Upsets rule the day at Shenzhen Open

AP Photo
0 Comments

SHENZHEN, China — On a day of upsets at the Shenzhen Open, Kristyna Pliskova beat defending champion Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 6-4 and Anna Blinkova defeated top-seeded Belinda Bencic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 on Tuesday.

Pliskova had 15 aces and saved 11 break points against Sabalenka.

“She’s playing so fast, so I had to be ready from the first point. My serve was there, which is always important, so I’m happy that I won,” Pliskova said. “I’m happy because I reached the quarterfinals here two years ago, so I’m happy to be back there and looking to see if I can do more.”

Pliskova will next play Kateryna Bondarenko after she defeated eighth-seeded Shuai Zhang 7-6 (8), 6-3 in the second round.

Blinkova rallied to beat Bencic in her opening-round match, serving a dozen aces and breaking her opponent’s serve five times.

“It was a great performance from me today,” Blinkova said. “I prepared very carefully and I’m happy that I played good tennis. I was thinking to just fight for every point.”

The 21-year-old Blinkova lost five of the first six games but recovered well.

“I didn’t feel great in the beginning of the match,” Blinkova said. “I didn’t play bad, but I managed to increase the level of my game slowly, step by step.

“I said to myself that I needed to put more balls in the court, because I was giving her too many mistakes. I tried to play big margins, but aggressive.”

The Russian will next face Zarina Diyas in the second round. Diyas defeated wild-card entry Yingying Duan 6-3, 6-4.

Elise Mertens also reached the quarterfinals, beating Xiyu Wang 6-4, 6-3.

Alycia Parks reaches 1st WTA quarterfinal in Ostrava

alycia parks
Robert Prange/Getty Images
2 Comments

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

novak djokovic
Nir Keidar/Getty Images
1 Comment

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.