Nadal plays surging Querrey for Mexican Open title

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ACAPULCO, Mexico — Rafael Nadal routed Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-2 Friday night to advance to the Mexican Open final against Sam Querrey.

Seeking his first title this season and 70th overall, Nadal ran his Mexican Open winning streak to 14 matches. He won the event in 2005 and 2013, when it was played on clay.

Nadal will face the American Querrey, a 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 winner over Australian Nick Kyrgios.

The sixth-ranked Spaniard, playing his first tournament since losing to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, last won a hardcourt title in January 2014 in Doha.

“You need to have a great day to get a result like this against Cilic,” Nadal said. “Anytime you play against someone like Cilic you expect to suffer in a tight match, but it was not like that. I believe that he had his chances, but I played a good game”.

In the late game, the 40th-ranked Querrey continued an inspired week in which he defeated No. 11 David Goffin, No. 9 Dominic Thiem and now No. 17 Kyrgios, who upset second-ranked Novak Djokovic on Thursday.

Querrey ended Thiem’s seven-match winning streak.

“It does not get any easier tomorrow, it will be the toughest test,” Querrey said. “I played great today, but I need to play even better tomorrow to beat Nadal”.

The American will try to win his ninth title, and first since Delray Beach in 2016. Querrey is 0-4 against Nadal.

In the women’s semifinal, second-seed Kristina Mladenovic of France beat American Christina McHale 7-5, 4-6, 6-2. Ukraine’s Lesiia Tsurenko led top-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia 5-0 when Lucic-Baroni retired because of a stomach virus.

Unseeded Parks beats top-seeded Garcia for her 1st title

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LYON, France — Unseeded American Alycia Parks secured a stunning 7-6 (7), 7-5 upset win over WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in the Open Metropole de Lyon final to clinch her first career title.

“I think France has a special part in my heart right now,” Parks said. “I’ll be back next year.”

The 22-year-old Parks, who is ranked 79th, had 15 aces and saved all four break points against the top-seeded Garcia.

Parks secured the only break of a tight contest to win the match.

The fifth-ranked Garcia, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year, was seeking a 12th career title.

“Congrats on a great tournament,” Garcia told Parks in English. “If you keep playing like this for sure you’re going to keep going up (the rankings).”

Parks has a career-best ranking of 75th.

The 29-year-old Garcia, who grew up in Lyon, took time to thank her home crowd – this time in French.

“It means a lot to play here, thanks for being here,” Garcia said. “You supported me from the first point to the last. Thanks for all your encouragement.”

Zhu beats Tsurenko to win Thailand Open

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Zhu Lin of China won her maiden career title after beating Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Thailand Open.

In a match lasting one hour and 45 minutes, both players exchanged nail-biting baseline rallies before Zhu finally found a way past her determined opponent.

The 29-year-old Chinese player managed a break to go up 5-3 in the first set. Although she was broken to love in the following game, Zhu returned the favor straight back, also to love, to take the opening set in 46 minutes.

The second saw players trade breaks with Zhu eventually securing her first match point at 5-3. She sprayed a shot wide to miss the chance but capitalized on her third in the 10th game with a backhand winner.

“I’m so happy to finally win my first tour title. All the hard work finally paid off,” said the No. 54-ranked Zhu, who will crack the top 50 when the new WTA rankings are updated.

Zhu has started the season strongly, reaching the quarter-finals in Auckland and the last 16 at the Australian Open.

The victory also allowed Zhu to avenge her loss to the Ukrainian at the WTA Dubai Championships back in 2019.

Despite the loss, the No. 136-ranked Tsurenko, 33, will return to the top 100.