA’s Volvo Car Open.

Barty, fresh off a championship run at the Miami Open the past two weeks, had little trouble moving from hard courts to clay. She won 10 of the last 11 games in her first match on the slower surface since winning the 2019 French Open.

“There was an adjustment period, without a doubt,” Barty said. “It was a very quick turnaround from Miami, just had a couple of hours of practice. I was, honestly, just hoping I didn’t trip and fall over trying to slide. But it came back quite naturally. So really happy to be back her, particularly in Charleston, but back on clay.”

Barty will try for the quarterfinals when she faces American Shelby Rogers. Rogers rallied from a set down to defeat 13th-seeded Amanda Anisimova of the United States 1-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Not all the high seeds made the transition as smoothly as the top-seeded Australian. Second-seeded American Sofia Kenin fell to Lauren Davis of the United States in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Kenin, ranked fourth in the world and a former Australian Open champion, was tied in the final set before several errors cost her the match. Kenin put two shots long in the final game to send Davis into the next round.

Davis said she was struggling with her serve early on before slowing down and thinking through her game.

“I found she wasn’t too much a fan of high balls,” Davis said. “So I really took advantage of that. Really happy with how I composed myself and handled the situation.”

Fifth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland lost in three sets to Spain’s Paula Badosa, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-1. And No. 7 Elise Mertens of Belgium fell to Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-3.

Among the seeded players moving on was 17-year-old American Coco Gauff, who topped Russia’s Liudmila Samsonova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

Former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens beat 2019 tournament champion Madison Keys, seeded eighth, 6-4, 6-4.

Stephens, ranked 57th, has won two matches here – the first time in her past nine tournaments she’d accomplished that.

“I think things can’t be bad forever, I think once you get that good swing going in tennis, matches come quickly and you get a little bit of confidence,” Stephens said. “Pleased with the win today, obviously, and hopefully on the upswing.”

The Volvo Car Open, which is traditionally the kickoff of the clay-court season, was called off in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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.