Erakovic claims WTA title
Marina Erakovic became the first New Zealander since 1989 to win a WTA title on Saturday, lifting her first career trophy with a truncated triumph over third-seeded German Sabine Lisicki in Memphis. Erakovic confidently raced to a 6-1 first-set victory, and the title was hers when the struggling Lisicki retired. In men’s action in this combined ATP and WTA event, fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori of Japan advanced to yesterday’s final after a short day’s work. He had won the first set against Marinko Matosevic 6-4 when the Australian retired with a bone bruise on the bottom of his right foot. Nishikori was due to take on Spain’s Feliciano Lopez for the title. Lopez beat Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. The last New Zealander to win a WTA title was Belinda Cordwell in Singapore in 1989.
Berdych cruises into final
Top-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic cruised past Russian qualifier Dmitry Tursunov 6-2, 6-1 to reach the final of the Open 13 in Marseille, France, on Saturday. Berdych will seek his first title of the season against third-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Gilles Simon 6-2, 6-2 in an all-French semi-final. Berdych led the Czech Republic to the Davis Cup title last year. “I wanted to step on the court and be strong, because you never know what could happen with him,” Berdych said of Tursunov. Tursunov is a former top-20 player who has dropped to 119th in the rankings. He was playing in his first semi-final since June 2011. In a match between former Open 13 champions, Tsonga hit 15 winners to 10 for Simon in the first set, breaking his opponent’s serve twice. Tsonga then won the last five games of the second, converting his second match point when Simon netted a forehand. “My goal is to snatch him by the throat and to not let him breathe,” Tsonga said about his game plan for yesterday’s final.
Ferrer set to defend title
David Ferrer is set defend his Copa Claro title in the final against Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland after their straight-sets wins in Buenos Aires on Saturday. Ferrer defeated fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo 6-3, 6-2 on the outdoor clay, and Wawrinka defeated Nicolas Almagro — also of Spain — 6-3, 7-5 to reach his first final. He lost his two other semi-final appearances, including last year to Almagro. Ferrer is the heavy favorite to take the title again after improving his record against Robredo to 6-2.
Les Verts stay in the race
AS Saint-Etienne kept pace with fourth-place OGC Nice in the race for a European spot by routing bottom side AS Nancy-Lorraine 3-0 in the French league on Saturday. Brazilian striker Brandao gave Saint-Etienne the lead in the 17th minute, before Gabon forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made it 2-0 in the 40th. Saint-Etienne were down to 10 men in the 64th when Fabien Lemoine was sent off for a foul on Nancy midfielder Vincent Muratori. However, Aubameyang put the result beyond doubt by notching his 14th goal in the 89th. Saint-Etienne sit in fifth place just one point behind Nice, who beat Stade de Reims 2-0 on Friday. In other play, it was: Stade Rennais 2, Sochaux-Montbeliard 2; Montpellier-Herault 1, Evian Thonon Gaillard 0; LOSC Lille Metropole 3, AC Ajaccio 1; Valenciennes 0, Toulouse 0; and ES Troyes AC 0, SC Bastia 0.