Kenin reaches fourth round at French Open by beating Pegula

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PARIS — Sofia Kenin advanced to the fourth round of the French Open for the third consecutive year by winning a seesaw match on Saturday against Jessica Pegula, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in a battle of Americans.

Kenin is the highest-seeded player left in the women’s draw at No. 4, and she has shaken a slump with her return to Roland Garros, where she was the runner-up to Iga Swiatek in October.

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic didn’t face a break point en route to a 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 victory over unseeded Ricardas Berankis.

The No. 28-seeded Pegula rallied from a 0-3 start to win the first set, but Kenin began stepping into the court to take charge of rallies, especially with a backhand that produced two dozen winners. She hit 48 winners to 18 for Pegula.

“I’m proud of myself for just fighting out there and battling out,” Kenin said.

Kenin had 10 double faults and was broken five times but held in her final four service games to close out the win. The 2020 Australian Open champion, who was sidelined by an appendectomy in February, improved to 10-8 this year.

American Sloane Stephens, who is ranked 59th and is out of the top 50 for the first time since 2017, advanced by beating 18th-seeded Karolina Muchova 6-3, 7-5. Stephens, the runner-up in 2018, will next face Barbora Krejcikova, who upset fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-2.

Djokovic advanced to the round of 16 at the French Open for the 12th consecutive year and said he made necessary adjustments on a cool, cloudy afternoon.

“Maybe for those watching it looked simple, but it wasn’t,” he told the crowd in French. “The conditions were different. How do you say in French … the bounce was lower. I think I coped well.”

Djokovic next faces 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti, who rallied to win an all-Italian matchup against Marco Cecchinato, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Musetti is playing in his first Grand Slam tournament.

Jan-Lennard Struff, a 31-year-old German, matched his best Grand Slam effort by advancing to the fourth round when he beat 18-year-old qualifier Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-2. No. 10 Diego Schwartzman eliminated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-2, 6-1.

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.