Gauff beats Pliskova in Berlin for first grass semifinal

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BERLIN – Coco Gauff reached the semifinals on grass for the first time after beating Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-4 at the Berlin Open to set up a match with Ons Jabeur.

Already in uncharted territory in her first quarterfinal on grass, the 18-year-old French Open finalist had to fight back from 2-0 down at the start of each set against an opponent who was the Wimbledon runner-up last year.

Gauff said she needed some time to find her rhythm and found the answer by mixing up her shots to include more slices.

“It was really tough to be honest. I had to come up with a couple different game styles that I normally don’t use, but sometimes it’s like that,” she said.

Pliskova missed out on what would have been her first final since August. The Czech player missed the first two months of this season when she broke her arm in an accident while training in the gym.

Fourth-ranked Jabeur won against Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-2 to reach the semifinals.

In the other half of the draw, sixth-ranked Maria Sakkari is another first-time semifinalist on grass following her quickfire 6-0, 6-3 win over French Open semifinalist Daria Kasatkina.

Kasatkina dropped the first set in her previous two matches in Berlin this week before comeback wins but couldn’t find a way back against Sakkari’s power hitting.

“I’m very pleased that I had the right game plan. I went for it, I was very aggressive and I really enjoyed it,” said Sakkari, who has won three straight matches for the first time since March and her run to the Indian Wells final.

The Greek player will face Belinda Bencic in the semifinals after she beat Veronika Kudermetova 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

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.