Thiem edges Berrettini to win Berlin exhibition tournament

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BERLIN — Amid face masks, disinfectant and temperature checks for the coronavirus, Dominic Thiem defeated Matteo Berrettini 6-7 (4) 6-4, 10-8 in the men’s final of a grass-court exhibition tournament on Wednesday.

The Steffi Graf Stadium in Berlin’s Grunewald district was largely empty for the match with spectator numbers restricted. No more than 800 fans were allowed in the 5,000-capacity stadium, though there were fewer present for the final after rain delayed play for almost seven hours.

The women’s final between Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova was supposed to be played after the men’s but was postponed to Friday. Matches to determine third place were called off altogether because of the rain.

A second exhibition tournament at Berlin’s Tempelhof Hangar is set to start Friday.

Both Berlin tournaments are being played with professional tennis largely shut down due to the pandemic and to replace a WTA tournament that had been scheduled for June. That was supposed to mark the return of tour-level tennis to Berlin for the first time since 2008, when the International German Championships was last played on the WTA Tour.

Fans were asked to sit apart in the Steffi Graf Stadium. Those who did attend were asked to walk through a machine that sprayed a disinfectant mist over their clothes before their temperature was checked by a security guard.

The matches had a super tiebreaker replacing the third set to avoid player fatigue, and there were electronic line calls with no line judges to reduce the number of people involved on court.

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.