Ruling in Maria Sharapova appeal postponed to September

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — A ruling on Maria Sharapova’s appeal of her two-year doping ban has been postponed until September, ruling her definitively out of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said on Monday that Sharapova and the International Tennis Federation agreed to defer the decision, which had been due to be issued by next Monday.

CAS, the highest court in sports, said both parties wanted more time to prepare their case and also cited “scheduling conflicts.”

A verdict is expected by Sept. 19, the court said.

Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1-ranked player, tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open in January and received a two-year ban from the ITF. She filed an appeal last month, seeking to overturn or reduce the sanction.

The parties agreed then to an “expedited procedure” that would allow CAS to issue its ruling this month. Had the suspension been annulled, that would have made Sharapova eligible for the Olympics in August.

The decision to push back the ruling to September also rules out any possibility of Sharapova being cleared to play in the U.S. Open, which runs from Aug. 29-Sept. 11.

“Due to the parties requiring additional time to complete and respond to their respective evidentiary submissions, and several scheduling conflicts, the parties have agreed not to expedite the appeal,” CAS said in the statement.

Sharapova’s lawyer, John Haggerty, said the decision was by mutual agreement and will give her team additional time to prepare its case.

“CAS is the court of final appeal and this extension will be helpful.” Haggerty said in a statement. “We are hopeful Maria’s suspension will be reduced, but in all cases, these additional two months will not impact our expectations of what can be achieved.”

Sharapova acknowledged taking meldonium before each match at the Australian Open. She said she had not been aware that meldonium, also known as mildronate, had been banned by World Anti-Doping Agency as of Jan. 1.

An independent three-person panel appointed by the ITF ruled that Sharapova did not intend to cheat because she didn’t know meldonium was banned, but that she bore “sole responsibility” and “very significant fault” for the positive test.

Sharapova said she first was prescribed the Latvian-made drug, typically used for heart conditions, for medical reasons in 2006.

Her ban is due to end on Jan. 25, 2018, which would keep her out of eight Grand Slam tournaments, along with the Olympics.

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.