Pliskova, Svitolina advance to Australian Open’s third round

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Karolina Pliskova extended her winning start to the season by reaching the third round of the Australian Open with a rain-interrupted 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory over Madison Brengle.

The 2016 U.S. Open finalist started this year with a run to the title at the Brisbane International and entered the season’s first major seeded seventh, still with a chance to regain the top ranking depending on her performance at Melbourne Park.

After dropping serve twice in the first set against Brengle, Pliskova completely dominated the second and third sets and capped it with a pair of aces.

“Some breaks, some good tennis, and some bad mistakes from me too,” Pliskova said. “The first set wasn’t very good from my side, but she played some good points and was very solid.”

She’ll next play No. 27 Camila Giorgi, who beat Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-0.

In other early matches, WTA Finals winner Elina Svitolina beat Viktoria Kuzmova 6-4, 6-1 in 67 minutes, No. 13 Anastasija Sevastova beat teenage Canadian qualifier Bianca Andreescu 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 and No. 21 Wang Qiang Wang had a 6-2, 6-3 win over Aleksandra Krunic.

In matches later Thursday, top-ranked Simona Halep was playing Sofia Kenin and seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams was set to meet Eugenie Bouchard in a night match.

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic, a six-time Australian titlist, was playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a rematch of the 2008 final in the last match on Rod Laver Arena.

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.