Djokovic loses cool, wins match against Fritz in Rome rain

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ROME — Top-ranked Novak Djokovic shouted at the umpire before regaining his cool to see out his rain-delayed second-round match against Taylor Fritz at the Italian Open.

With conditions worsening during the second set and rain getting heavier, the defending champion’s temper boiled over and he roared, “How much more do you want to play?” at the umpire. He added: “I asked you three times and you are not checking anything.”

Djokovic, who has won the Italian Open five times, went on to beat the American 6-3, 7-6 (5).

“I was stressed out in the end obviously, but I think it was the right call to stop the match,” Djokovic said. “When I came back, I thought we were quite even actually till the last point.

“I’m glad that I managed to finish off this match in straight sets. I know I can play better.”

Djokovic, back in action after sitting out the Masters tournament in Madrid, was leading by a set and a break but was unable to serve out at 5-4 in the second.

Play was then suspended for approximately three hours. Fritz held his service game after the resumption to force the tiebreaker, but Djokovic closed out the win on his first match point.

“It was a very strange match with strange conditions,” Djokovic said. “Obviously … it is challenging for both me and him.

“I thought that I had an advantage there because the conditions were slower which allows me to return his serves, because he’s got really big serves,” Djokovic continued. “So I kind of kept the match under my control for most part of the two sets, then served for the match. Very sloppy service game. He played well, made a great passing shot to come back.”

Last year, Djokovic was disqualified from the U.S. Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball.

Djokovic will next play a qualifier in either Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who upset 16th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 7-6 (2), or Cameron Norrie.

Daniil Medvedev’s scheduled showdown with fellow Russian Aslan Karatsev was among the matches postponed.

Earlier, ninth-seeded Matteo Berrettini rallied to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 – less than 48 hours after losing the final in Madrid. Fellow Italian Lorenzo Sonego also advanced, celebrating his birthday by beating 14th-seeded Gael Monfils 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

Kei Nishikori was handed a walkover in his second-round match against 11th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta. Eighth-seeded Diego Schwartzman was beaten 6-1, 6-3 by Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who moves into the third round.

In the women’s tournament, former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko ousted 16th-seeded Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-1 and Kristina Mladenovic upset 10th-seeded Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4.

Madison Keys rallied to win an all-American derby against Sloane Stephens 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Fans are being kept out of the Foro Italico during the early rounds of the tournament as part of restrictions during coronavirus pandemic, but the main arenas will be up to 25% filled from the round of 16.

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.