Duckworth beats Millman for Astana Open semifinal spot

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NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan — Defending champion John Millman was upset by fellow Australian James Duckworth in the quarterfinals of the Astana Open, as Alexander Bublik also reached the semifinals.

Duckworth beat fifth-seeded Millman 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals of a tour event for the second time in his career and first since the Maharashtra Open in February 2020.

In a match between friends who train at the same site, Duckworth broke Millman in the opening game of each set. Millman saved match point at 5-3 down in the second but Duckworth closed it out in the next game.

“It is always difficult playing someone so close to you, but you have to put that aside and focus pretty hard and I was able to play a pretty good match,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth’s semifinal opponent is eighth-seeded Ilya Ivashka, who came back from a set down to beat Emil Ruusuvuori 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, helped by five double faults from Ruusuvuori in the deciding set.

“The whole match was a mental fight and I am really happy I have come through it,” Ivashka said.

Bublik is the highest-ranked player in the last four at 34th in the world and will play Kwon Soon-woo in the semifinals after beating Carlos Taberner 6-3, 6-4 in their quarterfinal.

South Korea’s Kwon beat seventh-seeded Laslo Djere 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-0 for back-to-back upset wins after he eliminated third-seeded Dusan Lajovic on Thursday.

Of the semifinalists, only Ivashka has won a tour title, at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina last month. Bublik is 0-4 in career singles finals but the biggest match of his career was in doubles, when he and Andrey Golubev were runners-up at the French Open in June. Duckworth and Kwon have never gone beyond the semifinals on tour.

Mayar Sherif becomes first Egyptian to win WTA Tour event

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PARMA, Italy — Mayar Sherif became the first Egyptian to win a WTA Tour event by beating top-seeded Maria Sakkari 7-5, 6-3 at the Parma Ladies Open.

Besides earning her first career title, Sherif also notched her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Along with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals this year, Sherif is raising the profile of tennis in North Africa.

The 74th-ranked Sherif actually had to win two matches on Saturday, first overcoming sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the semifinals, which were postponed a day due to rain.

The seventh-ranked Sakkari beat Danka Kovinic 7-5, 6-2 in her semifinal earlier Saturday.

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 the final.

The decision was made because of persistent rain at the clay-court tournament.

Top-seeded Maria Sakkari will start on center court against Danka Kovinic at 10:30 a.m. local time (0830 GMT) 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.