Barty, Rublev win Adelaide titles ahead of Australian Open

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Top-ranked Ashleigh Barty has fine-tuned for the first tennis major of the season by winning her first title on home soil with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over No. 24-ranked Dayana Yastremska in Saturday’s Adelaide International final.

The French Open champion had reached finals in Australia before, finishing runner-up twice at the Sydney International after losses to Angelique Kerber in 2018 and Petra Kvitova last year.

She’s now the first Australian woman to win a tour-level title at home since 2011.

Andrey Rublev became the first man in 16 years to win two titles in the first two weeks of the season when he beat Lloyd Harris 6-3, 6-0 in Adelaide to follow up on his victory in Doha.

Dominik Hrbaty won the Adelaide and Auckland titles in 2004 before the Australian Open.

“I was not thinking about (the record) but it’s an amazing feeling,” Russian Rublev said. “If you talk about results, of course this is the best I have ever done.”

Barty conceded just two points on serve during the first set, breaking the 19-year-old Yastremska’s serve in the third and seventh games.

Yastremska struggled against Barty’s backhand slice, and changes of pace and height on the ball.

Barty broke to open the second set but Yastremska rallied to win the next three games, and had two break point chances in the eighth game.

The home favorite saved both of those to level at 4-4 and then broke Yastremska’s serve in the 11th game and served out.

“This is incredible. Great start to the year,” Barty said. “I definitely feel the love out here. I love playing in Australia. I love playing at home.

“It was nice to get the ball rolling this week – I can’t wait to get started in Melbourne on Monday.”

Barty’s next match will be on Rod Laver Arena on the first night of the Australian Open against Lesia Tsurenko. Her run to the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park last year was Barty’s best run yet at her home championship. She followed that up by winning at Roland Garros for her first major title and closed the 2019 season with victory in the WTA Finals.

Yastremska, seeded No. 23, will face Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan in the first round.

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.