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Martić, Kontaveit and Giorgi rally for wins in Palermo

PALERMO, Sicily (AP) — Top-seeded Petra Martić rallied past Russian qualifier Liudmila 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,” Martić said after the 2 ½-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.” Martić will next face another qualifier, Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

Also advancing was fourth-seeded Anett Kontaveit, who also 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 protocols include fewer ball kids, a limited number of fans and no post-match handshakes between opponents.

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