Medvedev wins with underarm serve at ATP Finals

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LONDON — Daniil Medvedev is enjoying the ATP Finals a lot better in his second appearance.

Medvedev secured a spot in the semifinals of the season-ending tournament by dominating five-time champion Novak Djokovic 6-3, 6-3 Wednesday for his second straight win of the group stage.

Medvedev, who lost all three of his group matches last year on his tournament debut, has now beaten Djokovic in three of their last four meetings. The top-ranked Serb can still advance if he beats 2018 champion Alexander Zverev in a winner-takes-all match on Friday.

Zverev kept his tournament hopes alive with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Diego Schwartzman earlier Wednesday.

Medvedev broke Djokovic three straight times to go from 3-3 in the first set to a 3-0 lead in the second. The first break came after a marathon game when the Russian finally converted his third break point when Djokovic missed a forehand after a long rally.

Djokovic then double-faulted on set point and never looked likely to stage a comeback in the second. Medvedev saved the only break point he faced at 2-0 and then secured the victory with a forehand winner on his first match point.

“I was serving good and playing safe enough in the most important moments,” Medvedev said. “That is why I got the win.”

Zverev, coming off what he had described as one of his worst matches of the season in his opening loss to Medvedev on Monday, led 3-1 in the second set before his Argentine opponent battled back with two breaks.

A visibly frustrated Zverev fired a ball into the empty stands after losing the second set.

The 23-year-old German recovered and broke Schwartzman twice in the third set. Schwartzman, who struggled with unforced errors, sent a forehand into the net to end the match.

The decisive Zverev-Djokovic match on Friday will be a rematch of the final from two years ago when the German won in straight sets.

“I’m happy to give myself a chance to go to the semifinals,” Zverev said. “I need to win every match, otherwise I’m out, so I’ve got to go in with that mindset. I went to that mindset today, and I did my job.”

Schwartzman broke early in the first set, but like in Monday’s loss to Djokovic he immediately gave it back. Zverev broke again for a 4-2 lead thanks to Schwartzman’s unforced errors.

On Thursday, Rafael Nadal will play Stefanos Tsitsipas with a semifinal place at stake.

Nadal has lost to Tsitsipas just once in six meetings – at the 2019 Madrid Open. He beat Tsitsipas here last year in the round robin before the 22-year-old Greek went on to win the title.

Nadal has never won the ATP Finals.

Also Thursday, Dominic Thiem, who has already qualified for the semifinals, faces Andrey Rublev. The Russian is 0-2 and can’t advance.

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.