Djokovic overpowers Pouille to reach Japan Open semifinals

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TOKYO — Showing no lingering effects of a shoulder injury, Novak Djokovic coasted into the semifinals of the Japan Open on Friday with a straight-sets win over Lucas Pouille.

Top-ranked Djokovic, who is attempting to win a title on his tournament debut for the 10th time, needed just 50 minutes at Ariake Colosseum to dispatch the fifth-seeded Pouille 6-1, 6-2 and set up a semifinal with either Hyeon Chung or David Goffin, who won here in 2017.

Djokovic got off to a strong start, winning the first game with a powerful ace, one of five in the first set.

He broke Pouille in the next game to take a 2-0 lead and went up 5-1 after another break before serving to win the first set in just 20 minutes.

The second set was more of the same with Djokovic breaking Pouille in the first game and taking a 4-1 lead before Pouille won his first game of the set.

Pouille showed a brief sign of life by breaking Djokovic to make it 4-2 but that was as close as he would get. Djokovic broke in the next game and then served out to win with a powerful forehand to the corner.

Djokovic retired with a left-shoulder injury during his fourth-round match against Stan Wawrinka at the U.S. Open.

In his first competitive match since facing Wawrinka, Djokovic was knocked out of the doubles with Filip Krajinovic on Monday but beat Alexei Popyrin in the first round and Japanese wild card entry Go Soeda in the second round.

In other matches, Reilly Opelka beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3, 6-3 and will face John Millman in the semifinals. Millman overpowered Taro Daniel 6-4, 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.