Kevin Anderson, 2-time Grand Slam finalist, retires at 35

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson announced his retirement from professional tennis at 35.

The 6-foot-8 South African was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal at the U.S. Open in 2017 – No. 32 at the time, Anderson was the lowest-ranked finalist in tournament history – and to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon in 2018.

Anderson won seven ATP Tour singles titles, most recently at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island, last July. All of his trophies came on the speedier surfaces of grass or hard courts, which helped add oomph to his booming serves.

“Tennis carried me far beyond my roots in Johannesburg, South Africa, and truly gave me the world,” Anderson wrote on Twitter in posts about what he called a “difficult decision to retire.”

“I’ve experienced so many different challenges and emotions; this sport can be exhilarating and at the same time lonely,” he said.

Anderson played college tennis at Illinois, where he won the 2006 NCAA men’s doubles championship and was an All-American for three seasons. In 2007, he helped Illinois to a runner-up finish as a team.

After turning pro that year, Anderson claimed his first tour-level title at home in Johannesburg in 2011.

Anderson reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in 2018, after his run to the title match at the All England Club.

That included a 13-11 fifth-set victory over 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in the quarterfinals after facing a match point, and a 26-24 fifth-set victory over John Isner in the semifinals, before the loss to 20-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic.

That match against Isner served as the tipping point for the sport’s four major tournaments to discuss adding tiebreakers for the final set – and all four announced this year they now will play tiebreakers at 6-all in the deciding set (third for women, fifth for men) from now on.

Anderson, who will turn 36 on May 18, is 1-5 in 2022 and is ranked 107th this week. Elbow injuries limited him to 15 matches in 2019.

He has not competed since a three-set loss in his opening main-draw match at the Miami Open against Juan Manuel Cerundolo in March.

Anderson has been an advocate for reducing plastic use on the tennis tours and his charitable efforts earned him the 2019 Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award.

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.