Serena Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, to work with Simona Halep

Getty Images
2 Comments

Serena Williams’ coach for a decade, Patrick Mouratoglou, is going to work with another Grand Slam champion and former No. 1, Simona Halep.

Mouratoglou announced his partnership with Halep via social media, creating a formidable pairing – and raising questions what this means for the future of Williams as a player.

The owner of 23 major singles titles, a record for the professional era, Williams has not competed anywhere since hurting her right hamstring in a first-round match at Wimbledon in late June last year.

“Today I am starting a new chapter in my coaching career: I am now the full-time coach of Simona Halep. In the last 8 months, I realized how much I missed coaching,” Mouratoglou wrote. “It is the passion of my life, and I still feel like I have so much to give.”

Mouratoglou said Halep, a 30-year-old from Romania who won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, went to his tennis academy for a training block before last month’s tournament at Indian Wells, California.

He said he stopped by some of her practice sessions to watch.

“At the end of the week, she asked me if I was available to coach her. I have the highest respect for her, but it was out of the question at the time. A few weeks later, I had a conversation with Serena, and the door opened for me, at least short term, to work with someone else,” Mouratoglou said. “I will keep you updated on what’s coming next soon.”

Mouratoglou and Williams began working together shortly after she lost to Virginie Razzano in the first round of the 2012 French Open. That was the only opening-match exit for the American at any Grand Slam tournament until her injury-forced retirement in the first set on Centre Court against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on June 29.

Williams was 30 when Mouratoglou came aboard; she won 13 of her Grand Slam singles trophies before that and 10 since.

She will turn 41 in September and is currently ranked 246th because of her lack of action on tour.

Halep, who defeated Williams in the 2019 final at the All England Club, first reached the top ranking in 2017 and is now 20th.

Halep missed a chunk of last season because of a torn left calf. After reaching the semifinals at Indian Wells in March, she withdrew from the Miami Open because of a left thigh problem.

She announced in September she would no longer be coached by Darren Cahill after six years together.

“Excited for a new chapter,” Halep wrote on Twitter. “Let’s get to work @pmouratoglou.”

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.