Top-seeded Rublev, Ruud reach San Diego Open semifinals

Getty Images
1 Comment

SAN DIEGO — The top two seeds, Andrey Rublev of Russia and Casper Ruud of Norway, have reached the semifinals of the inaugural San Diego Open.

Rublev, who ended the hopes of San Diego native Brandon Nakashima, kept up his strong form and beat sixth-seeded Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 7-5.

Ruud reached the first tour-level hard court semifinal in his career with a routine 6-1, 6-4 victory over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.

Rublev also beat Schwartzman in the recent Laver Cup.

“The match against him at the Laver Cup helped me a lot because we hadn’t played for a really, really long time and I didn’t know what he was doing on court,” Rublev said. “The match at Laver Cup gave me confidence and also let me know how I needed to play today.”

The Russian set up a showdown against Cameron Norrie of Britain, who scored his second straight upset win over a seeded player this week, defeating No. 4 Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-3, 6-1.

Ruud said his match “was closer than it may have seemed, but the key moments and important points went my way today. The three times I broke him, the games were close and at 4-3 in the second I got into a little bit of trouble on my serve but I was able to serve out a close game.

“This is my first semifinal on hard court after reaching the quarters in Toronto and Cincinnati, so it’s another important step in my career. It gives me confidence for tomorrow and the belief that I can beat good players on this surface.”

Ruud will face Grigor Dimitrov, after the unseeded Bulgarian outlasted Aslan Karatsev 6-1, 1-6, 6-2 in the quarterfinal nightcap.

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
0 Comments

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.