Raducanu’s U.S. Open title defense ends with loss to Cornet

2022 US Open - Day 2
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NEW YORK – Maybe Emma Raducanu was simply trying to lower others’ expectations or make things easier on herself when she scoffed at the idea that there might by any pressure on her as she returned to the site of her remarkable out-of-nowhere run to the 2021 U.S. Open championship.

Sure sounded so when she declared, shortly before the start of play at Flushing Meadows: “I think defending a title is just something that the press makes up.”

Either way, her follow-up trip to New York did not last long. Raducanu became just the third woman in the professional era to lose in the first round one year after winning the U.S. Open title, bowing out 6-3, 6-3 against Alize Cornet on Tuesday night.

“I’m sorry, guys. I know you really like Emma,” Cornet told the crowd at Louis Armstrong Stadium. “She’s a great player and a great person.”

The other defending champions – if you believe in such constructs – who went home this quickly at the American Grand Slam tournament were Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won it in 2004, and Angelique Kerber, who won it in 2016 (and lost in the first round in 2017 to Naomi Osaka, who had yet to win any of her four major trophies).

Raducanu dealt with blisters on her racket-holding right hand and took a medical timeout after the first set for treatment from a trainer.

She also was simply outplayed by Cornet, a 32-year-old from France who ended No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak at Wimbledon.

A year ago, at age 18, Raducanu arrived at Flushing Meadows ranked 150th to participate in only the second major tournament of her nascent career. She wound up making it through qualifying and winning 10 matches in a row en route to becoming the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title, defeating another unseeded teen, Leylah Fernandez, in the final.

Since then, Raducanu has gone 15-19, including second-round losses at each of the first three majors of 2022.

She was seeded 11th at the U.S. Open.

Cornet is ranked 40th and playing in her record-setting 63rd consecutive Grand Slam event. She’s only reached the quarterfinals at one of them – this year’s Australian Open.

But she also owns six victories over opponents ranked in the top 20 this season.

“I’m handling my emotions better,” said Cornet, who actually was angered when the Armstrong roof was closed during the course of play early in the second set. “I guess I’m getting old. I’m getting mature. … It’s good because I’m 32. I guess it’s better late than never.”

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.