Unseeded players Evans and Ruud reach Monte Carlo semifinals

Getty Images
3 Comments

MONACO — A day after knocking out top-ranked Novak Djokovic, unseeded Dan Evans beat 11th-seeded David Goffin 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals on Friday.

The British player will contest the first Masters semifinal of his career against fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, a French Open semifinalist last year. The big-serving Greek led 7-5 against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina when the unseeded Spaniard abandoned with a thigh injury.

Later Friday, 11-time champion Rafael Nadal faced sixth-seeded Andrey Rublev in overcast and chilly conditions.

In the day’s first match, Evans led 5-3 but Goffin won the next four games to take the first set. However, the Belgian could not get a grip on a contest where he converted just two of his 17 break points, and his double-fault gave Evans the second set.

Goffin shouted at himself after wasting three break points in the opening game of the decider, but then did even worse when he blew four break points at 4-4.

Having been let off the hook once more, Evans sensed victory and took it on his first match point when Goffin’s forehand went wide.

“It wasn’t easy after the match yesterday, I felt really tired afterwards. To get back and focus, it was difficult,” said Evans, who has only one career title. “I am proud of how I came back today, especially with what happened in the first set. I felt (my) concentration wasn’t great and I am really happy coming through.”

Sunday’s final could even feature two unseeded players, with Norwegian Casper Ruud knocking out 2019 champion Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3.

Ruud next faces either Nadal or Rublev at the clay-court tournament, which was canceled last year because of the coronavirus.

Unseeded Parks beats top-seeded Garcia for her 1st title

Getty Images
0 Comments

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

Getty Images
0 Comments

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.