Sakkari upsets Venus Williams to reach Silicon Valley semis

AP
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Maria Sakkari of Greece upset third-seeded Venus Williams 6-4, 7-6 (2) on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.

Sakkari came back from 0-3 in the first set and 3-5 in the second set. She advanced to face American Danielle Collins – with the winner reaching her first WTA final.

Collins, a two-time NCAA champion for Virginia, advanced after former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus retired midway through the second set due to injury.

Azarenka led 4-2 in the first set before needing a tiebreaker to win the 72-minutes set 7-6 (4). She grabbed her right leg in the opening game of the second set, lost the first three games and was evaluated by a trainer and doctor before retiring prior to the fourth game.

Fifth-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania secured the first semifinal spot by beating Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 7-5. The Romanian will face No. 4 seed Elise Mertens.

Mertens, a Belgian, saved two set points in the first set, forced a tiebreak and won four straight games in the second set for a 7-6 (4), 6-3 victory over Johanna Konta. It’s Mertens’ fifth WTA semifinal of the year.

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.