Venus Williams holds off challenge from teen at Rogers Cup

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MONTREAL — Venus Williams advanced to the second round of the Rogers Cup after a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Caroline Dolehide on Monday.

The 14th-ranked Williams made quick work of her 19-year-old fellow American in the second set after coming from behind to win a back-and-forth first set.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion will now face either Sorana Cristea or Monica Niculescu in the second round.

It looked like an upset was in the cards in the early going. The 124th-ranked Dolehide, who was making her Rogers Cup debut, jumped to a 3-1 lead in the first set after breaking Williams’ serve. One of just two teenagers in the main draw, Dolehide used her heavy service game and aggressive play to challenge Williams on every point. She finished the match with three aces. Williams had none.

But the 38-year-old veteran broke Dolehide back to take a 4-3 lead, and she did it again in the deciding game of the first set.

Dolehide, one of 12 qualifiers in the main draw, just couldn’t maintain the same pace in the second set, as Williams only lost 11 points on her way to victory.

“It’s never easy to play somebody you haven’t played before, and she definitely has a lot of talent,” Williams said. “She took advantage of it and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before she’s able to play even better than today.”

Dolehide earned spot in the main draw of the U.S. Open on Monday when Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia withdrew due to an injured right shoulder.

Rain moved into the area just before 7 p.m., interrupting two matches, including one in the first set between Russia’s Maria Sharapova and Bulgaria’s Sesil Karatantcheva.

With Sharapova leading 4-1 after 24 minutes of play, the match was delayed due to heavy rain and lightning.

Both players returned to the court three times to resume the match over the course of the three-hour delay, only for the rain to keep returning, forcing them back off the court.

Play was finally suspended at 10:30 p.m. The match will resume Tuesday.

The match between Canada’s Francoise Abanda and Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, which was supposed to begin after Sharapova’s match, was also postponed to Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, Eugenie Bouchard and partner Sloane Stephens upset the fifth-seeded duo of Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (6) in first-round doubles action.

“The reason I played doubles was to get more games under my belt,” Bouchard said. “It’s better than just a normal practice. I really worked on my service game, my volleys, my return. It can help with my singles game.

“Every victory can give you confidence.”

Bouchard has only played in six doubles matches this season, including three with Stephens.

In singles play, 29-year-old Julia Goerges of Germany avoided an early loss with a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Timea Babos of Hungary in a match that lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours. Goerges had 17 aces and five double faults to Babos’ eight and one, respectively.

Goerges will next face qualifier Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in the second round.

In other singles matches, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic beat Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-4; Anett Kontaveit of Estonia defeated Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 4-6, 6-3, 6-1; and Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia cruised past Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 6-1, 6-0.

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.