Sorana Cirstea wins to open title defense in Istanbul

Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun/USA TODAY NETWORK

ISTANBUL — Defending champion Sorana Cirstea won her opening match at the Istanbul Championship, beating Kamilla Rakhimova of Russia 6-4, 6-1.

The 32-year-old Romanian ended a 13-year wait for her second career singles title last year when she upset Elise Mertens in the final. The second-seeded Cirstea next faces Dutch player Arantxa Rus at the the clay-court competition.

Third-seeded Veronika Kudermetova of Russia also advanced to the second round with a 6-2, 6-0 win over compatriot Marina Melnikova.

Mertens is again the top seed in Istanbul and plays a first-round match against Rebecca Peterson of Sweden on Wednesday, when fourth-seeded Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine faces Petra Martic in the first round.

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).