Friday, September 18, 2020

Italian teenagers Sinner, Musetti fall in Rome

   Both Italian teenage sensations lost in men's singles today, leaving fourth-seeded Matteo Berrettini as the only homegrown player in the Italian Open quarterfinals in Rome.
   Fifteenth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria outlasted 19-year-old wild card Jannik Sinner 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, and Dominik Koepfer of Germany defeated 18-year-old Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-0 in a matchup of qualifiers.
   Sinner was coming off a victory over third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday. Musetti stunned 10th-seeded Stan Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam singles champion, and Kei Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open runner-up to Marin Cilic, in the first two rounds.
   Wawrinka underwent two operations on his left knee in August 2017, and Nishikori had right elbow surgery for the second time last October.
   Both Koepfer and Sinner played in last year's $81,240 Aptos, Calif., Challenger. Koepfer, who starred at Tulane University in New Orleans, reached the final to earn $6,360, and Sinner advanced to the second round one week after winning the Lexington, Ky., Challenger. Three weeks later, Koepfer reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open as a qualifier to pocket $280,000.
   Koepfer, a 26-year-old left-hander ranked 97th, is scheduled to face top-ranked Novak Djokovic on Saturday not before 5:30 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel). Djokovic, a four-time Italian Open champion, beat fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (7), 6-3 to improve to 28-1 this year.
   Berrettini, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year, topped countryman Stefano Travaglia, a wild card, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1) to set up a match against unseeded Casper Ruud, 21, of Norway. Ruud, the son of former top-40 pro Christian Ruud, reached the semifinals of the $100,000 Fairfield, Calif., Challenger in 2018.
   In the bottom half of the draw, Dimitrov will meet 12th-seeded Denis Shapovalov of Canada, and second-seeded Rafael Nadal will play eighth-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.
   Shapovalov, a 21-year-old left-hander, advanced to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal in the U.S. Open. Nadal seeks his third consecutive Italian Open title and 10th overall. 
   Highlighting the women's quarterfinals will be a showdown between two-time Grand Slam singles champions Garbine Muguruza, seeded ninth, and Victoria Azarenka, who's unseeded. Azarenka has won 15 of her last 16 matches, losing to Naomi Osaka in the U.S. Open final, after going 0-3 since August 2019.
   Also, top-seeded Simona Halep will face Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist. Halep, a two-time Italian Open runner-up, has won 11 straight matches and 16 of her last 17.
   Second seed and defending champion Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic will meet 11th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium, and fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine will play 12th-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.
   Osaka out of French Open — Osaka, who won her second U.S. Open singles title on Saturday, withdrew from the French Open because of a left-hamstring injury.
   Osaka pulled out of the Western & Southern Open final on Aug. 29 because of the hamstring and played in the U.S. Open with her left thigh wrapped. 
   Top-ranked Ashleigh Barty chose not to play in the U.S. Open or defend her French Open title because of coronavirus concerns. Roland Garros is scheduled for Sept. 27 to Oct. 11.

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