Ukrainian Snigur stuns No. 7 Halep at U.S. Open for 1st win

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NEW YORK — Daria Snigur raised her arms in celebration, then lowered them to wrap her hands around the blue-and-yellow ribbon on her chest.

This win – her first on the WTA Tour – was for Ukraine.

Snigur pulled off the first big upset of the U.S. Open, knocking off No. 7 seed Simona Halep 6-2, 0-6, 6-4.

Days after taking part in an exhibition to raise money for her country that is fighting a war against invading Russia, Snigur fought through tears as she tried to explain what the victory meant to her family and her home.

“No comment, I think, because it’s impossible for me now,” Snigur said.

The 20-year-old was making her first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam after emerging through the qualifying rounds last week.

On Wednesday, she joined tennis superstars such as Rafael Nadal, Coco Gauff, John McEnroe, Iga Swiatek and 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez in the “Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition,” an event organized by the U.S. Tennis Association that raised $1.2 million.

It took place in Louis Armstrong Stadium, which may have calmed Snigur’s nerves when she was sent back out there Monday.

“I think it helped me because I was here in `Tennis Plays for Peace’ and I think it helped me a little bit,” Snigur said during an on-court interview.

Snigur won the Wimbledon girls singles title in 2019, but failed in her first eight attempts to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam before finally breaking through. She was 0-2 on tour and was facing a top-20 opponent for the first time.

And in Halep, it was one of the hottest players in women’s tennis. The two-time Grand Slam champion had won 19 of her previous 22 matches and recently returned to the top 10.

But Snigur responded nicely after Halep won the second set, racing to a 5-1 lead in the third. Halep fought off a couple match points while taking the next three games before Snigur finally closed it out when Halep sailed a backhand long.

Snigur then dropped her racket and covered her face as she fought back tears.

Elina Svitolina’s run to the 2019 semifinals is the best performance by a Ukrainian in the U.S. Open. One of five of them in this year’s draw, Snigur will face Canadian Rebecca Marino on Wednesday.

First, she was going to savor a stunner.

“I want to say thanks to all the fans who watched our match today,” she said.

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.