U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in good form at French Open

AP Images
0 Comments

PARIS – Sloane Stephens has dropped only six games in her first two matches at the French Open.

Those victories have impressed former U.S. Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe, who now believes the reigning U.S. Open champion can claim a second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.

“Just FYI. Sloane Stephens is winning this tournament,” McEnroe tweeted after Stephens dispatched qualifier Magdalena Frech 6-2, 6-2 in just over an hour on Wednesday.

The 10th-seeded American player, who never got past the fourth round in her six previous appearances at the tournament, is more cautious. She missed the tournament last year and went through a stretch of poor results after winning at Flushing Meadows. She knows getting carried away would be a big mistake.

“That’s so sweet, that was nice of him,” Stephens said about McEnroe’s tweet. “I mean, I can’t predict the future, I don’t know. I would love to. We’ll see next Saturday.”

There is a very long way to go for Stephens, who has yet to meet top contenders in Paris. She will face a more serious test in the third round against Camila Giorgi of Italy, who has lost only eight games in the first two matches.

Giorgi has beaten Stephens twice in their three meetings, including a 6-3, 6-0 rout in Sidney this year on hard court. Stephens does not give too much importance to that result, though, as it came during her post-U.S. Open struggles following a knee injury.

“I was coming out of an injury and tried to get my season started,” she said.

After winning in New York, Stephens did not win a match for the rest of the season. She was beaten in the first round at the Australian Open in January and struggled with her tennis until March when she won the title in Miami.

So for now in Paris, Stephens is just happy to “feel good.”

As for McEnroe’s prediction, just wait and see.

More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Alycia Parks reaches 1st WTA quarterfinal in Ostrava

alycia parks
Robert Prange/Getty Images
1 Comment

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

novak djokovic
Nir Keidar/Getty Images
0 Comments

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.