Mladenovic out of U.S. Open due to coronavirus quarantine

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — The top-seeded women’s doubles team was dropped from the U.S. Open because one of the players, Kristina Mladenovic of France, was issued a quarantine notice by public health officials from the county where her tournament hotel is.

Mladenovic was one of seven players placed under extra restrictions during the tournament after contact tracing determined she potentially could have been exposed to COVID-19 by Benoit Paire, the only entrant to test positive.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced Saturday that it was removing Mladenovic and her partner, Timea Babos of Hungary, saying it was “obligated to adhere to government guidance.”

Mladenovic and Babos were supposed to play their second-round match against Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Alison Riske of the U.S., who advanced via walkover.

Mladenovic had been allowed to compete until Saturday, playing two matches in singles – she lost in the second round after blowing a 6-1, 5-1 lead – and winning one in doubles.

And the other half-dozen players found to have contact with Paire also played in the tournament, including No. 32 seed Adrian Mannarino in men’s singles, whose match Friday was delayed for more than 2+ hours until it was determined he could play. He lost.

The USTA said the new quarantine orders arrived after Mannarino’s match and meant those players “identified as having prolonged close contact with the infected player will quarantine in their rooms for the remainder of their quarantine period.”

Mary Ellen Laurain, a spokeswoman for the Nassau County Department of Health, said medical privacy rules prevented her from discussing the cases of individual players. But she said 14-day quarantine orders are issued for any person living or staying in the county, including at hotels, who has had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

FORZA, BERRETTINI!

No fans are allowed inside the gates at the U.S. Open because of the pandemic, but 2019 semifinalist Matteo Berrettini’s most loyal supporter found a way to offer encouragement Saturday by yelling from outside a fence near Court 17.

After beating No. 30 seed Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to return to the fourth round at Flushing Meadows, No. 6 Berrettini was asked whether he was aware of his pal’s attempts to be heard.

“Nobody didn’t hear him,” said Berrettini, a 24-year-old from Rome. “Was really loud today. I think louder than the other days.”

The fan is also Italian and owns the restaurant on Manhattan’s Lower East Side where Berrettini went for dinner most nights during his lengthy stay in New York a year ago. His pal even sat in Berrettini’s guest box during that run, wearing a shirt festooned with the word “Carbonara.”

On Saturday, he was outside the fence, shouting in Italian, saying phrases that mean “Let’s go!” or “Be strong!”

NOT BAD, EH?

Everyone’s been anticipating big things from young Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is 20 and seeded 15th, and Denis Shapovalov, who’s 21 and seeded 12th – and they’re both still around at this year’s U.S. Open.

What about another player from Canada, Vasek Pospisil? He’s 30, ranked 94th and hadn’t played an official match since February when he arrived at Flushing Meadows.

“To be honest,” Pospisil said, “I wasn’t expecting a lot.”

Well, now Pospisil is into the fourth round for the first time in nine appearances at the U.S. Open, thanks to his upset of No. 8 Roberto Bautista Agut by a 7-5, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 score Saturday. That followed Pospisil’s elimination of another seed, No. 25 Milos Raonic, who just so happens to be from Canada, too.

Pospisil is dealing with an abdominal strain and a thigh strain but hanging in there.

“I think I’m more mature. I’m better at using my energy more (carefully),” said Pospisil, who won the 2014 Wimbledon doubles title with Jack Sock. “As you get older, you figure those things out better.”

Pospisil, who is helping Novak Djokovic start a new association for men’s tennis players, can get to the second Grand Slam singles quarterfinal of his career by beating No. 21 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia next.

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.