Serena, Wozniacki win again in Auckland in doubles

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki prolonged their one-time-only doubles partnership Wednesday when they advanced to the semifinals of the ASB Classic.

Playing together for the first time in their careers, Williams and Wozniacki beat top-seeded Johanna Larsson and Caroline Dolehide 6-2, 6-1.

The pair will not play together at the Australian Open, which will be Wozniacki’s final Grand Slam tournament before retirement. So the Auckland tournament offers the only chance for fans to savor the sight of two former No. 1 players playing as a partnership.

The match against Larsson and Dolehide, both accomplished doubles players, was the toughest test of their partnership. Larsson has 13 doubles titles and Dolehide has been a U.S. Open doubles semifinalist.

Williams was a driving force in their win Wednesday, dominating the court, though she paid tribute to Wozniacki who “never missed.”

“We’re just having a great time,” Wozniacki said. “Even if I miss a couple and I’m mad at myself, Serena is always so positive. She’s like, ‘You’re doing great. You’re doing amazing,’ so it makes you feel good out there.

“We’re just going to go out there every match, just play, have fun and see what happens and the good thing is with doubles is we’ve had two matches and we’re in the semifinals.”

Wozniacki will play Lauren Davis in the second round of singles on Thursday while Williams will play Christina McHale.

Eugenie Bouchard came into the tournament as a wild-card entry after a difficult 2019 season and progressed to the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-4 win over eighth-seeded Caroline Garcia.

The 25-year-old Bouchard, who has been as high as No. 5 in singles, dropped out of the top 200 last year, at one stage losing 12 straight first-round matches.

She incurred a time violation at set point in the first set but held serve, then closed out the match at her first opportunity.

No. 15 Petra Martic, seeded second, lost 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Alize Cornet, who finished 2019 outside the top 50 for the first time in eight years. Cornet sealed the match with three consecutive aces.

“It just happened to be the best time to do my first aces of the match and three in a row, come on!” Carnet said. “I don’t even know how that happened.”

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.