Top seed Sharapova ousted
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova made it through to the WTA Paris Open final at the expense of her Russian compatriot and top seed Maria Sharapova on Saturday. Pavlyuchenoka, ranked 26th in the world, ended the 2012 French Open champion’s run at the Stade Coubertin 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The former junior champion meets Italian third seed Sara Errani, who got the better of French hope Alize Cornet in a three-hour marathon 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) in the other semi-final.
Makarova to face Pliskova
Fourth seed Ekaterina Makarova of Russia beat Andrea Hlavackova 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 on Saturday to reach the final of the Pattaya Open where she faces Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic for the first time. Makarova is chasing her second career title after winning in Eastbourne in 2010. She needed 1 hour, 46 minutes to eliminate Czech doubles specialist Hlavackova. “She was playing so aggressive, so flat... I really wanted to fight to make her move,” the 28th-ranked Makarova said. “The final will be similar... I need to do the same like today, making her [Pliskova] move as much as I can.” Pliskova served 13 aces to beat Julia Goerges of Germany 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in 1 hour, 35 minutes. She reached her second career WTA final after winning in Kuala Lumpur last year.
Gallacher snatches lead
Champion Stephen Gallacher amassed seven birdies and an eagle on the back nine on Saturday, tying a European Tour record, as the scintillating Scot snatched the Dubai Desert Classic third-round lead from Rory McIlroy. Gallacher, 39, blitzed his way to a nine-under 63 — the joint lowest round of this year’s event — to finish with a 16-under total of 200, two clear of world No. 6 McIlroy having started the day four shots adrift. McIlroy carded a birdie on the 17th to add some luster to another frustrating round for the twice major winner, who returned a 69 after finding only four fairways and missing a series of putts. Playing partner Brooks Koepka (70) of the US and Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen (65) shared third spot on 204.
Watson leads by two shots
Bubba Watson, seeking his first win since his 2012 Masters Triumph, fired a three-under 68 on Saturday to take sole possession of the Phoenix Open lead. Watson had shared the lead after each of the first two rounds. He finished 54 holes with a two-stroke cushion atop the leaderboard with a 15-under total of 198. Watson was two strokes in front of Kevin Stadler, who fired a third-round 67 for 200. Ryan Moore jumped into a share of third on 201 with a seven-under 64. He was joined by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama (68) and Harris English (69). Brendan Steele notched the lowest round of the tournament with a nine-under 62, moving into a tie for sixth on 202.
Golovkin retains his belt
WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin beat Osumanu Adama by a techincal knockout in the seventh round, his impressive speed and accuracy flooring his challenger three times in Monaco on Saturday. The Kazakh fighter successfully defended his belt for the 10th time to improve to 29-0, including 26 knockouts. The bout was the mismatch it appeared on paper, as Adama was ranked 12th by the WBA. “I feel terrific, I’m very happy with my performance,” Golovkin said. “From the opening round I was comfortable with the fight and felt good about my power and the pace of the fight.”