Martic, Kontaveit and Giorgi rally for wins in Palermo

PALERMO (AP) – Top-seeded Petra Martic rallied past Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the Palermo Ladies Open quarterfinals on Thursday in the first tournament following a five-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The struggle was real out there today,” Martic said after the two-and-a-half 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 realised 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 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.

New protocols include fewer ball kids, a limited number of fans and no post-match handshakes between opponents.

Craotia’s Petra Martic returns the ball to Russia’s Ludmilla Samsonova during Palermo Ladies Open tennis tournament. PHOTO: AP