Rublev beats Auger-Aliassime to win Open 13 for 9th title

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MARSEILLE, France — Second-seeded Andrey Rublev beat No. 3 Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-5, 7-6 (4) to win the Open 13 tournament, clinching his ninth career title and first for almost a year.

Since winning in Rotterdam in March last year, Rublev had lost three finals. He improved to 5-0 in indoor finals and 9-5 overall, while Auger-Aliassime dropped to 1-9 in finals.

The 21-year-old Canadian arrived in southern France in top form after beating Rublev in the semifinals and then upsetting top-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-2 in the Rotterdam final last Sunday.

It was his first title after losing his previous eight finals.

He led 2-0 in the first set against Rublev and squandered a set point in the 12th game of the second set.

“All the battles I have had with Felix since the first time back in 2018 have had drama,” the 24-year-old Rublev said. “All have had at least one set that went 7-6 and now he is one of the greatest players. Especially this season, he is on top now.”

Auger-Aliassime led the serving contest 12-9 in aces but Rublev showed again why he is considered one of the best returners and retrievers on the tour.

He played the shot of the match in the fifth game of the first set, returning a smash close to his body and turning it into a two-handed backhand winner.

“I had to increase my level otherwise I would have had no chance against Felix,” Rublev said. “I was thinking it would go to three sets. But somehow I was able to raise my level and in the end it was tough.”

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.