Paris Saint-Germain boss Christophe Galtier insists he has never thought about taking the captaincy away from Marquinhos, pushing back at the Brazilian's critics.

Under the former Lille and Nice boss, the Ligue 1 champions have enjoyed a bright start to the new season, aided by revived performances from Neymar and Lionel Messi in attack.

It has not always been the same story at the back, though, with Marquinhos coming in for some criticism amid suggestions the club would be better suited with another captain on the pitch.

Speaking ahead of his side's final match ahead of the international break against Lyon, Galtier said he has not considered changing captains and defended the centre-back's performances.

"The captaincy, I have never thought of taking it away from him," he stated. "He knows everything. He can talk. He is irreproachable.

"He knows when he can come to see me to share certain points of view. He is a very good relay for me. In the field, I have several relays with him - Sergio Ramos, Presnel Kimpembe, Kylian Mbappe.

"On his performances, I am surprised by your analysis. I do not share it. He must assimilate to a new system, that is all."

Marquinhos was included in Brazil's squad for their final set of fixtures ahead of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Karim Benzema will have to sit out Sunday's derby, Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti has announced.

The France international came off with a knee injury in Madrid's Champions League win at Celtic earlier this month and has not featured since.

Ancelotti previously said Benzema could be fit for the derby with Atletico Madrid this weekend, but also noted caution at the time by saying if he did not recover, he would also not be available for the upcoming international break.

With Benzema absent from Didier Deschamps' squad announcement for Les Bleus this week, it seemed unlikely he would feature at the Wanda Metropolitano, which Ancelotti confirmed at his press conference on Saturday, saying: "I'm not saying [who will play up front], Benzema won't be there.

"He has started working individually and will be ready after the [international] break."

Ancelotti also spoke about the recent controversial comments from Pedro Bravo, a senior agent in Spain, on Vinicius Junior.

Bravo appeared on television show El Chiringuito earlier this week, saying Vinicius had to stop dancing when he celebrated a goal, accusing the Brazilian of "playing the monkey".

Bravo has apologised and said he used the wrong expression, insisting he was sorry for causing offence.

"It's something that we don't touch on in the locker room, these are issues that are not normally discussed in the locker room, we usually talk about football," the Madrid boss said.

"Racism is one thing and what happens in football is another thing. We have not touched on this issue of racism because the player has responded very well."

When asked if he had spoken to the player about it, Ancelotti said: "No, because I'm not his father, nor am I his brother. I'm his coach.

"Nothing is wrong with him. He is playing with joy. Vini is joy, happiness."

Madrid have won all eight of their games in all competitions this season and will come up against an Atletico side who suffered a Champions League defeat at Bayer Leverkusen in midweek.

Ancelotti is not underestimating Madrid's local rivals, though.

"It will be a competitive match. They don't expect anything new and it will be a very competitive duel, a good football match, because there are very good players on both teams," Ancelotti said. "The match is open, but there is nothing definitive."

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone says the clash with rivals Real Madrid is "a new movie", insisting that form is irrelevant heading into Sunday's eagerly anticipated derby.

The two LaLiga giants boast contrasting fortunes as they prepare to lock horns in a blockbuster showdown at Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday.

Los Rojiblancos are aiming to bounce back from their midweek Champions League defeat to Bayer Leverkusen, while Carlo Ancelotti's Los Blancos have won each of their eight matches across all competitions this season.

But Simeone, who confirmed goalkeeper Jan Oblak will be fit to start after recovering from a knock, insists that kick-off will represent a fresh start for both teams.

"I always think that in the big games and in the derbies, it's important how you get there," he told reporters at Saturday's press conference. "I would have liked to come with a win and always looking from the positive side.

"But the moment the game starts, it's a new story. Everything is very good until the referee starts; it's a new movie that we don't know the end of, that's why this game is so fun."

Simeone also praised the Spanish and European champions, noting their "habit" of winning.

"The rival has an extraordinary team with young players who are making the transition from those who performed at a high level in these years," he added.

"It's a great team that has a habit of always being close to winning. We have to take the game to where we are most interested."

Aston Villa received a pre-match message from Prince William before their much-needed 1-0 win over Southampton in the Premier League.

Jacob Ramsey's first-half strike was enough to give Villa the home victory on Friday, and manager Steven Gerrard said his players had received a royal message.

Former Liverpool midfielder Gerrard revealed the Prince, who is a fan of the Midlands clubs, had said he would have liked to have been present at Villa Park, but was understandably busy following the recent passing of his grandmother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Speaking at his post-match press conference, Gerrard said: "He messaged in the week, to the club, and that shows everything about what he thinks of this club. For us to reward that with a result and clean sheet, I'm sure he will be proud.

"It was along the lines of 'would love to be there'. He is consistently in touch. He is very supportive of the boys individually, he loves them. It's really impressive, his knowledge, and how much he is in to it.

"It certainly took me back. He is very much involved in Villa. For him to message in the situation he is in is really impressive."

The win in the largely forgettable contest was just Villa's second of the season, moving them up to 13th in the Premier League table.

"Where we were before the game, in terms of our league position, it was about the result," Gerrard added. "It wasn't pretty or stylish, but was all about resilience, guts, character and owning the pitch."

Despite an offseason of considerable change, the New Orleans Saints went into this season with plenty of supporters backing them for a return to prominence in the NFC.

The Saints saw head coach Sean Payton step away from the game and replaced by defensive coordinator Dennis Allen while they also lost key pieces on defense and on the offensive line.

Yet New Orleans had some tipping them not only to win the NFC South, but to go into the playoffs as the number one seed in the conference.

Such predictions did not raise eyebrows because of the quality of the Saints' roster – it remains one of the better all-round groups in the NFC – but because of the number of unknowns surrounding the Saints.

It is a mystery whether Allen will have what it takes to be a successful head coach and whether quarterback Jameis Winston, who saw a promising seven-game stretch ended by injury last year, can finally be a success at the highest level after years of failing to live up to his status as the top pick in the 2015 draft.

The Saints' 27-26 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 was far from convincing, but it seemingly removed one key unknown from the equation as Michael Thomas enjoyed a superb return from injury.

One game, one in which the Saints needed a huge fourth-quarter comeback to avoid an upset, is not enough to definitively answer questions about coach or quarterback, though.

A much larger sample size will be needed to make an assessment of Allen, but Winston faces a litmus test of his credentials as the answer for the Saints when he goes against the team that drafted him, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in Week 2.

The Saints have won their last seven regular-season games against the Buccaneers, matching the longest winning streak by either team in this rivalry.

Winston was injured in a home win over the Bucs last year, and his ability to continue that run could provide a significant indication whether he is the man to help the Saints wrest the NFC South from Tom Brady's Buccaneers and put New Orleans on the path to one of the top seeds in the conference.

Accurate and aggressive

Winston displayed why the Saints were willing to keep the faith in him in the comeback against Atlanta, illustrating his upside as a downfield passer with six completions of 20 yards or more, which as of Friday were the fourth-most in the NFL.

He also displayed impressive accuracy, delivering a well-thrown, accurate ball on 87.1 per cent of his pass attempts, according to Stats Perform data.

The former Florida State star also averaged 9.65 air yards per attempt, with Ryan Tannehill (90.3 per cent and 9.42 air yards) the sole quarterback to average at least nine air yards and record a superior well-thrown rate than Winston.

Winston having success pushing the ball deep is nothing new. His 154 passing plays of 25 yards or more since he entered the league are the 13th-most in the league in that span. Last season, he averaged 9.14 air yards per attempt.

Yet his performance in Week 1 represented a stark improvement in terms of accuracy over what he produced in 2021. Indeed, Winston's well-thrown rate of 75.7 per cent last season was below the league average of 77.9.

Winston also excelled in delivering the ball accurately under duress, with six of his seven pass attempts when pressured considered to be well-thrown.

Whether he maintains that level of play in the face of the Tampa Bay pass rush will reveal a lot about his chances of steering the Saints to a division title.

Holding on too long?

Winston was sacked four times against the Falcons. While on the surface that may appear an indictment of the Saints' offensive line, the reality is that, for the most part, New Orleans did a very impressive job in pass protection.

The Saints ended Week 1 ranked fourth in Stats Perform's pass protection win rate. Two of their sacks were a result of individual brilliance from Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, while one was an effort sack from rookie Arnold Ebiketie and another came on a delayed blitz from the second level by Mykal Walker.

The theme across those plays where the Saints quarterback was brought down in the backfield was clear – Winston holding the ball for over three seconds.

On his seven attempts that came under pressure, Winston held the ball from snap to release for an average of 3.15 seconds.

Against a Tampa Bay defense that registered the seventh-most sacks for negative yardage (45) in the NFL last season and had no shortage of success against Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, Winston is unlikely to get away with hanging onto the ball for so long. 

Winston's length of time holding the ball is in part connected to his aggressiveness in targeting receivers on deep routes, and he and the Saints will need the offensive line, which lost the services of three-time Pro Bowler Terron Armstead in the offseason, to hold up to facilitate those downfield shots in Week 2.

However, if it does not, Winston will need to efficiently read the field and get the ball out quickly to prevent the Saints' offense from being sunk by a fearsome Tampa Bay defense. Fail to do so, and it may be difficult to take New Orleans seriously as legitimate contenders. Thankfully for Winston, he has weapons who can offer him the safety nets he needs to frustrate opposing pass rushes with the quick game.

Winning weaponry

Having played only seven games across the last two seasons, there were substantial doubts over Thomas' ability to return and perform at the level that saw him set the NFL record for receptions in a season (194) in 2019.

Thomas emphatically answered his doubters with a two-touchdown display, his second score coming on a stunning back shoulder catch that cut the Falcons' lead to two points late in the fourth quarter.

Among wide receivers with at least five targets in Week 1, Thomas was fourth with a big-play rate of 52.9 per cent.

Between Thomas, Jarvis Landry – who went for 114 yards on his Saints debut – and rookie Chris Olave, the first-round pick who caught three passes for 41 yards, the Saints have three receivers who can all create the separation to give Winston easy answers against pressure.

Running back Alvin Kamara had little influence as a pass-catcher in Week 1, but a receiving big-play rate of 21.3 per cent that was fifth among running backs (min. 100 carries) in 2021 is indicative of just how dangerous he can be when he is a featured part of the passing game.

There is no doubt Winston has the offensive talent around him to succeed and he proved what he can do when he harnesses that talent in Week 1, becoming the first Saints player to throw for 200 or more passing yards in the fourth-quarter since 2008 as they won a game after trailing by at least 16 points in the final period for the first time.

He also has the support of defense that last year recorded one of only three shutouts of a Brady team in his 317 regular-season and 47 postseason starts.

Sitting 11th in Efficiency Versus Expected (EVE), which measures yardage gained in expected passing situations against the predicted yardage in those same scenarios, Winston made an encouraging start to what he hopes will be his first full season as the Saints' starter.

But the fact he was required to produce a late comeback against one of the NFL's least-talented teams speaks to an inconsistent offensive performance.

Volatility defined Winston's career in Tampa, but New Orleans will be substantially easier to trust as contenders if he can maintain his level while facing the quarterback who embodies consistency more than any other and help the Saints continue their hoodoo over the Bucs.

Who doesn't love seeing an exciting youth product coming through to the first team?

In Spain, they seem to produce them en masse, with technically proficient youngsters emerging regularly.

The most famous production line is surely La Masia, with Barcelona cultivating the likes of Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi and, more recently, Gavi.

It understandably therefore gets overlooked just how many players come through the academy of Real Madrid, their fierce rivals.

La Fabrica – 'The Factory' – has produced some fine players down the years, including Emilio Butragueno, Raul and Iker Casillas.

Perhaps one of the reasons Madrid do not get the same credit as Barca for bringing through youngsters is because, quite often, their best graduates go on to spend their careers at other clubs.

And when Los Blancos make the short trip across the Spanish capital to face Atletico Madrid on Sunday, they will come up against some familiar faces.

Atleti head coach Diego Simeone has at his disposal five players who came through the youth system at Madrid.

Saul Niguez, Marcos Llorente, Mario Hermoso, Sergio Reguilon and Alvaro Morata were all La Fabrica players, although Saul actually moved to Atletico before making the step up to senior football.

In the Madrid squad, meanwhile, only four academy graduates players have made an appearance for Carlo Ancelotti's first team in Dani Carvajal, Nacho, Lucas Vazquez and Mariano Diaz.

This could be seen as a problem, but every player has to come through an academy somewhere, and even if Madrid do not always get the benefits of the talent they prepare, these youngers are often sold on for good money, allowing the club to spend big – a reputation that is far more widely acknowledged.

Madrid are not quite as flamboyant in the transfer market as in the peak years of the 'Galactico' era, but they still invest heavily in players ready to pull on the famous white shirt.

Rather than turn to their Castilla team in recent seasons, Madrid have splashed out on players of a similar age in young French midfield pair Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni, yet La Fabrica has played a key role in raising the funds to make those signings.

 

In 2020, for example, Madrid sold Achraf Hakimi, Reguilon, Oscar Rodriguez, Miguel Baeza, Javi Sanchez and Dani Gomez for combined fees in excess of €90million.

In the transfer window just gone, they moved on Borja Mayoral, Mario Gila, Miguel Gutierrez and Victor Chust for more than €20m.

In the case of Hakimi, he has gone on to thrive, having a tremendous year at Inter before making an even bigger move to Paris Saint-Germain, where he is now considered one of the best full-backs in the game.

Reguilon did not enjoy quite the same success at Tottenham, finding himself out of favour under Antonio Conte before being loaned to Atletico.

One might wonder if Hakimi could have instead been given a chance at the Santiago Bernabeu. He would have competed with or surpassed Carvajal by now.

Reguilon, while less of a sure thing, departed only after Madrid had spent around €50m on Ferland Mendy, leaving no clear path to succeed Marcelo at left-back.

Perhaps it is Madrid's loss, but these two players brought in significant fees, and their willingness to allow potential first-team stars to move on in search of regular football is almost admirable. Other clubs could be accused of hoarding players, allowing them only to leave on loan year after year while still never giving them a chance to make their mark at their parent clubs.

Of Madrid's current crop, Bruno Iglesias, Sergio Arribas, Peter Federico and the wonderfully named centre-back Marvel – write the superhero pun headlines now – appear the ones to watch.

Whether they ever turn out for the first team, or they end up moving on to career paths elsewhere, their education at La Fabrica should at least set them up for success wherever they land.

Who knows? They may even be likelier to be wearing a red and white shirt than a solid white one if they ever make an appearance in a Madrid derby.

The injury-riddled New York Yankees got one of their key pieces back Friday as they activated reliever Aroldis Chapman after missing nearly a month with a leg infection he sustained from a tattoo.

Chapman hasn’t pitched for the Yankees since August 19, but made one-inning appearances for Double-A Somerset on Monday and Wednesday.

''I thought he looked really good in his rehab outing the other day,'' manager Aaron Boone said. ''He's got to earn certain spots in there and try to get it in there. Hopefully he can be successful and throw the ball like he's capable of, because physically it's there.''

Chapman, a seven-time All-Star, is 3-2 with a 4.70 ERA and nine saves in 36 appearances this season. The flame-throwing left-hander lost his role as New York’s closer earlier this season after he missed nearly six weeks with tendinitis in his left Achilles.

The Yankees lost their opening game of a three-game series at Milwaukee on Friday, trimming their lead over the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East to five-and-a-half games. Eight pitchers were used by the Yankees, and Chapman was not one of them.

Albert Pujols was the star of the show on Friday night as he moved one step closer to becoming the fourth player to ever hit 700 home runs, connecting on number 698 in the St Louis Cardinals' 6-5 win against the Cincinnati Reds.

An RBI ground ball from Jonathan India, a two-run double from Jake Fraley and an RBI single from Aristides Aquino gave the Reds a 4-1 lead heading into the sixth inning, where sparks would fly.

The stars delivered for the Cardinals to rally back from the deficit, with NL MVP favourite Paul Goldschmidt leading off the inning with a double, before fellow NL MVP candidate Nolan Arenado drove him home with a single, bringing Pujols to the plate.

On the very first pitch, Pujols crushed a no-doubt home run sailing well over the left-field wall to tie things up, with his 427-foot shot travelling further than any ball he hit at this year's Home Run Derby, and leaving him with two required to reach 700. Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) have hit more.

Kyle Farmer put the Reds back ahead with his own solo home run in the seventh inning, but later in that inning Goldschmidt and Arenado would combine again, with back-to-back doubles scoring a pair of runs to take a 6-5 lead.

Cardinals closer Ryan Helsley came in to finish the job, and he did it in style, striking out all three batters from only nine pitches for a rare immaculate inning. It was only the third immaculate inning in Cardinals history.

Alvarez hits 1329 feet worth of home runs

Yordan Alvarez was in rare form for the Houston Astros in their 5-0 shut-out win against the Oakland Athletics, hitting home runs in each of his first three at-bats to deliver a win in Justin Verlander's return from injury.

The AL Cy Young Award favourite made his way back from the 15-day injured list to throw five hitless innings, striking out nine batters and only allowing one walk.

Helping him out with the bat, Alvarez hit a 434-foot home run in the first inning, followed by a 431-foot shot in the third inning, and from the first pitch of his third at-bat he did it again, blasting the longest ball of the night with a 464-foot nuke to center-field.

With his three homers, Alvarez is now tied for the third most in the majors with 36, although he remains 21 behind league-leader Aaron Judge (57).

Yankees blow a five-run lead

The New York Yankees led 5-0 in the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers before going down 7-6 on a walk-off hit from Garrett Mitchell.

After the Yankees jumped out to their big early lead, Willy Adames pegged back four of the runs by himself, with a three-run homer in the second inning and an RBI double in the fourth.

A fielding error in the eighth inning allowed the Brewers to take a 6-5 lead, before Josh Donaldson collected his third RBI of the game with a solo home run to tie things in the last frame.

But Yankees closer Clay Holmes could not force extra innings, giving up two hits and two walks, capped off by Mitchell's game-winning single.

Max Homa and Danny Willett are in a strong position to kick off the new PGA Tour season in style, tied for the lead at 12 under after two rounds of the Fortinet Championship.

Entering Friday's play, Homa was alone in second place two strokes behind leader Justin Lower, but when Lower shot a one-under 71, Homa capitalised and leapfrogged him with a five-under 67.

Starting on the back-nine, Homa was four under through his first six holes after an eagle on the par-five 16th, cooling off to post two birdies and one bogey from his next 12 holes.

Meanwhile, Willett was comfortably the best performer on the day, with his eight-under 72 coming in three shots better than anybody else in the second round. He went bogey-free with eight birdies.

Lower only slid down to a tie for third place at 10 under, where he is joined by An Byeong-hun.

There is a three-way tie for fifth at eight under consisting of Sahith Theegala, Matt Kuchar and Taylor Moore – with the latter two shooting back-to-back 68s.

Rounding out the top-10 is the American trio of Robby Shelton, Ben Martin and Brian Stuard at seven under.

After a strong start, Rickie Fowler could only post an even-par second round to remain at five under, while major champion Hideki Matsuyama finished two strokes inside the cut-line to qualify for the weekend, and Australian duo Jason Day and Cam Davis were not so lucky.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has come to the defence of record signing Jack Grealish, saying he is not being judged on how many goals and assists he creates during his time on the pitch.

Grealish, 27, arrived at the club last year in a £100million move that made him the most expensive British player in history, but has only been able to contribute six goals and four assists in a City shirt.

He has started one Premier League game this season, and both Champions League fixtures so far, although he has been substituted off in both continental games, including in this past week's 2-1 win against Borussia Dortmund.

Guardiola made an effort to shift the blame away from Grealish when his performance against Dortmund was questioned, pointing the finger at his supporting cast not making his life easier.

"He started really well, but had to stop for a problem in the ankle and we were lucky it was not worse," he said.

"Last game in the final third he was the only one up front who makes aggressive runs one against one, but [he couldn't] make assists [because] he didn’t have his mates in the box, so we left him isolated. When he goes against the full-back, only Erling [Haaland] was there.

"[Ilkay] Gundo[gan] was not there, Kevin [De Bruyne] was not there and they should be there. In the first half especially with the ball we didn’t make any movements to help the players who had the ball, and give him more possibilities to make it easier."

Guardiola added: "I know him and I’m more than happy and delighted with what he’s doing. Now… it's time to get back a little bit of his momentum that he had at the beginning of the season."

The manager with multiple Champions League titles was adamant that just goals and assists was not enough to judge a player like Grealish on, and shared what he is looking for out of the midfielder.

"We didn’t sign for the incredible goals or assists at Aston Villa," he said. "It was another reason, and when he played he did it.

"He competes with top, top players as well and he knows it perfectly, but never complains about that.

"He’s such a nice guy and in the games when he didn’t play, he’s the first to help the team and in the training sessions he’s always there. I’m delighted with his behaviour and everything.

"I want to make goals and I want to make assists and he does too, but it’s not about that. It’s about his contribution without the ball and what he can produce for the other ones and the many, many things that he’s able to do."

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert has been diagnosed with a rib cartilage fracture after getting injured in the fourth quarter of his team’s loss at Kansas City on Thursday night.

Chargers coach Brandon Staley said Herbert is day-to-day and is optimistic about playing in Los Angeles' Week 3 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 25.

"I think we got good news in terms of what the CT scan expressed," Staley said. "I think playing quarterback, you don’t want it to be the bones. The fact that it’s cartilage is a good sign.

"It’s just going to come down to comfort. We’re just gonna have to make sure that he’s comfortable. We’re not going to know more about how he feels until later on in the week."

Herbert was injured on a hit from Chiefs defensive end Mike Danna with about five minutes remaining in the Chargers’ 27-24 loss. The 2020 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year left the field for one play before returning, and threw his third touchdown pass of the night on Los Angeles’ ensuing and final drive to lead a rally attempt that fell just short.

The third-year pro finished with 334 passing yards while completing 33 of 48 attempts with one interception, which Kansas City’s Jaylen Watson returned 99 yards for a pivotal touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter.

"You’re not going to see a quarterback at any level of football play tougher and do more for their team and will their team to give them a chance more than him," Staley said after the game. "He showed a lot of guts.

"He showed us what he shows every day, that we’re never out of the fight, and he brought us back and gave us a chance."

Veteran Chase Daniel would start against the Jaguars should Herbert require more time to heal. The well-traveled 35-year-old has made five career starts in 13 NFL seasons, most recently with the Chicago Bears in 2019.

Dustin Johnson leads the field by three strokes after the first round at LIV Golf Chicago, shooting a nine-under 63 in his first trip around Rich Harvest Farms.

The two-time major winner was nearly flawless as he put a decent gap between himself and second-placed Cameron Smith, going bogey free with nine birdies and nine pars as he consistently left himself with short putts.

Johnson's best run came from the sixth hole through to the 12th, where he collected six birdies over the space of seven holes.

Speaking after stepping off the last green, Johnson said he is in "a nice groove".

"My swing was really solid all day, hit it really close," he said. "I didn't have many long putts, but I holed a lot within 10 feet, and I struck it really well all day.

"Right now I feel like I've got my swing in a nice groove, so for me as long as I hit a couple balls every other day I can keep it there."

Alone in second is Smith with a bogey free six under, and one stroke away in sole possession of third is Matthew Wolff at five under.

Johnson has single-handedly pulled his team 4 Aces GC to the top of the leaderboard at 12 under – with team-mates Pat Perez at four over and Patrick Reed at two over – while Smith's Punch GC are in second place, with Matt Jones also pulling his weight to finish tied for fourth at four under.

Two Majesticks GC players are with Jones at four under – Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood – to leave them in third in the team standings.

Bryson DeChambeau and the Stinger GC pairing of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel round out the top 10 at three under.

It is one of the strongest starts to a LIV tournament for Phil Mickelson, who is tied for 11th at two under along with Brooks Koepka, Harold Varner III and seven others.

Qualifier Anna-Lena Friedsam backed up her victory over Emma Raducanu with a 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 quarter-final win over Diane Parry at the Slovenian Open.

After seeing off 2021 US Open champion Raducanu on Thursday, Friedsam continued her run with a superb comeback win to book her place in the semi-finals.

A rough start looked to have primed Friedsam for the exit door, but after prevailing in the second set, the 28-year-old pushed on to take herself within a match of a third career WTA Tour-level final.

She will have to wait to discover whether she will face defending champion Jasmine Paolini however, with the Italian's own quarter-final in Portoroz against Katerina Siniakova delayed until Saturday.

Third seed Elena Rybakina, meanwhile, will face Romania's Ana Bogdan after the Wimbledon champion was handed a walkover following Lesia Tsurenko's withdrawal.

Bogdan reached her second tour-level semi-final of the season by upsetting second seed Beatriz Haddad Maia, recording her 20th win over a top-20 opponent in the process, albeit her first since the 2018 Australian Open.

At the Chennai Open, 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova stunned Varvara Gracheva 6-4 6-3 to reach her first Tour-level semi-final.

Briton Katie Swan continued her impressive run with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 win over qualifier Nao Hibino and she will face Poland's Magda Linette, the highest-ranked player left in the competition, in the last four.

Fruhvirtova will go up against Nadia Podoroska, who came from a set down to defeat Eugenie Bouchard.

 

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