Edmund beats Seppi to win New York Open title

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NEW YORK — First, there was a five-match losing streak, and later things got even worse for Kyle Edmund.

He dropped seven straight matches during a difficult 2019 that sent him tumbling down the rankings, just a year after he enjoyed his greatest success in tennis.

That’s what made Edmund appreciate his second ATP title even more.

He won it Sunday, wearing down Andreas Seppi for a 7-5, 6-1 victory at the New York Open.

“The reasons you get to right now and the trophy here and what makes it nice is because you have to experience all those downs and then it makes you realize that just can’t take the success for granted,” Edmund said.

“You get the success from having the downs because you learn from that, and the low points mentally and the disappointments of losing matches, those help you get to the happy times, the success, the winning the matches.”

Edmund won five straight games to take the first set and build a big lead in the second, seizing control with shots that seemed to get more powerful as the match went on.

The 35-year-old Seppi, 10 years older than Edmund, hung in for a while as balls kept coming back harder than he hit them, but fell short in his bid for a first title since 2012.

Edmund wouldn’t even earn his first win on tour until the next year. He eventually worked his way up to No. 14 in the rankings in 2018, when he won his first title and also reached the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Edmund battled a left knee injury that forced him to pull out of three tournaments during his subpar 2019 but had his game back on track this week in Long Island, where the No. 8 seed was stretched to three sets just once.

Neither player had much trouble holding serve in the first set until Edmund suddenly pounced in the final game. His hard, deep shots kept pressure on Seppi and set up a backhand down the line to earn the break and wrap up the set.

Edmund then broke Seppi’s next serve en route to a 3-0 lead in the second. Seppi fought off four break points for a shaky hold in the next game, but Edmund simply came right back and banged three straight aces in an easy hold for a 4-1 lead.

“He’s obviously been on the tour a long time, he’s experienced, he knows what to do on the court,” said Edmund, who wished his father in Britain a happy birthday after the match. “So it’s tough, but the way I’ve been playing I knew I would have opportunities, especially with more forehands, to get into points.”

Seppi then left the court to receive treatment and seemed to be slowed a bit by a leg injury, making it even harder to run down Edmund’s shots.

He was seeking a fourth career title. With a victory Sunday, his seven years and four months without a title would have been the longest drought to end since Robert Van’t Hof went seven years, five months between titles in the 1980s.

The road to a title at the Nassau Memorial Veterans Coliseum opened up even before the tournament began with injury absences for top-25 players Nick Kyrgios and Kei Nishikori. Then No. 1 seed John Isner and No. 2 Milos Raonic lost their opening matches, as did two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson, the 2018 tournament champion.

Seppi overcame a match point in his opening match and then got a on a good run until running into Edmund, who improved to 5-1 against him with two victories already this year.

Reilly Opelka, the 2019 singles champion, lost with partner Steve Johnson in the doubles final to Dominic Inglot and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6).

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.