PALERMO (SICILY): Former French Open finalist Sara Errani showed signs of reviving her clay-court prowess by rallying past Kristýna Plíšková 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 Wednesday to reach the Palermo Ladies Open quarterfinals.
It was the second consecutive three-set win for Errani, who received a wild-card entry for the first tour-level tournament -- for men or women -- following a five-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic. Errani will next face rising French player Fiona Ferro, who beat eighth-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-5, 6-2.
Also, qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich eased past Jasmine Paolini 6-0, 6-2 for her fifth win in five days; and 19-year-old Italian wild-card entry Elisabetta Cocciaretto eliminated sixth-seeded Donna Vekić 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.
Errani, who lost the 2012 French Open final to Maria Sharapova, had struggled to regain her form after serving a two-month ban in 2017 due to an anti-doping violation. Her ranking is down from a career-high of No. 5 in 2013 to No. 169. "I’m a bit calmer now and I’m able to impose my game better. I’m more into the matches -- not more focused, but I know more of what I need to do," Errani said.
Palermo brings back good memories for Errani, who won the Sicilian tournament twice and also finished runner-up twice -- to go with three titles in the doubles event. It was Errani's 180th career win on clay - more than any other active player.