Djokovic advances after Nishikori retires at Australian Open

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No man has won more Australian Open titles than Novak Djokovic, so obviously he has worked out a routine for getting through the rounds.

After needing less than an hour to get through his quarterfinal match — the six-time champion was leading 6-1, 4-1 when Kei Nishikori retired with a sore right leg — he was asked about the prospect of a final featuring the players ranked No. 1 and No. 2.

“Right now it’s my press conference, so it will be nice to talk about me more than Nadal,” he said. “If you want to talk about our possible encounter, we talk about that if we both win semis.”

Rafael Nadal plays 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas on Thursday in the first of the men’s semifinals. Djokovic takes on No. 28-seeded Lucas Pouille on Friday.

Djokovic is back in the semifinals at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2016, when he defended his title to end a sequence of five Australian titles in six years.

He shares the men’s record for most Australian titles with Roger Federer and Roy Emerson. After winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, the 31-year-old Serb is hoping to make it three major titles in a row.

Djokovic has a 27-25 edge in career-head-to-heads with Nadal, whose 17 major titles include only one in Australia (2009).

Their only career meeting at Melbourne Park was in the 2012 final, when Djokovic won an epic five-setter 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5.

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.