Barty beats Pliskova to reach semifinals at Stuttgart

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STUTTGART, Germany — Top-ranked Ash Barty moved a step closer to her first clay title since the 2019 French Open after she came back from a break down in the deciding set to beat Karolina Pliskova 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 in the Porsche Grand Prix quarterfinals.

Pliskova served for the match at 5-4 in the decider but Barty earned five break points and converted the last. The Australian then held to love and broke Pliskova again to win when the Czech sent a forehand long.

“That was an incredible match,” Barty said. “Just a really, really good battle.”

Pliskova’s late slip meant she still has not won three consecutive matches since she reached the Rome final in September. Barty is into her first clay-court semifinals this year after a quarterfinal exit in Charleston.

Barty will play Elina Svitolina in the semifinals. The fourth-seeded Ukrainian fought back and saved two match points before overcoming Petra Kvitova 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-2 in their quarterfinal.

The second-seeded Simona Halep had less trouble reaching the other semifinal. Halep defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-1, 6-4 and will next face Aryna Sabalenka.

Sabalenka defeated Anett Kontaveit 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in the last quarterfinal.

Alcaraz loses to Goffin in 1st match as No. 1

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.

The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.

“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”

Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.

“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”

Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.

Kasatkina knocks out Raducanu at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.

Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.