Errani showing signs of clay-court revival in Palermo

August 5, 2020 GMT
Belarus' Aljaksandra Sasnovich returns the ball to Italy's Jasmine Paolini during the Palermo Ladies Open tennis tournament in Palermo, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Tour-level tennis resumed after a five-month enforced break on Monday, and players at the Palermo Ladies Open had to handle their own towels and not shake hands of opponents. The strict rules because of the coronavirus included no showers on site, and no autographs or photos with fans. Players in the singles main draw come from 15 countries, all in Europe. (Palermo Ladies Open via AP)
Belarus' Aljaksandra Sasnovich returns the ball to Italy's Jasmine Paolini during the Palermo Ladies Open tennis tournament in Palermo, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Tour-level tennis resumed after a five-month enforced break on Monday, and players at the Palermo Ladies Open had to handle their own towels and not shake hands of opponents. The strict rules because of the coronavirus included no showers on site, and no autographs or photos with fans. Players in the singles main draw come from 15 countries, all in Europe. (Palermo Ladies Open via AP)
Belarus' Aljaksandra Sasnovich returns the ball to Italy's Jasmine Paolini during the Palermo Ladies Open tennis tournament in Palermo, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Tour-level tennis resumed after a five-month enforced break on Monday, and players at the Palermo Ladies Open had to handle their own towels and not shake hands of opponents. The strict rules because of the coronavirus included no showers on site, and no autographs or photos with fans. Players in the singles main draw come from 15 countries, all in Europe. (Palermo Ladies Open via AP)
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Belarus' Aljaksandra Sasnovich returns the ball to Italy's Jasmine Paolini during the Palermo Ladies Open tennis tournament in Palermo, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Tour-level tennis resumed after a five-month enforced break on Monday, and players at the Palermo Ladies Open had to handle their own towels and not shake hands of opponents. The strict rules because of the coronavirus included no showers on site, and no autographs or photos with fans. Players in the singles main draw come from 15 countries, all in Europe. (Palermo Ladies Open via AP)
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Belarus' Aljaksandra Sasnovich returns the ball to Italy's Jasmine Paolini during the Palermo Ladies Open tennis tournament in Palermo, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. Tour-level tennis resumed after a five-month enforced break on Monday, and players at the Palermo Ladies Open had to handle their own towels and not shake hands of opponents. The strict rules because of the coronavirus included no showers on site, and no autographs or photos with fans. Players in the singles main draw come from 15 countries, all in Europe. (Palermo Ladies Open via AP)

PALERMO, Sicily (AP) — 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.

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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,” Errani said. “I’m more into the matches -- not more focused, but I know more of what I need to do.”

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.

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