Zverev edges Sinner in Monte Carlo classic to reach semis

Alexander Zverev
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MONACO — Alexander Zverev prevailed against Jannik Sinner 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (5) in a Monte Carlo Masters classic to reach the semifinals of the clay-court season opener.

Sinner overcame an early break to win the first set, and Zverev repaid the favor in the second. Zverev fought back twice from a break down in the third set and had to force the quarterfinal to a tiebreaker.

In a match with 10 service breaks, half of the tiebreaker points went against serve, and Zverev finally won after more than three hours when Sinner netted.

Second-seeded Zverev will meet defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinals on Saturday.

Tsitispas overcame Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-4. The fifth-ranked Greek breezed through the first set, but squandered a 5-2 lead in the second. He had to claw back from 4-0 down in the decider to serve out the match in just under three hours.

“I think I let go,” Tsitsipas said of the missed opportunity to win in straight sets.

“There was a moment in the match where I felt like what I was trying to do out on the court wasn’t really working. I wanted to stay as long as possible on court. I loosened up a little bit and focused on shot after shot … that worked out very well.”

Novak Djokovic’s conqueror, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain, knocked out Taylor Fritz of the U.S. 2-6, 6-4, 6-3. Davidovich Fokina broke the 10th seed at 3-3 in the decider to line up his first semifinal in a masters event with Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

“I am enjoying every point,” Davidovich Fokina said. “I stayed focused and believed in myself.”

Dimitrov edged Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2). The unseeded Bulgarian dropped two match points in the deciding set before taking it in a tiebreaker.

“I didn’t really want to focus much on if I’m going to win or lose, because it’s not always the best thing,” Dimitrov said. “I was seeing quite a few cracks in the way he was attacking the ball, especially in the tiebreak.”

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.