Unvaccinated Novak Djokovic out of U.S. Open tune-up in Cincinnati

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CINCINNATI – Novak Djokovic pulled out of next week’s hard-court tournament in Cincinnati because he has not gotten any COVID-19 vaccine shots and so is not allowed to travel to the United States.

That is also why Djokovic is not expected to be able to enter the U.S. Open, the year’s last Grand Slam tournament, which begins in New York on Aug. 29.

Djokovic is a 35-year-old from Serbia who owns 21 major championships, one behind Rafael Nadal for the men’s record. Djokovic has said he won’t get vaccinated against the illness caused by the coronavirus, even if that prevents him from playing in certain tournaments. He missed the Australian Open in January after being deported from that country and needed to sit out two events in the United States earlier this year, along with a tournament in Montreal this week.

Unvaccinated foreign citizens can’t go to Canada or the U.S. currently; the Cincinnati tournament’s news release announcing Djokovic’s withdrawal cited “travel restrictions.”

Djokovic has said he was stil holding out hope of being able to enter the U.S. Open, but that would require a change of government policy, which the U.S. Tennis Association says it will adhere to.

Djokovic is a three-time champion at the U.S. Open and was the runner-up last year to Daniil Medvedev.

Other men who have withdrawn from the field in Cincinnati include defending champion Alexander Zverev – the 2020 U.S. Open runner-up tore ankle ligaments at the French Open in June – and injured players Gael Monfils, Reilly Opelka, Oscar Otte and Dominic Thiem. Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins pulled out of the women’s draw because of a neck injury, while three-time major champion Angelique Kerber made a scheduling change and opted not to compete in Cincinnati.

Serena Williams is entered in the field for what is expected to be one of her last appearances on tour.

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).

Sakkari through to Parma Open quarterfinals; Stephens loses

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PARMA, Italy — Top-seeded Maria Sakkari rallied past Arantxa Rus 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals of the Parma Ladies Open.

Sakkari, who accepted a late wild card to the red clay court tournament, was playing her first event since losing to Wang Xiyu in the second round of the U.S. Open.

The Greek player will next face Maryna Zanevska of Belgium after she eased past Dalma Galfi 6-1, 6-3.

Fourth-seeded Sloane Stephens of the United States, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, lost to Danka Kovinic 7-5, 2-6, 7-5.

Kovinic will face Jasmine Paolini in the quarterfinals after the Italian defeated compatriot Elisabetta Cocciaretto 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

There will be an American in the final eight, however, as Lauren Davis rallied to beat Sara Sorribes Tormo 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. Sorribes Tormo had eliminated second-seeded Martina Trevisan in straight sets in the opening round.

Davis will play Mayar Sherif after the Egyptian player defeated Simona Waltert 6-3, 7-6 (1).

Also, third-seeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania eased past Italian wild card Matilde Paoletti 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal against sixth-seeded Ana Bogdan, who beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.