Federer laments blown chances in US Open final loss

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NEW YORK — Roger Federer wonders what might’ve been if only he’d converted any of those three break points in the last game of the U.S. Open final.

The crowd roaring, Federer rolling, Novak Djokovic reeling – maybe he could have come all the way back from down two breaks in the fourth set to win in five.

But the Swiss great knows one thing for certain.

“I should have never been down in the first place two sets to one and 5-2,” Federer lamented late Sunday night, still stuck on 17 major titles for at least 4 1/2 more months.

He fell so far behind because his opponent was simply better in the biggest moments. The top-ranked Djokovic was 6 for 13 on break points; Federer was 4 of 23.

“Surely I am very disappointed,” Federer said. “I had my chances on my racket.”

Djokovic won 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 in a match that followed a similar script to their Wimbledon final – Federer wins the second set but falls in four.

His serve was shaky in the early going Sunday. Federer’s coach, six-time Grand Slam champ Stefan Edberg, said the conditions contributed to that. After a rain delay of more than three hours, the air was cooler and the court slower.

“That’s the way it goes,” Edberg said.

In the fourth set, Federer got one break back the first time Djokovic tried to serve out the match. He had three break points in Djokovic’s next service game to potentially even the set at 5-5. But it was only appropriate that the match ended with Federer creating break-point chances and Djokovic saving them.

“He’s always going to be out there making you play your best if you want to win,” Djokovic said.

After 33-year-old Flavia Pennetta announced her retirement during the women’s trophy presentation Saturday, it was hard not to speculate about the 34-year-old Federer’s future. He quickly answered that question during Sunday’s award ceremony, telling the crowd: “I’ll see you guys next year.”

The fans in New York badly wanted to see him get No. 18. They even cheered Djokovic’s missed first serves Sunday.

“They kept me going, and that’s definitely one of the reasons I still keep playing, because of these moments, goose bump moments,” Federer said later.

He hasn’t felt the goose bumps of a major title since 2012 Wimbledon. But everything the second-ranked Federer sees in his game and his results offers encouragement that he’ll eventually add to his record.

“You still cannot count him out,” Edberg said. “If he keeps playing at this level, he’ll get another shot.”

Alycia Parks reaches 1st WTA quarterfinal in Ostrava

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — American qualifier Alycia Parks is having quite the breakthrough tournament in Ostrava.

The 21-year-old Parks earned her first win against a top-10 ranked opponent by beating fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 at the Agel Open on Thursday to reach her first WTA Tour quarterfinal.

The 144th-ranked Parks ousted former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the opening round – her first win against a top-20 opponent – and showed off her power by hitting 59 winners against Sakkari, compared to just nine for her opponent.

“I came out here not expecting anything, just playing my game, and it got me through the match,” Parks said.

Parks will next face former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, who advanced via walkover when Belinda Bencic withdrew with a left foot injury.

Caty McNally, another American qualifier who is playing doubles with Parks in Ostrava, also reached the last eight by beating wild-card entry Karolina Muchova 6-1, 3-6, 6-1. McNally is also into her first WTA quarterfinal and will face top-ranked Iga Swiatek, who advanced Wednesday.

Djokovic beats Van de Zandschulp to reach Astana quarters

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Add Botic van de Zandschulp to the long list of players to have been schooled by Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic eased past Van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-1 on Thursday in his first career meeting with the 27-year-old Dutchman to reach the quarterfinals of the Astana Open.

Van de Zandschulp earned one break point in each set but couldn’t seriously threaten Djokovic, who is looking for a second straight indoor hardcourt title after winning in Tel Aviv last week.

“(In the) second set I think I started to read his serve better and just started swinging through the court more,” Djokovic said. “Botic is a quality tennis player. When he has time, he can hurt you, so I tried to take away that time from him and I’m very pleased with the way I played, particularly in the second.”

Djokovic will next face Karen Khachanov, who rallied to beat Marin Cilic 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. If the 21-time Grand Slam champion gets past that one, he could come up against fellow former No. 1 Daniil Medvedev. The second-seeded Russian beat Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-3, 6-2 to move one match away from a potential rematch of last year’s U.S. Open final, when Medvedev beat Djokovic to deny his attempt at a calendar-year Grand Slam.

Medvedev will first have to beat Roberto Bautista Agut, who advanced Wednesday.