DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Cameron Norrie’s year started off slowly, with four consecutive losses.
He seems to have found his stride.
Norrie won the third ATP Tour title of his career, the No. 1 seed beating second-seeded Reilly Opelka 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4) in the Delray Beach Open. All three of those titles for Norrie have come in the last seven months, after he won at Los Cabos in July and then Indian Wells in October.
Norrie – who was only 2-5 in 2022 entering this tournament – also had to do it the hard way against the huge-hitting Opelka, who piled up 25 aces. Opelka had won 14 of his last 17 tiebreakers, but Norrie managed to win two of them.
Norrie had played Delray on three other occasions, and each return has gone a bit better than the last. He dropped a first-round match in his initial appearance there in 2018, made the round of 16 in 2020, went to the semifinals last year and now is the Delray champion.
It was Opelka’s first loss in his last nine matches at Delray. He was the 2020 champion there.
Opelka was playing for a fourth consecutive day, after spending 7 hours, 23 minutes on the court in his three matches – all of them three-setters, six of those nine sets going to tiebreakers – leading up to the final.
Norrie had a much easier route to the final, needing only 5 hours, 3 minutes to win his three matches to get to Sunday. He also had an off day in there, not playing on Thursday. The round of 16 for the bottom half of the draw – Opelka’s half – was Thursday, while for Norrie’s half it was on Wednesday. Quarterfinals for all players were Friday, with semifinals Saturday and then Sunday’s final.
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.
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.