Gauff beats Wang for 2nd career title and 1st on clay

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PARMA, Italy — American teenager Coco Gauff stormed to her second career singles title as she comfortably dispatched Wang Qiang 6-1, 6-3 at the Emilia-Romagna Open in her first clay-court final.

The 17-year-old Gauff also won the doubles title with Caty McNally, becoming the youngest player to complete the singles/doubles sweep in nearly 17 years, since Maria Sharapova won both titles in Birmingham in 2004. That was just 92 days after Gauff was born.

“I feel like all week I was just thinking about it (winning both), especially when we got to the semifinals and you’re thinking about it, and you’re like it would be pretty cool to win both the singles and doubles titles. And I’m happy I was able to do that today,” Gauff said.

Gauff and McNally beat Darija Jurak and Andreja Klepac 6-3, 6-2.

In the singles final, Gauff needed just 74 minutes to beat her Chinese opponent in Parma.

She won more than three-quarters of her first-service points and fended off each of the four break points she faced against the 48th-ranked Wang.

Gauff, who reached her first semifinals on clay at the Italian Open last week, dropped just one set in Parma en route to victory. She is gearing up for the French Open, which starts May 30.

“It means a lot, especially on clay which is not really I feel like a surface that people associate me with,” Gauff said, before adding with a laugh: “It feels good, I like the dirt now. I always talk about it how I don’t like it but I like it now.”

Gauff has won 20 of her last 26 matches on tour. In contrast, she won 21 matches in the whole of 2019 and 2020 combined.

Gauff won her only previous final in Lienz, Austria, in 2019.

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.