Maria Sakkari fought off a Coco Gauff fightback to book a place in the final of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

She will face top seed Iga Swiatek after beating the American third seed 6-4 6-7 (5) 6-2 in a lengthy, rain-interrupted battle which finished after 1am.

Gauff broke the Greek ninth seed early, but Sakkari fought back to take a first set interrupted by a short rain delay 6-4.

A lengthy break for the weather delayed the start of the second set, Sakkari settling quickest on the resumption and breaking the American twice to lead 5-2.

But she could not serve out the match, despite having a match point, as Gauff broke back and took the set on the tie break.

Gauff broke again at the start of the third set, but Sakkari dug in and rattled off four games in a row to take control again.

And this time she was able to complete the job, breaking Gauff again to complete the win after two hours, 41 minutes on court.

Swiatek’s path to the final, in which she has lost just 20 games, was more straightforward as she saw off Martya Kostyuk 6-2 6-1.

The world number one needed little more than an hour to see off the 31st seed without facing a break point.

Emma Raducanu has been named in Great Britain’s team to face France in the Billie Jean King Cup qualifying round next month.

The 21-year-old former US Open champion will compete in the event for the first time in two years.

British number one Katie Boulter, Harriet Dart and Heather Watson make up the quartet.

Captain Anne Keothavong told the LTA website: “I’m delighted to be travelling with a full-strength team off the back of some terrific results recently.

“The French side will present a significant challenge as always, but we all know how representing GB inspires us and each year we are getting stronger and better as a team.”

The qualifying round takes place in  Le Portel, France, on April 12-13, on indoor clay.

Great Britain missed out on the finals last year after losing to France in Coventry.

Manchester’s AO Arena will again host a group stage of the Davis Cup Finals in September, the International Tennis Federation has confirmed.

A record crowd for the competition in this country of 13,000 saw Leon Smith’s Great Britain team triumph in a nail-biting tie against France last year to book their place in the Final Eight event in Malaga, where they lost to Serbia in the quarter-finals.

The ITF all but announced in November that Manchester would again be a host city and that has now been rubber-stamped, with the challenge for organisers to try to boost crowds for the non-GB ties.

Britain will find out their three opponents for the group stage, which takes place from September 10-15, at the draw next Tuesday.

LTA director of major events and digital, Chris Pollard, said: “We are delighted to bring the Davis Cup Finals group stage back to Manchester again this September.

“We saw first-hand how the fans embraced the event and how their support helped our team win their group in 2023.

“We are looking forward to working with our partners at Manchester City Council and Marketing Manchester to make the Davis Cup even bigger and better this year, helping open up our sport to many more people.”

Britain were given a wild card into the group stage along with Spain, while champions Italy and runners-up Australia also avoided having to play in last month’s qualifiers.

Bologna and Valencia join Manchester as returning hosts while Zhuhai will also stage a group despite China not being among the 16 competing nations.

Simona Halep may have celebrated the reduction of an initial four-year ban but tennis must be wary of players "losing faith in the system" after her alleged doping-related punishment.

That was the thoughts of Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) representative Ahmad Nassar after supporting Halep through the appeal process after she was banned by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) for "intentional" doping offences.

The two-time grand slam champion remained staunch in her defence of innocence and eventually succeeded earlier this week as the ban that was initially set to last until 2026 was reduced to a nine-month suspension, which was backdated and allowed her straight back on the court.

"That's the shame of this – there are two impacts to this and they're at different ends of the spectrum," Nassar told Stats Perform.

"One is losing faith in the system and, the other is being pretty darn scared of the system.

"I never thought this could happen to even a former number one grand slam champion, or especially, a lower-ranked player that just gets completely rolled over.

"It really can happen to anyone. If we're making people lose faith in it, and simultaneously petrified of it – that's not a good system that is working."

Halep will return at the Hard Rock Stadium in Florida, where the action starts on March 17, as the former world number one marks a comeback tournament with her record – and reputation – reinstated.

Questions remain for Nassar, though, as repeated calls persist for improvements in the regulatory system with reform needed in his eyes.

"This is the end of Simona's nightmare chapter dealing with this, and may she never have any dealing with this again," he continued.

"But we just know that the process out there right now is a ticking time bomb. Other players are still navigating it, there are players to come who will sadly have to navigate it.

"The goal of the programme is a clean sport, and a fair score for first and foremost, the players.

"So how do we how do we strike that balance? Within the current system, there is a lot of room for improvement.

"How do we ease that burden without losing sight of the first goal, which is nobody wants to play in a clean sport more than the players themselves? They are most affected if somebody is cheating."

World number two Carlos Alcaraz raced into the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open with a straight-sets win over Fabian Marozsan in Indian Wells.

The Spaniard, bidding to become the first player to defend the title since Novak Djokovic in 2016, won 6-3 6-3 in an hour and a quarter.

Hungarian Marozsan, 24, came into the match with a rare winning head-to-head record against Alcaraz, having beaten him on the Rome clay last year in their only previous meeting, one of the shock results of the season.

The Wimbledon champion quickly went about taking his revenge, winning four games in a row from 3-2 down to take the first set.

A solitary break for 4-2 in the second proved enough to wrap up the match and book a last-eight meeting with Alexander Zverev.

“Honestly I was nervous before the match, playing against someone who beat you, let’s say easily, it was difficult for me to approach the game,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview.

“But I’m happy with the win. Today I knew better what I needed to do than in Rome.”

Zverev took down Australian Alex de Minaur after he lost the first set before coming back to win 5-7 6-2 6-3.

Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner continued his stellar start to the year, recording his 18th straight win in a victory over American Ben Shelton 7-6 (4) 6-1.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 11th seed from Greece, was on the end of an upset as he slipped to a 6-2 6-4 defeat to Czech youngster Jiri Lehecka.

World number one Iga Swiatek will take on Caroline Wozniacki in the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals at Indian Wells.

It took little more than an hour for Poland’s Swiatek to beat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva in straight sets 6-1 6-2.

Wozniacki, from Denmark, defeated three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber in 90 minutes 6-4 6-2, advancing to her first WTA 1000 quarter-final since 2019 after returning to the tour.

After her match, former world number one Wozniacki said she will have to play her “best tennis to compete” with Swiatek.

“I think I have obviously commentated some of her matches,” she said. “I know how she’s playing. Obviously she’s playing good tennis, playing powerfully.

“I practiced with her as well a few times after I have come back, during the US Open as well. I know how she plays, but it’s one thing knowing how she plays and also playing against her in a full match.”

Swiatek said on court that she has great respect for Wozniacki.

“I think she’s playing great even after the maternity break. She was fighting to come back.

“I have huge respect. I’m going to prepare like any other, but off the court she’s a great person.”

Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk defeated Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4 6-1, while Russian Anastasia Potapova defeated Italian Jasmine Paolini 7-5 0-6 6-3.

World number one Novak Djokovic has been dumped out of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells by lucky loser Luca Nardi.

Nardi, 20, booked a last-16 meeting with American Tommy Paul as he won 6-4 3-6 6-3.

Currently 123 in the world, the Italian is the lowest-ranked player to beat Djokovic at ATP Masters 1000 or Grand Slam level.

“I don’t know [how I held my nerve],” he said. “I think it is a miracle, because I am a 20-year-old guy, 100 in the world, and beating Novak. It’s crazy.”

Sealing his victory with his sixth ace, Nardi hit 16 winners in the final set against just two from the five-times Indian Wells champion.

“It’s fine. You know, it’s part of the sport,” said Djokovic. “You just have to accept it. Some you win; some you lose. Hopefully I’ll win some more and still keep going.

“I guess every trophy that eventually comes my way is going to be great, obviously to break the kind of negative cycle a little bit I’m having in the last three, four tournaments where I haven’t really been close to my best.”

Paul reached the last 16 with a 6-4 6-4 win over France’s Ugo Humbert while seventh seed Holger Rune, ninth seed Casper Ruud, Taylor Fritz and Grigor Dimitrov all moved through in straight sets.

But British number one Cameron Norrie went out after a dramatic 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) 6-3 defeat to French veteran Gael Monfils.

The British number one led by a set and 3-0 before falling victim to a stirring comeback from the 37-year-old.

Monfils clawed back to level in an extraordinary second set tie-break in which he won a point with an underarm serve before clinching the set at the end of a stunning 31-stroke rally.

Emma Raducanu went down fighting as she was beaten in straight sets by world number two Aryna Sabalenka in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

Raducanu pushed the Belarusian to the limit, battling back from a break down to level at 5-5 in the second set before ultimately falling to a 6-3 7-5 defeat.

Despite her loss, the 21-year-old Briton will take confidence from the way she consistently pressured her opponent before Sabalenka finally claimed victory on her fourth match point.

Raducanu had booked her third-round berth after winning back-to-back matches for the first time since her run to the last 16 of the same tournament last year.

Cameron Norrie also went out after a dramatic 6-7 (5) 7-6 (5) 6-3 defeat to French veteran Gael Monfils.

The British number one led by a set and 3-0 before falling victim to a stirring comeback from the 37-year-old, who revelled in the support of the majority of the crowd.

Monfils clawed back to level in an extraordinary second set tie-break in which he won a point with an underarm serve before clinching the set at the end of a stunning 31-stroke rally.

Monfils said in an on-court interview: “I’ve been working hard. Cam was playing very good tactically. He was better than me at the beginning.

“I had to change and think about it. I had to improve a couple things in my game to give him trouble and at the end I was happy that physically I could stay with him.”

Simona Halep's four-year ban being overturned comes as a "relief", though the decision to reinstate her WTA Tour position may be "bittersweet" due to time already missed on the court.

That was the message from Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) representative Ahmad Nassar, who discussed the damage that the initial decision could have on Halep's career.

The two-time grand slam champion was handed a long ban by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) for "intentional" doping offences.

Halep, who won the 2018 French Open and Wimbledon in 2019, repeatedly defended her innocence.

The 32-year-old's appeal was eventually successful earlier this week as the ban that was initially set to last until 2026 was reduced to a nine-month suspension, which was backdated, meaning Halep can return to the court immediately.

"Bittersweet is a good word," Nassar told Stats Perform after the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) ruling.

"Relief is another word I would use. It's just a relief after a year and a half. The ups and downs of waiting, and then having this initial decision with the four-year ban, and the resulting 116-page decision.

"I worked in US federal court for a year after law school and a lot of times people write decisions to try to bulletproof it on appeal. Other times, it's kind of a pro forma thing, because there's zero chance that's going to get overturned on appeal.

"So when I saw that my first reaction was this is intended to try to bulletproof, throw the proverbial book at her and her team.

"So that on appeal, exactly what ended up happening didn't happen. That's such a sign of how broken the system is, because that shouldn't really be the motivation, the motivation should be what's the right answer?

"I represent all the players, not just Simona. And we go out of our way to say, all the players deserve a clean sport, first and foremost.

"Nobody's more affected by potential doping, especially in tennis, where it's one on one or two on two, than the players. 

"It's a win in a fairly technical sense. They sought to take it from four to six years, which to me is just a jaw-dropper. If you think about that, neither side was happy with the four-year ban, which makes it all the more remarkable that CAS ruled the way they did."

Halep, the former world number one, will make her return at the Hard Rock Stadium in Florida, where action starts on March 17.

Whether she will be able to get back into her stride after a prolonged absence remains to be seen, a sticking point for Nassar.

He added: "Nobody won because you don't get to go back in time. Even if you went back to exactly the day after the nine-month suspension ended, which would have been last summer and let her resume play.

"Still, she went through nine months of assuming the worst, reading the worst, seeing the worst, hearing the worst. It's not only time but also opportunity, it's reputation.

"You take years and years and a whole career, decades to build up your name and you can lose it and your credibility and trust. You can lose it in an instant, and it's hard from that standpoint.

"That really frustrates me. This is not one of those things where you say, 'It's just professional sports, it comes with the territory', because when I look at other sports, this same dynamic does not exist.

"We don't want to call this a real win. She's a former number one, a major champion, with resources and wherewithal and ability, and later in her career, to be able to push back against this real machine that was mobilised against her.

"Most players, 99 per cent of them do not have that and so they take it on the chin, and either retire, or just take the four years and hope that they cut some terrible deal, if that's even in the offing, to settle and move on with their lives.

"That's why the players created the PTPA. It just highlights a huge gap in the system that is going to take years to fill, even on the anti-doping side. It's going to take years.

"I think there's some incremental reforms that hopefully can occur because of this situation that are better for everybody, not just the players. But it's going to be a long-term process."

Carlos Alcaraz must ignore the comparisons to fellow Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal otherwise it will "hinder his career".

That was the message from former Dutch player Richard Krajicek, who won the Wimbledon men's singles title back in 1996.

Alcaraz triumphed at Wimbledon last year as well, his second major title after winning the US Open in 2022.

Though veteran Nadal has some 22 grand slam titles to his name, two behind the ever-reliant and ruthless Novak Djokovic, comparisons continue to be drawn between the two Spaniards.

"If he starts to think about it or live up to it or try to beat it, then it will hinder his career," Krajicek said of the similarities between Nadal and Alcaraz.

"His name is Carlos Alcaraz, he said it himself and he's not the new Nadal. Nadal is a legend and he's going to do what he has to do.

"I think by winning two grand slams, being number one, I don't think he feels any pressure or like, 'I have to do this or this'. He's improved already so much.

"I don't think he has too much to prove and he's just playing for the love of the game and he's going to win many more Grand Slams and he will be number one for many weeks also."

An athletic, bustling right-hander Alcaraz has the pure power, mixed with delicate control, to trouble major-title contenders for the next decade or so.

However, Krajicek says it is Alcaraz's passion for the sport that is most impressive.

"I like everything about this game. I mean, he's physically good, he's fast, I love his mentality on the court. Also like Rafa, very humble person, and he can do it all," he added.

"He can play, he plays from the base, and he's got a big forehand, he's got a very good touch on the drop shot. He can volley. Yeah, and he really loves the game.

"When he played the US Open and it was a really important point, and they were playing for number one in the world. It was one set all, Alcaraz loses the point, but the point was unbelievable, and Alcaraz smiled to his box 'Wow, I just played a great point and I love this game'.

"So for me, then I became a fan. I'm like, 'Wow, you really love this game'. So that's so great to see."

Cameron Norrie is eyeing another deep run at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after advancing to the third round.

The British number one was the 2021 champion and came through against Lorenzo Sonego 6-3 6-4.

It was a clinical performance by Norrie, who won the important moments as he hit fewer winners than his Italian opponent and the same amount of unforced errors.

He took early control, breaking in the fourth game and, then after saving break points, he served out the first set.

Sonego took a 2-0 lead early in the second, but Norrie wrestled back control, with five successive games putting him on the brink of victory.

The Italian rallied, though, claiming one break back when Norrie was serving for the match, but the Briton got the job done at the second attempt.

“Fortunate to be through, I don’t think he played as well as he could but I’ll take it,” Norrie said on his on-court interview.

“I got sick in Rio so I have not been able to practise so much, so that’s why it was nice just to be out there playing. You take it for granted sometimes.

“It’s good memories coming here and the courts I really like, the tournament always starts again, I know I like to play well here.”

He will play either eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz or Gael Monfils in the next round.

Emma Raducanu advanced into the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells after her opponent Dayana Yastremska retired injured after just four games.

Raducanu had made a flying start and led 4-0 in the opening set when the Ukrainian 30th seed appeared to suffer an abdominal injury.

She immediately called for the physio but could not carry on, handing the Briton the win.

Raducanu may well have been victorious anyway had the match lasted the course as she looked impressive in the play that was possible.

She broke Yastremska’s serve in the opening game with a sublime drop shot and then showed grit to save a break point in her first service game.

A second break came courtesy of a strong backhand before a routine service hold put her in control.

It was in that game that Raducanu won to love that Yastremska suffered the injury and it forced a second retirement against the former US Open champion in two meetings.

Raducanu now looks set to meet second seed and Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, which will test exactly where the 21-year-old is in her comeback from an injury-ravaged 2023.

Jodie Burrage will miss the next “few months” of the season after undergoing wrist surgery.

The British number two revealed the news on Instagram, posting a picture from her hospital bed with her left arm in a sling.

Burrage suffered the injury prior to a first-round qualifying loss in San Diego a fortnight ago and took the difficult decision to go under the knife.

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“Little update: I don’t know where to start,” wrote Burrage. “My first practice in San Diego, I hit one backhand and felt something pop in my left wrist. After advice from multiple doctors and surgeons, surgery was the best option.

“Making the decision to get my 4th surgery was brutal…accepting it will take time.

“But smiling here because everything went well yesterday (and I was high on drugs), and the recovery process can start.

“It won’t be easy but I’ve got people around me who I know will help get me through it. Thank you to everyone who continues to support me and hopefully see you in a few months.”

It is rough timing for Burrage, who had been held back by repeated ankle problems before breaking into the top 100 for the first time last year.

The 24-year-old is currently ranked 86th, only one place below her career high, but will now tumble down the standings and is likely to miss the grass-court season, where last year she reached the final of the WTA Tour event in Nottingham.

Andy Murray was unable to make his opportunities count as he suffered a second-round loss to Andrey Rublev at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

Looking for just his second victory over a top-five opponent since 2016 and buoyed by an impressive performance in the opening round against David Goffin, Murray matched Russian Rublev for most of the contest.

But he was unable to take four set points in the opener and succumbed to a 7-6 (3) 6-1 loss in the Californian desert.

Rublev made unwanted headlines last week when he was defaulted from the ATP tournament in Dubai for aggressively yelling in the face of a line judge.

The Russian had denied using bad language, and had his ranking points and prize money restored on appeal, but he issued a public apology for his behaviour ahead of Friday’s contest with Murray.

Both men often struggle to contain their emotions on court but here Rublev was on his best behaviour, bar the odd shout towards his box.

There were plenty of opportunities for frustration to surface in the first set, especially when Murray, whose first serve and backhand were particularly effective, moved to 0-40 at 5-4 ahead.

But Rublev saved all three set points and then a fourth that followed before powering his way through the tie-break, helped by 29 winners in 13 games, 18 alone off his monstrous forehand.

Murray then found himself in deep trouble when he was broken from 40-0 up in the fourth game of the second set, with two double faults hurting him badly, and from there Rublev ran away with the contest.

While it is another defeat for the Scot to digest, he will at least leave Indian Wells – probably for the final time – to head to Miami feeling more positive about his tennis, with some encouraging signs for future tournaments.

Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner continued his unbeaten start to the year with a dominant victory over Thanasi Kokkinakis at Indian Wells.

The Italian followed up his Melbourne triumph by winning another title in Rotterdam and, playing his first match as world number three, he eased to a 6-3 6-0 win against Australian Kokkinakis.

Including his three singles victories in guiding Italy to Davis Cup success last November, Sinner has now won 16 matches in a row.

The 22-year-old, who could climb to second in the rankings this fortnight, said: “You always can set goal after goal and then, when you reach one goal, try to work hard for the next goal. I feel like I still have to improve many things.”

Another in-form player, Acapulco champion Alex De Minaur, raced to a 6-1 6-2 win over Taro Daniel in less than an hour.

Three-time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber claimed her biggest victory since returning to the tour in January following the birth of daughter Liana a year ago.

The German came from a set down to defeat 10th seed Jelena Ostapenko 5-7 6-3 6-3, while Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova was a 6-0 6-2 winner against Bernarda Pera and world number one Iga Swiatek saw off Danielle Collins 6-3 6-0.

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