Heated Medvedev wins QF for Russia; Australia beats Britain

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SYDNEY — Daniil Medvedev was docked a point for twice banging the umpire’s chair with his racket in a heated second set before he recovered to secure Russia’s semifinal spot at the ATP Cup with a win over Argentine opponent Diego Schwartzman.

The fourth-ranked Medvedev blamed the meltdown on jet lag from Russia’s cross-continental journey from Perth to Sydney – including an overnight stop in Melbourne – between the group stage and the quarterfinals.

He said he expected to get a fine for the code violation but otherwise was satisfied to win the “super tough match” 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday to secure Russia’s win over Argentina before the doubles. Karen Khachanov had given Russia the lead when he beat Guido Pella 6-2, 7-6 (4).

“I didn’t have anything near me to hit at than the chair … so just hit one thing with the racket,” he said. “I got a code violation which I deserve – the second one is no question. Then we moved on.”

There were some other positives, Medvedev said, listing the fact that the he didn’t damage the chair, injure anybody or break his racket when he hit Mohamed Lahyani’s chair in a heated exchange after dropped serve in the seventh game of the second set.

The Russians spent the afternoon watching the broadcast of Australia’s 2-1 win over Britain in the first of the quarterfinal matches, when Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios combined to edge Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury 3-6, 6-3, 18-16 on their fifth match point.

Kyrgios gave Australia the lead with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Cam Norrie in the opening singles but de Minaur lost to Dan Evans 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (2), meaning the result would hinge on the doubles.

The tension in the night matches started at the end of the first set. Medvedev had set point on serve but was broken in a game lasting 8+ minutes. He broke back to win the set but then exchanged words with Schwartzman as both players went to their team zones at each end of the court.

Lahyani got out of his umpire’s chair to get between the players, and later gave Medvedev a code violation for unsporting conduct for going on with the verbal exchange.

Seven games later, Medvedev approached the chair to get clarification on the code violation. He tapped the umpire’s chair and was warned for it, and then hit again and got a point penalty, meaning Schwartzman started the next game with a 15-0 lead.

Medvedev said he got the second code violation for arguing about the first one, “because I didn’t hear it.”

“I will probably talk to Mohamed to see why I got it, because I don’t know why I got it,” Medvedev said.

Schwartzman held on to his break and leveled the match on his fifth set point. But Medvedev, who lost an almost five-hour U.S. Open final to Nadal last year, regained his composure in the third set, cut down his errors and got the vital break in the eighth game.

Russia team captain Marat Safin said the tennis was “high-class” and commended Medvedev for blocking out the distractions.

“It was important for him to stay mentally strong. Just hold on to what he can,” Safin said. “Give the best and see what’s going to come. And not to go too crazy, and not to rush with the approach shots, or hitting the ball too hard.

“You have to be smart, and sometimes squeeze yourself together and maintain self calm.”

Medvedev went 3-0 in his singles matches as Russia swept all three group games in Perth, but had a tougher time against Schwartzman, who produced the win against Croatia on Wednesday in Sydney that propelled Argentina into the quarterfinals.

Now the Russians will meet the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal between Serbia and Canada.

Australia will play either Spain or Belgium on Saturday, progressing after team captain Lleyton Hewitt gambled on sending his two singles players back out for the doubles.

A euphoric Kyrgios lifted de Minaur over his shoulder and carried him off the court after the doubles win, then told the crowd he would celebrate with a red wine.

Fair enough. De Minaur spent five hours on court in back-to-back matches, saving four match points before losing his singles to Evans in a 3-hour, 23-minute encounter, and then saving four match points before winning the deciding doubles in a super tiebreaker.

“It was unreal. You know, the adrenaline has kind of worn off and I’m exhausted,” Kyrgios said. “But it was awesome. It was honestly – today was one of the best moments in my career, definitely.”

Australia’s unbeaten run through the new team tournament has come at a time when the country needs some good news amid catastrophic wildfires that have claimed at least 26 lives since September, killed millions of animals and destroyed more than 2,000 homes.

Britain had four match points in the doubles. The one that Murray won’t forget was at 11-10, when he had an almost open court in front of him but somehow sent a backhand long.

“I missed that shot basically on top of the net, which was ridiculous,” Murray said. “That will hurt. I’ll probably never miss it again in my career. But today I missed it, and that cost us.”

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.