Veteran players Tsonga, Simon receive French Open wild cards

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PARIS – Veteran French players Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gilles Simon have been handed wild cards to play in the main draw at the French Open.

A former Australian Open runner-up, Tsonga announced earlier this season that he will retire after the clay-court Grand Slam event. Play begins at Roland Garros on May 22.

Simon said he is retiring at the end of the season after 20 years of playing professional tennis.

Tsonga and Simon are both 37 years old and helped France win the Davis Cup in 2017.

Tsonga reached the semifinals twice at the French Open, in 2013 and 2015. He has won 18 ATP titles and made it to the Australian Open final in 2008, losing to Novak Djokovic.

Tsonga reached a career-high ranking of No. 5 in 2012 but has dropped to No. 263 following his latest lengthy injury layoff. Simon has 14 career titles and a best ranking of sixth in 2009. He is ranked 160th.

“We wanted them to live their final Roland Garros in the main draw, in front of their fans,” tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said. “And also to thank them for what they have done throughout their career.”

The 12 wild card entries for the main draw announced Tuesday were allocated to French players. In addition to Tsonga and Simon, the French tennis federation said Lucas Pouille, Corentin Moutet, Manuel Guinard and Gregoire Barrere were also invited to play at Roland Garros.

In the women’s draw, the wild cards were awarded to Tessah Andrianjafitrimo, Fiona Ferro, Elsa Jacquemot, Leolia Jeanjean, Chloe Paquet and Harmony Tan.

On Monday, Katie Volynets and Michael Mmoh earned the U.S. Tennis Association’s wild-card entries. The USTA and French tennis federation offer reciprocal wild-card invitations for each other’s Grand Slam events.

The French federation has a similar agreement with Tennis Australia. The two wilds-card entries granted to Australian players have yet to be announced.

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.