Frances Tiafoe stuns Kevin Anderson at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Frances Tiafoe rolled up his white shirt’s right sleeve, flexed his biceps and slapped the muscle five times. Then he pounded his chest and yelled, “Yeah! Let’s go! Let’s go! Come on!”

Forgive the young American’s exuberance. This was, after all, the biggest victory of his nascent career.

Down a set and 3-0 in the second, the 20-year-old Tiafoe came back to stun two-time Grand Slam finalist and No. 5 seed Kevin Anderson 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5 on Tuesday in the Australian Open’s second round.

“I went to a different place. I dug insanely deep,” the 39th-ranked Tiafoe said during an on-court interview. “It’s all about competing. Guys are so good. It’s just about how badly you want it. I want it real bad.”

It helped that Anderson’s best attribute, his intimidating serve, slowed down along the way because of problems with his right arm. Anderson was repeatedly visited by a trainer during changeovers and he lost about 5 mph (10 kph) on his first serves as the match wore on.

Anderson was the runner-up at Wimbledon last year and at the U.S. Open in 2017 and had won all three previous matchups against Tiafoe.

But Tiafoe ended a six-match losing streak against top-10 opponents and is now into the third round at a major for the second time, equaling his best showing.

Defeat Andreas Seppi of Italy next, and Tiafoe would make his debut in the second week of a Grand Slam.

He turns 21 on Monday and said: “If I’m playing on that day and beat somebody, that’s the best present I can get.”

Another 20-something from the U.S. threw a scare into another older, more-accomplished top-10 foe, but Mackenzie McDonald couldn’t match Tiafoe’s upset, losing to No. 6 Marin Cilic 7-5, 6-7 (9), 6-4, 6-4.

Cilic was the 2014 U.S. Open champion and the runner-up at Melbourne Park to Roger Federer last year. Against McDonald, an NCAA champion in singles and doubles at UCLA who is 23 years old and ranked 81st, Cilic delivered 25 aces, including on each of the last two points.

Federer, seeking a record seventh Australian Open title and third in a row, reached the third round by beating Dan Evans 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-3.

“I couldn’t pull away early in the match,” said Federer, who actually was two points from dropping the opening set.

The defending women’s champion, Caroline Wozniacki, was in action later Wednesday, along with Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber, all of whom have won the Australian Open.

Other seeded men advancing in the afternoon included No. 14 Stefanos Tsitsipas and No. 18 Diego Schwartzman, who edged Denis Kudla of the U.S. 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-7 (6), 6-4, and No. 26 Fernando Verdasco.

Three seeded women were sent home, including No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, a 6-0, 6-2 loser against 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova. No. 9 Kiki Bertens and No. 20 Anett Kontaveit also exited.

No. 5 Sloane Stephens opened the day in Rod Laver Arena with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over her junior doubles partner Timea Babos.

Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion and a semifinalist here in 2013, reached the third round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2014.

“I’m kind of conquering all the places where I’ve been terrible,” Stephens said.

Croatia advances in Davis Cup as Coric beats Thiem

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Borna Coric beat 2020 U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem 7-6 (3), 6-2 to send Croatia into the group stage of the Davis Cup.

Coric helped the Croatians win their second Davis Cup title in 2018, but he was sidelined when they lost in the 2021 final while missing a year of action with a right shoulder injury.

He returned to the tour last March, winning a Masters 1000 title in August in Cincinnati, Ohio, and rejoined the Croatians when they reached the Davis Cup semifinals last year.

His victory over Thiem, who has also dealt with injuries in recent years, gave Croatia a 3-1 victory in Rijeka. The Austrians had taken the tie against the No. 1 team in the Davis Cup rankings to a fourth match when Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler beat Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic 6-3, 7-6 (11) in the doubles match earlier Sunday.

Chile, Finland, the Netherlands, South Korea and the Czech Republic also completed victories Sunday to secure their places in the next round, which will be played in September.

On Saturday, the U.S. completed a sweep of Uzbekistan, while Serbia, France, Britain, Switzerland and Sweden also finished off victories. Those 12 countries will play in the group stage, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will then advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In Sunday’s other matches:

– Finland 3, Argentina 1: On indoor hard courts in Espoo, Finland, Harri Heliovaara and Emil Ruusuvuori edged Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4, before Ruusuvuori secured the winning point and a personal 3-0 weekend by beating Facundo Bagnis 7-5, 6-1.

– Netherlands 4, Slovakia 0: On indoor hard courts in Groningen, Matwe Middelkoop and Wesley Koolhof sent the hosts through with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Alex Molcan and Lukas Klein. Middelkoop then beat Jozef Kovalik 6-4, 6-4.

– South Korea 3, Belgium 2: On indoor hard courts in Seoul, the hosts rallied from a 2-0 deficit after the first day. Min-Kyu Song and Ji Sung Nam kept them alive with a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) victory over Joran Vliegen and Sander Gille. Soonwoo Kwon then beat David Goffin 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 before Seong Chan Hong completed the comeback with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over Zizou Bergs.

– Czech Republic 3, Portugal 1: On an indoor clay court in Maia, Portugal, Jiri Lehecka wrapped up the victory by beating Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-1.

– Chile 3, Kazakhstan 1: On an outdoor clay court in La Serena, Chile, Cristian Garin beat Alexander Bublik 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 after the hosts had taken the lead with a victory by the doubles team of Alejandro Tabilo and Tomas Barrios Vera.

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.”