Djokovic says Grand Slams, No. 1 ranking no longer priority

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Novak Djokovic says Grand Slam trophies and the No. 1 ranking are no longer his priorities.

The top-ranked Serb, who has won 12 major titles, said after a light training session in Belgrade on Friday that he felt emotionally drained after winning the French Open in June for his first Grand Slam on clay. He became only the third man to win all four major tournaments in a row, something last done almost 50 years ago.

“I psychologically felt huge pressure, and now I’m no longer thinking about the number of titles. If they come, super, I will accept them,” Djokovic said. “After all, tennis is not the only thing in the world.”

He had a poor midseason, losing early at Wimbledon and the Olympics, and was undone in the U.S. Open final. He has reportedly had physical and personal issues which reflected on his recent results.

Djokovic said he will “sit and talk” with his coach Boris Becker about their future cooperation. The German has helped Djokovic win seven Grand Slam titles.

“I’m happy with the cooperation … he helped me a lot,” Djokovic said.

He withdrew from the China Open next week because of an elbow injury. He said he expects to play at the Shanghai Masters from Oct. 10.

Djokovic said the “micro injury” hampered his serve during the U.S. Open, where he was stopped in the final by Stanislas Wawrinka.

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.