Martic, Kontaveit, Giorgi rally for wins in Palermo


PALERMO, Sicily — Top-seeded Petra Martic rallied past Russian qualifier Liudmilla Samsonova 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the Palermo Ladies Open quarterfinals Thursday in the first tournament following a five-month break due to the coronavirus.

“The struggle was real out there today,” Martic said after the 2.5-hour match. “She’s not the type of player I like to play. She plays really fast, hits really flat and low. And especially on these [clay] courts it can be tricky.

“Overall I didn’t really enjoy myself out there. But I realized right away that it was not going to be easy and I was going to have to fight.”

Martic will next face another qualifier, Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Also advancing was fourth-seeded Anett Kontaveit, who had to come from behind to defeat Laura Siegemund 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Kontaveit’s quarterfinal opponent will be Italian wild-card entry Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

In yet another three-set comeback win, Italy’s Camila Giorgi eliminated Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Players and officials for the tournament are being tested every four days for COVID-19 and one player who tested positive withdrew over the weekend. New protocol includes fewer ball kids, a limited number of fans and no post-match handshakes between opponents.

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