Collins beats Mertens, returns to Australian Open quarters

Taya Gray/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

MELBOURNE, Australia – Danielle Collins is back in the Australian Open quarterfinals after a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 comeback win over No. 19-seeded Elise Mertens in a match lasting almost three hours in temperatures in the low 30s Celsius (90s Fahrenheit) on Rod Laver Arena.

It was the first time Collins has rallied from a set down to win back-to-back matches at a Grand Slam tournament.

The 28-year-old American also dropped the first set in her third-round win over Clara Tauson.

The No. 27 seed was a semifinalist at the 2019 Australian Open, which remains her best run at a major.

A win over either two-time major winner Simona Halep or French veteran Alize Cornet in the next round would get Collins back into the last four.

“Today it was really physically tough for me,” Collins said. “I played a long match the other day – 2 1/2 hours – and then I played doubles, so I spent about five hours on court.

“I had to make a lot of technical adjustments to make myself comfortable moving around, especially serving.”

Collins was aggressive with her ground strokes, hitting 45 winners and and making 41 errors against Mertens. She converted five of her 18 break-point chances and clinched the victory when Mertens, a semifinalist in Australia in 2018, served a double-fault.

In fourth-round men’s matches later Monday, U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev was playing Maxime Cressy, fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas was scheduled to play No. 20 Taylor Fritz and 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic was against ninth-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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.