Alexander Zverev criticizes ATP Tour over late-night matches

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MADRID — Alexander Zverev criticized the ATP Tour for its scheduling of late-night matches and said he was at a disadvantage against Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open final.

The third-ranked Zverev was overpowered by the 19-year-old Spaniard in straight sets.

Zverev conceded that he probably would have lost to Alcaraz even if he was “fresh,” but said that at least it would have been a “better final” if he hadn’t had to go to bed after 4 a.m. local time in the previous nights.

He said it’s a problem that has been happening on a weekly basis and he was getting “tired of it,” adding that the tour needs to do better to avoid being unfair with players.

“The ATP’s job was an absolute disgrace this week,” Zverev said. “To play a final against Carlos Alcaraz, who for me is the best player in the world right now, in a Masters 1000 event … it is difficult. I had no coordination today. I had no coordination on my serve, I had no coordination on my groundstrokes. I missed two overheads that were super easy because I see the ball and everything is moving in my eyes.”

He said that during the warmup he already knew he would struggle.

“I was a little bit late all of the time. My first step was not so quick,” Zverev said. “If you are playing the best players in the world, you have to be at your top. Otherwise you will have no chance. Today I had no chance.”

Zverev started the semifinal match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at about 11 p.m. local time and the three-set match ended after 1 a.m. He returned to the “Caja Magica” center court after the match to practice his service for a few minutes, then had to work with his physios and eat before getting back to the hotel.

“I think all of us have stayed up late, all of us maybe partied sometimes, but if you are staying up until 4 a.m., the next day you are dead,” he said. “I played the next day. If you’re doing it again, the next day until 5 a.m., you will have a difficult time to be even awake.”

Zverev also played in the night session against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarterfinals, when he won in two sets.

“I don’t want to take anything away (from Carlos),” Zverev said. “I feel sad for the final that we played, because this could have been a very good match. This could have been a great match.”

The regular scheduling of high-profile late matches has been a major source of frustration for the German player.

“It’s quite upsetting because it takes away a great match. It takes away the sport of tennis. Everybody wanted to see a great fight. Everybody wanted to see some high-level tennis. But I’m also human. I’m not a robot,” Zverev said. “I can’t. I simply I cannot be on my level when this is happening every single night.”

Zverev also had to play late in Acapulco earlier this year.

“The chances are being taken away from me,” he said. “At the end of the day, everybody forgets about those things. Nobody talks about it, you know. Everybody says, `Yeah, it was a bad match, I made double faults, I didn’t play well’ and all of that. But look at what is happening the days before. Look at what is actually happening behind the scenes, as well. It’s not quite fair, I think.”

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.