Days after beating Iga Swiatek to win the Madrid Open title, world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka crashed in the first round of the Italian Open in Rome. Sabalenka lost in straight sets to world no 134 Sofia Kenin.

Roma took a slender advantage in their Europa League semi-finals after beating Bayer Leverkusen 1-0. Juventus snatched a late draw against Sevilla in the other semi-final.

In the Conference League semi-finals, West Ham United and FC Basel won their respective first legs 2-1.

Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for 12 May, 2023:

Sabalenka crashes in Rome

Women’s world number two Aryna Sabalenka’s hopes of a first Italian Open crown were crushed on Thursday.

The Australian Open champion, fresh from a clay court title in Madrid last weekend, lost 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 to US world number 134 Sofia Kenin.

Kenin’s victory was her first against a top-10 rival since shocking world number one Ashleigh Barty on her way to her surprise Australian Open title three years ago.

Sabalenka had not been defeated before the quarter-finals of any event this year and came into Rome as the match-win leader in 2023 with 29 match wins.

Novak Djokovic said that Carlos Alcaraz is the man to beat in the Italian capital, but reassured fans that he “feels good” after his recent elbow injury.

Top seed Djokovic comes into the clay-court tournament, where he has been champion six times, braced to lose top spot in the world rankings to Alcaraz.

The flamboyant Spaniard, fresh from back-to-back clay titles in Barcelona and Madrid, just needs to play a match in the Italian capital to return to the summit ahead of the French Open which starts later this month.

“He’s going to be number one after this tournament and if it happens it will be deservedly so. He plays very impressive tennis, a great level. He’s the player to beat on this surface no doubt,” said Djokovic, who starts his title defence against Argentina’s Tomas Etcheverry on Friday.

Djokovic won a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January but missed the American hard-court swing in March due to his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid.

The 35-year-old has endured a tough start to the European clay-court season, being eliminated in the last 16 at the Monte Carlo Masters, in the quarter-finals at Banja Luka and then pulling out of Madrid with his elbow problem.

However Djokovic said that he had overcome the physical problems which have blighted this part of his season.

In another shock, Taylor Townsend, ranked a lowly 168, stunned third-ranked Jessica Pegula 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 to also make the third round.

Townsend’s only previous top-10 victory came during a fourth-round run at the 2019 US Open, where she beat Simona Halep, then ranked fourth in the world. She next faces China’s Wang Xiyu.

World number five Coco Gauff eased into the third round with a 6-0, 6-1 defeat of Yulia Putintseva in just under an hour.

Former world number one Victoria Azarenka ended Sloane Stephens’ six-match winning streak 6-4, 6-3 in a tie which featured 10 breaks of serve.

Results on Thursday from the ATP/WTA Italian Open in Rome (x denotes seeding, players representing Russia and Belarus are banned from competing under the name or flag of their countries):


1st rd

Alex Molcan (SVK) bt Stefano Napolitano (ITA) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7/1)

Guido Pella (ARG) bt Maxime Cressy (USA) 6-3, 6-4

Marco Cecchinato (ITA) bt Mackenzie McDonald (USA) 6-3, 7-5

Yannick Hanfmann (GER) bt Nicolas Jarry (CHI) 6-4, 6-4

J.J. Wolf (USA) bt Hugo Grenier (FRA) 7-5, 7-5

David Goffin (BEL) bt Luca Nardi (ITA) 3-6, 6-4, 6-2

Jason Kubler (AUS) bt Marc-Andrea Huesler (SUI) 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2

Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN) bt Ugo Humbert (FRA) 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6)

Nuno Borges (POR) bt Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 6-4, 6-1

Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) bt Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 6-2, 6-1

Matteo Arnaldi (ITA) bt Diego Schwartzman (ARG) 6-1, 4-6, 6-3

Daniel Altmaier (GER) bt Giulio Zeppieri (ITA) 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-0

Thiago Monteiro (BRA) bt Adrian Mannarino (FRA) 6-1, 6-2

Roberto Carballes Baena (ESP) bt Hugo Dellien (BOL) 6-2, 6-3

Fabian Marozsan (HUN) bt Corentin Moutet (FRA) 6-0, 6-7 (8/10), 6-2

Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) bt Francesco Passaro (ITA) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4


2nd rd

Coco Gauff (USA x6) bt Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 6-0, 6-1

Marie Bouzkova (CZE x27) bt Caty McNally (USA) 6-4, 6-3

Anastasia Potapova (x23) bt Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 6-4, 6-4

Veronika Kudermetova (x11) bt Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) 7-5, 6-2

Anna Bondar (HUN) bt Karolina Pliskova (CZE x13) 7-6 (7/5), 6-2

Zheng Qinwen (CHN x22) bt Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-3, 7-6 (7/2)

Wang Xiyu (CHN) bt Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM x31) 6-4, 7-5

Taylor Townsend (USA) bt Jessica Pegula (USA x3) 6-2, 3-6, 6-3

Caroline Garcia (FRA x5) bt Ana Bogdan (ROM) 6-4, 3-6, 7-5

Camila Osorio (COL) bt Petra Martic (CRO x29) 6-4, 6-2

Magda Linette (POL x17) bt Linda Noskova (CZE) 7-6 (7/4), 6-1

Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA x12) bt Gabriela Ruse (ROM) 6-2, 6-3

Victoria Azarenka (x14) bt Sloane Stephens (USA) 6-4, 6-3

Madison Keys (USA x19) bt Magdalena Frech (POL) 6-3, 6-2

Anhelina Kalinina (UKR x30) bt Anna Blinkova 6-2, 6-2

Sofia Kenin (USA) bt Aryna Sabalenka (x2) 7-6 (7/4), 6-2

Roma win, Juventus draw in Europa League

Edoardo Bove fired Roma to a 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in a tight first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday.

Bove scored the only goal of the game in the 63rd minute at the Stadio Olimpico, allowing Jose Mourinho’s side to take a slender lead into next week’s second leg in Germany.

The win gives Mourinho the chance to reach his second European final in as many years as Roma coach after winning the Europa Conference League last season.

tonight and the boys responded with the desire to make them happy.”

Roma took the win despite having a host of players either out or barely fit to play, with stars Paulo Dybala and Georginio Wijnaldum only coming on in the final 15 minutes to help out an exhausted, largely second-string team.

Federico Gatti headed home in the 97th minute to earn Juventus a 1-1 draw against Sevilla in their Europa League semi-final first leg.

Youssef En-Nesyri gave the record six-time champions the lead in the first half and they seemed set to take that advantage back to Seville before Gatti’s late intervention.

Moroccan international En-Nesyri finished a sharp counter-attack in the 26th minute to break the deadlock in Turin.

Jose Luis Mendilibar’s side deserved their lead at the break and although Juventus improved, the Andalucians shut them out well in their bid to take their advantage back to the rowdy Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan next week.

However Gatti nodded home from point blank range after substitute Paul Pogba headed the ball back into his path from a corner.

West Ham, FC Basel win in Europa Conference League semis

West Ham moved a step closer to a first European final for 47 years as Michail Antonio sealed a 2-1 win over AZ Alkmaar in the Conference League semi-final first leg on Thursday.

While West Ham eye a landmark final appearance, FC Basel are chasing history of their own after seizing control of the other semi-final with a dramatic 2-1 victory against Fiorentina.

At the London Stadium, David Moyes’ side trailed to Tijjani Reijnders’ first-half goal before fighting back with a stirring display after the interval.

Said Benrahma equalised with a penalty before Antonio bagged the late winner to put West Ham in control of the tie ahead of the second leg in the Netherlands on May 18.

West Ham have won 12 of their 13 games in the competition this season, taking them to the brink of a first major trophy since the 1980 FA Cup.

Last season, the Hammers lost in the Europa League semi-finals against Eintracht Frankfurt, but they are in position to go further this term.

Swiss club FC Basel have even less European pedigree than West Ham, but that could be about to change after they stunned Serie A side Fiorentina.

Fiorentina took the lead in the 25th minute at the Stadio Artemio Franchi when Cristiano Biraghi’s corner was flicked on by Lucas Martinez Quarta and Arthur Cabral pounced with a perfectly placed header.

At the expense of his former club, the Brazilian forward’s seventh Europa Conference League goal this term made him the tournament’s leading scorer.

Basel are a disappointing fifth in the Swiss Super League and have never reached a European final.

But they snatched an equaliser in the 71st minute as a flowing move culminated with Andy Diouf’s clinical finish into the far corner from the edge of the area.

In the third minute of stoppage time, on-loan Inter Milan forward Darian Males teed up Zeki Amdouni for a predatory finish that leaves Basel on the verge of becoming the first Swiss club to reach a European final.

With text inputs from AFP

Updated through the day