Sunday, August 9, 2020

Unseeded Ferro upsets Kontaveit for Palermo title

   Continuing her rise in the WTA rankings, Fiona Ferro became the first post-pandemic champion today.
   The unseeded Frenchwoman beat fourth-seeded Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 6-2, 7-5 on clay to win the Palermo Ladies Open, the first WTA or ATP tournament since the tours shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
   "I think it was my best match of the week," Ferro, who lost only one set in five matches, told reporters. "I was feeling relaxed. I don't know why because it was a final. I wasn't really feeling pressure. 
   "It was a tough match because she's a really consistent player who doesn't give you too many points. I had a good intensity throughout the match. I didn't miss a lot, made a lot of winners, so I'm really happy to have the trophy with me."
   Ferro, who lost the first five games in her three-set semifinal victory over hard-hitting Camila Giorgi of Italy on Saturday, reeled off the last four games of the final. 
   Kontaveit, a first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist in the Australian Open in January, saved one championship point at 5-6 by returning Ferro's second serve with a backhand passing shot down the line. In the same situation on Ferro's second championship point, Kontaveit's backhand return sailed long. 
   "At 3-5 in the second set, I just tried to fight for every point," Ferro, a member of France's Fed Cup championship team in 2019, said during the awards ceremony.
   It was the second meeting between Ferro and Kontaveit, who won in three sets in the second round of a minor-league tournament on hardcourts in Poitiers, France, in 2016.
   Ferro, 23, will crack the top 50 for the first time on Monday, rising nine spots to No. 44. She ended 2017 at No. 325, 2018 at No. 102 and 2019 at No. 63.
   Ferro, who won Lausanne on clay in July 2019, improved to 2-0 in WTA finals.
   The 24-year-old Kontaveit, who ousted top seed Petra Martic of Croatia in straight sets in the semis, will improve two notches to No. 20, six places off her career high in April 2019. She fell to 1-5 in WTA title matches.
   Two unseeded teams met in the doubles final. Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands and Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia topped Italians Elisabetta Cocciaretto, 19, and Martina Trevisan, a 5-foot-3 (1.60-meter) left-hander, 7-5, 7-5.  
   WTA Lexington – Top-seeded Kristie Ahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, outlasted Gabriela Talaba of Romania 7-6 (4), 2-6, 7-5 in 3 hours, 3 minutes in the first round of qualifying for the inaugural Top Seed Open on hardcourts in Lexington, Ky. Ahn, ranked No. 96, saved a set point at 4-5 in the opening set.
   That match was not the longest of the day in the first WTA tournament in North America in almost one year. Fifth-seeded Francesca Di Lorenzo from Columbus, Ohio, edged 2017 Wimbledon junior singles champion Claire Liu of Thousand Oaks, Calif., in the Los Angeles area 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5) in 3 hours, 10 minutes.
   Ahn will face Jovana Jovic (born Jaksic), a 26-year-old Sacramento, Calif., resident from Serbia, for a berth in the main draw. Jovic beat 11th-seeded Mayo Hibi of Japan 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4).  
   Eighth-seeded Olga Govortsova of Belarus eliminated Katie Volynets, an 18-year-old wild card from Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
   The main draw features:
   –Top-seeded Serena Williams, who needs one more Grand Slam singles title to tie Margaret Court's record of 24.
   –Venus Williams, who has won five Wimbledon and two U.S. Open singles crowns.
   –Two-time Australian Open singles champion Victoria Azarenka.
   –Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion who grew up in Fresno, Calif.
   –Amanda Anisimova, an 18-year-old rising star from Aventura, Fla.
   –Sixteen-year-old U.S. sensation Coco Gauff.
   –CiCi Bellis, a 21-year-old Bay Area product who was named the 2017 WTA Newcomer of the Year. 
   Venus Williams, 40, and Azarenka are scheduled to meet in the first round on Tuesday or Wednesday. The winner will face either Serena Williams or American Bernarda Pera.
   WTA Prague – Elena-Gabriela Ruse of Romania nipped sixth-seeded Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (3) in 3 hours, 15 minutes on clay in the second round of qualifying for the Prague Open. 
   Sasnovich, formerly ranked No. 30, reached the Palermo quarterfinals as a qualifier this week. Ruse will play third-seeded Tamara Korpatsch of Germany on Monday for a spot in the main draw. 

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