Alcaraz beats Nakashima to reach Next Gen semifinals

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MILAN — Favorite Carlos Alcaraz of Spain booked his place in the semifinals with a 4-3 (4), 4-1, 4-3 (4) win over Brandon Nakashima of the United States at the Next Gen Finals.

Alcaraz is living up to his billing as top seed and has not dropped a set in his two Group A matches at the round-robin tournament for the top 21-and-under players on the ATP Tour.

He was taken to two tiebreaks by Nakashima but his powerful serve helped him to prevail in less than 90 minutes, with 10 aces. Alcaraz won the match when Nakashima could only return another potent serve into the net.

The 18-year-old Alcaraz has moved more than 100 places up the rankings this season to No. 32 and reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals.

Nakashima, who beat Francisco Cerundolo in their opener, will face Holger Rune of Denmark on Thursday for the other semifinal place from Group A.

Rune earlier kept his hopes alive by beating Cerundolo of Argentina 4-1, 4-2, 1-4, 4-1

Rune stormed into a 3-0 lead in the opening set and – apart from a brief lapse of concentration in the third – never looked back as he imposed his aggressive baseline game, serving out the match to love to win in just 78 minutes.

The Group B matches in the eight-man tournament were taking place later, with another American in Sebastian Korda playing Sebastian Baez of Argentina. Both won their openers on Tuesday.

Home favorite Lorenzo Musetti was playing Frenchman Hugo Gaston.

It is the fourth edition of the tournament in Milan. It was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The ATP Finals will also be in Italy, in Turin next week.

There are different rules at the Next Gen Finals, including on-court coaching, no-Ad scoring, medical timeout limits, and Hawk-Eye making all the line calls.

The most drastic change is the shorter set, where the first to four games takes the set, with a tiebreak at 3-3.

This year there are also shorter warm-ups, ensuring matches begin just one minute after the players enter the court, while bathroom breaks are timed to three minutes.

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.