Auger-Aliassime making splash at soggy Miami Open

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — It’s fair to say that Felix Auger-Aliassime is a surprise semifinalist at the Miami Open.

It’s fair – because he’s even surprising himself.

The 18-year-old Canadian will face 33-year-old American big-server John Isner, the defending champion. Auger-Aliassime is the youngest player left in a tournament where plenty of youngsters have made splashes, yet he says there’s no time right now to think about how rapidly his stock is rising.

“A lot of things are working, obviously,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I think I have been just improving in the last couple of weeks. But I don’t want to look back right now. I think I will do at the end of the tournament. Right now I’m looking forward to the next match and how far I can go in this tournament. Definitely I will take some time back home to reset and think about what happened.”

He had Thursday off, which probably saved him a bit of a frustrating day mentally. Play was to begin at 1 p.m. in a women’s semifinal match between 12th-seeded Ashleigh Barty and 21st-seeded Anett Kontaveit – they were delayed an hour at the start because of rain, then for another 2 1/2 hours after getting only two games in before the next wave of rain arrived.

Barty and Kontaveit came back out, played one more game – and hit another rain delay, their set tied 2-2 as they walked off the court at 4:39 p.m. Forecasters said rain was possible into the early evening.

“We understand your frustration,” tournament officials tweeted to fans curious about when play would resume.

Also on Thursday’s schedule, weather-permitting, was a men’s quarterfinal between fourth-seeded Roger Federer and sixth-seeded Kevin Anderson, along with the other women’s semifinal between second-seeded Simona Halep and fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova.

Weather is supposed to be better Friday, when Auger-Aliassime will face off with Isner.

Auger-Aliassime wasn’t even in the top 100 of the world rankings two months ago, or in the top 50 when the Miami Open started. He’s now assured of climbing to at least 33rd when the rankings get updated Monday and becomes the first men’s player born in the 2000s to get past the No. 50 mark.

“Obviously it’s a privilege to be compared to all these great players,” Auger-Aliassime said. “I think it just shows that I’m doing good things, I’m on the right track.”

Shapovalov is 19, Tiafoe is 21, so that means the semifinal on that half of the bracket – facing the Federer-Anderson winner – will be a matchup of different tennis generations. Anderson is 32, Federer is 37.

Federer said he’s enjoying seeing the younger players start to make their mark.

“It’s interesting how they go about it differently against one another,” Federer said. “I think they really have taken it to the next level now, all the bunch of guys we are talking about right now, and it’s really nice to see.”

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.”

Zhu beats Tsurenko to win Thailand Open

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Zhu Lin of China won her maiden career title after beating Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Thailand Open.

In a match lasting one hour and 45 minutes, both players exchanged nail-biting baseline rallies before Zhu finally found a way past her determined opponent.

The 29-year-old Chinese player managed a break to go up 5-3 in the first set. Although she was broken to love in the following game, Zhu returned the favor straight back, also to love, to take the opening set in 46 minutes.

The second saw players trade breaks with Zhu eventually securing her first match point at 5-3. She sprayed a shot wide to miss the chance but capitalized on her third in the 10th game with a backhand winner.

“I’m so happy to finally win my first tour title. All the hard work finally paid off,” said the No. 54-ranked Zhu, who will crack the top 50 when the new WTA rankings are updated.

Zhu has started the season strongly, reaching the quarter-finals in Auckland and the last 16 at the Australian Open.

The victory also allowed Zhu to avenge her loss to the Ukrainian at the WTA Dubai Championships back in 2019.

Despite the loss, the No. 136-ranked Tsurenko, 33, will return to the top 100.