Cilic overcomes Dzumhur at Kremlin Cup in match of ex-champs

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MOSCOW — Marin Cilic began his bid for a third Kremlin Cup trophy by beating another former champion Damir Dzumhur 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-1.

Cilic ended a three-match losing streak. He won in Moscow in 2014 and 2015.

Dzumhur won here in 2017. But this weekend he came through qualifying to play his first main draw match on tour since July.

Cilic earned his 19th tour-level title on Stuttgart grass in June and, at No. 6, was the only men’s seed in action on Monday. The leading seeds were all locals; Andry Rublev, champion of the last Kremlin Cup in 2019, Aslan Karatsev, and Karen Khachanov, the 2018 champ.

On the women’s side, Alja Tomljanovic of Australia spoiled the main draw debut of Liudmila Samsonova in her home event by winning 6-2, 6-4.

Tomljanovic set up a second-round match with top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, who received a wild card to play her first tournament since reaching the U.S. Open semifinals.

The Aussie has a win over Sabalenka in her past and brings some form to their fifth career matchup after downing Garbine Muguruza last week at Indian Wells. Muguruza is at the other end of the draw this week as the second seed.

Former champion and regular threat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had a bye as one of the top four seeds, and learned her second-round match will be against Bernarda Pera, the American who defeated Aliaksandra Krunic of Serbia 7-6 (3), 6-3.

Another Russian, Anna Kalinskaya, beat Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 7-6 (5), 6-4 and will meet fifth-seeded Maria Sakkari for the first time.

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.