Alcaraz and Schwartzman to play Rio Open final

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RIO DE JANEIRO — Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz will meet in the final of the Rio Open clay-court tournament.

The third-seeded Schwartzman beat countryman Francisco Cerundolo. Eighteen-year-old and seventh-seeded Alcaraz eliminated Italy’s Fabio Fognini.

Schwartzman, ranked No. 14, beat Cerundolo 7-6 (4), 6-3. He lifted the title in Rio de Janeiro in 2018.

Alcaraz, No. 29 and playing for the second title in his professional career, beat Fognini 6-2, 7-5.

Fitness will definitely be an element of the final. Both players played their quarterfinals and semifinals on Saturday due to heavy rain falling in Rio during the week.

Schwartzman initially put his presence in the semifinal in doubt after playing for more than 3 hours and 30 minutes to overcome Spain’s Pablo Andujar in the quarterfinals Saturday afternoon.

“To play in Brazil and feel this support, it is spectacular for an Argentinian,” Schwartzman said after reaching the final. “We made a huge effort to play this match.”

But fans sounded more excited about Alcaraz, who won his first professional title last year in Umag, also on clay. Earlier, the Spaniard shocked top-seeded Matteo Berrettini of Italy, No. 6 in the rankings, which gave him more support among Brazilian fans.

“To play two matches on the same day, and two tough matches…. I have surprised myself,” Alcaraz said after the encounter, adding he expects a hard-fought final against Schwartzman.

“He is a fighter, this will be a tough final,” Alcaraz said.

Alycia Parks reaches 1st WTA quarterfinal in Ostrava

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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

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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.