Muguruza beats Mertens in Dubai to reach 3rd final of 2021

Getty Images
1 Comment

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Garbine Muguruza reached her third final of the season after needing seven match points to beat Elise Mertens 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the semifinals of the Dubai Championships.

Muguruza will play Barbora Krejcikova in the final as the Spanish player seeks her first title since April 2019. She lost the Qatar Open final last week to Petra Kvitova and the Yarra Valley Classic final last month to Ash Barty.

Mertens saved three match points in her quarterfinal win over Jessica Pegula and briefly looked on course for a similar escape against Muguruza.

Muguruza served for the match at 5-3 up in the second set but Mertens saved match point and broke Muguruza’s serve. Mertens then saved three more match points in the next game and two in the tiebreak. By the time Muguruza finally secured the win, nearly half an hour had passed since her first match point.

“She’s a very talented player, always gives you an extra ball back,” Muguruza said of Mertens. “Even if I was 5-3 up and had match points I didn’t lose the focus.”

Czech doubles specialist Krejcikova reached her second career singles final with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Swiss player Jil Teichmann. Krejcikova has won five Grand Slam titles in doubles, most recently her third consecutive Australian Open mixed doubles title last month. Her only WTA singles final was a 2017 loss to Kiki Bertens in Nuremburg.

Alycia Parks reaches 1st WTA quarterfinal in Ostrava

alycia parks
Robert Prange/Getty Images
1 Comment

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

novak djokovic
Nir Keidar/Getty Images

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.