Osaka withdraws from Pan Pacific, Pliskova loses

Toray Pan Pacific Open - Day Two
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TOKYO – Defending champion Naomi Osaka withdrew from the Pan Pacific Open ahead of her second-round match due to illness.

“I am really sorry that I am not able to compete today,” Osaka said in a statement. “It’s an honor to be able to play at the Toray Pan Pacific Open in front of the amazing fans here in Japan. This has and always will be a special tournament for me and I wish I could have stepped on court, but my body won’t let me. I will see you next year.”

Osaka didn’t specify the illness and said before the tournament she was fit and healthy. She was champion of the previous Pan Pacific in 2019 and advanced to the second round this week after Daria Saville retired with a knee injury in their first-round match.

Fifth-seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil benefited by a walkover from Osaka’s withdrawal and has a quarterfinal against fourth-seeded Veronika Kudermetova, who dominated Mexican qualifier Fernanda Contreras Gomez 6-0, 6-1.

In other second-round matches, Petra Martic upset sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-4, and in a match of unseeded players, Liudmila Samsonova squeezed past China’s Xinyu Wang 7-6 (5), 6-3.

In Friday’s quarterfinals, Martic will play China’s Zhang Shuai, Samsonova faces third-seeded Garbine Muguruza, and America’s Claire Liu meets China’s Qinwen Zheng.

Martic kept her nerve as 2018 champion Pliskova lost hers. The former world No. 1 was not at her best, while Martic played steadily throughout, breaking twice in each set, including the final games of each set. Pliskova handed the win to her fellow tall baseliner with her fifth double fault.

“Karolina is a great player and she’s beaten me many times in the past, so I expected a tough match,” Martic said. “So I was just happy to win it.”

She won it in the nick of time as it started to rain right at the end of the second set. A third set would have been under the roof of Ariake Coliseum.

“I was hoping we would play outdoors because it’s an outdoor tournament, but at match point it started to rain really hard, so I was really happy to win that point,” Martic said.

Samsonova out-slugged Wang Xinyu as both players stayed aggressive throughout. Samsonova hit three aces to wrap up the first-set tiebreak. In the second set, her high-pressure play broke Wang in the eighth game and she rounded off the match with a 13th ace.

“She was playing amazing,” Samsonova said. “She’s a great player already but my serves were enough to maintain my game.”

Contreras Gomez had no answer for Kudermetova’s clinical efficiency as the good parts of her game that saw her defeat 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the first round deserted her. Fourth-seeded Kudermetova didn’t put a foot wrong but should face far sterner opposition from Haddad Maia in the quarterfinals.

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.