Svitolina of Ukraine beats Potapova of Russia in WTA event

Elina Svitolina
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MEXICO CITY — Elina Svitolina put on the yellow and blue colors of Ukraine and beat Anastasia Potapova of Russia 6-2, 6-1 in the opening round of the Monterrey Open, deciding she could do more for her country by playing than boycotting the match.

Top-seeded Svitolina earlier said she wouldn’t play against Potapova in Mexico or against any Russian or Belarusian opponents until the International Tennis Federation and the men’s and women’s tennis tours barred competitors from those countries using any national symbols, flags or anthems.

The tennis governing bodies issued a statement confirming that Russian and Belarusian players will still be allowed to compete at the top level, but without national flags.

“Today it was a very special match for me,” the 27-year-old Svitolina said. “I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy that I’m playing tennis here.

“I was focused. I was on a mission for my country,” she said. “From the beginning, it was important to be ready for anything that comes my way.”

Svitolina is a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist with 16 career tour-level singles titles who has been ranked as high as No. 3 and is currently No. 15.

“All the prize money that I’m going to earn is going to be for the Ukrainian army,” said Svitolina, who won this tournament in 2020. The Monterrey Open has $31,000 in prize money for the champion.

Svitolina, who broke serve in the first and third games on the way to a lopsided win over Potapova in 64 minutes, will play against Viktoriya Tomova in the second round.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its sixth day, with a huge convoy of Russian tanks and armored vehicles on a road to the capital, Kyiv, and fighting intensifying there and in other big cities.

Russia shelled several key sites in Kyiv and in the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, killing at least 11 people and wounding dozens of others, Ukrainian officials said.

In her social media post, Svitolina said her objective in demanding tennis follow the International Olympic Committee’s lead and insist that players from Russia and Belarus are only identified as “neutral athletes” was not against individual competitors.

“I do not blame any of the Russian athletes,” Svitolina wrote. “They are not responsible for the invasion of our motherland.”

Parma Ladies Open semifinals postponed to same day as final

parma ladies open
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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 Saturday’s final.

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

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

Top-seeded Sakkari reaches semifinals at Parma Ladies Open

Maria Sakkari
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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).