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Martic and Gauff lead the charge in Parma

With Serena Williams out of the picture, 2nd seed Petra Martic is now the favourite for the Emilia-Romagna Open title in Parma, but she still has to navigate her way through the lower half of the draw to get to the final, while, in the top half, Coco Gauff is leading the charge, with Amanda Anisimova and Caroline Garcia in tow.

I’m definitely, for sure, way more comfortable on clay just because it comes with experience. So the movement is a lot better and the shot selection is a lot better. So with the more matches I think I’m going to continue to get better. Coco Gauff

Up there too is Katerina Siniakova, the vanquisher of Williams who although unseeded, presents a real threat to Garcia, the No 8 seed.

Third-seeded Gauff, whose semi-final appearance last week was the best clay-court result of her career, reached the quarter-finals with an easy win over Italy’s Camila Giorgi, 6-2 6-3, on Wednesday, taking just 71 minutes.

The American 17-year old is through to her 5th WTA quarter-final of the year, having previously made 2 semi-finals in Adelaide and Rome, and 2 quarter-finals in Dubai and Charleston.

Only two Top 10 players have reached more than her, Ash Barty with 7 and Elina Svitolina with 6, and she is tied with one other player, Aryna Sabalenka, who also has 5.

“I’m definitely, for sure, way more comfortable on clay just because it comes with experience,” Gauff said. “So the movement is a lot better and the shot selection is a lot better.

“So with the more matches I think I’m going to continue to get better.”

Gauff won 81% of her first-serve points to Giorgi’s 57% and converted 5 of the 12 break points she had on the latter’s serve.

She also saved 3 of the 4 break points she faced and Gauff finished with 64 points to Giorgi’s 46.


Coco Gauff made her 5th quarter-final of the year with a win over Camila Giorgi in Parma

© Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events/WTA

In the quarters, Gauff will play 5th seed and fellow American Amanda Anisimova, playing for the first time on the WTA Tour since contesting the US Open junior final in 2017, when the then 16-year Anisimova prevailed.

A French Open semi-finalist two years ago, 19-year-old Anisimova is working hard to rediscover her top form.

“We haven’t seen each other in a while on the court,” Gauff told reporters afterwards. “I think it will be a great match.

“She’s obviously a great player, she hits the ball big and trusts her strokes, so it will be a good test to see how I defend against that.

“But I think it’s going to be important to take my chances when I can, and continue to be on offence.”

Anisimova put together back-to-back wins for the first time this year with a 6-2 6-4 victory over qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova from the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

Her year had began badly, with news that she had tested positive for Covid-19 while she was getting ready to play in Abu Dhabi. She said she had mild symptoms and concerns about her family.

“Oh, my gosh, I was just super-shocked,” Anisimova said. “I found out in the middle of the night. It was just really upsetting, especially considering I was out of the country.

“Most importantly, I was scared that my sister [Maria] and my mom [Olga] would get it because I was close to them.

“But after the first couple of days, I realised that being in quarantine wasn’t the worst thing, because I was worried about the health of my family. Now that it’s over, I’m just so happy.”

Reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros gives Anisimova the belief that she can do it again, but she will need to get past Gauff first.

“It gave me a lot of confidence getting to the semis, knowing I can play at a top level and it’s been with me a couple of years,” Anisimova said. “I’ve been training really hard this year, and hopefully playing a lot more tennis and having more opportunities to do well again.

“I haven’t played many matches, but I can still build on it with so many tournaments coming up. I’m looking forward to it.”


Amanda Anisimova plays Coco Gauff for a place in the semi-finals on Thursday

© Marta Magni Images/MEF Tennis Events/WTA

Martic, ranked No 25 in the world, also made the final 8 after beating Russia’s lucky loser Ludmilla Samsonova, 7-6(5) 6-3, and the Croatian will face 6th-seeded Qiang Wang for a place in the semi-finals, after the Chinese eliminated Italy’s Martina Di Giuseppe, 6-4 6-4.

Another Italian, 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani, reached the quarter-finals when her opponent Sara Sorribes Tormo retired at 2-2 in the third set.

Errani, who is unseeded, advanced past the 7th seeded Spaniard, who withdrew from their 2nd round match match after sustaining an injury to her right leg, prior to which she had won the opening set, 6-4, while the Italian had claimed the second, 7-5, and she now faces former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.

In the other round-of-16 match on Wednesday, Garcia beat German qualifier Anna-Lena Friedsam, 6-2 6-4, and the Frenchwoman meets Siniakova next.

While the Czech had already reached the last-eight, it took Garcia an hour and 15 minutes to get past the German, who is ranked 48th in the world.




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