Kvitova, Garcia advance to Cincinnati women’s final

Western & Southern Open - Day 8
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MASON, Ohio — Petra Kvitova outlasted Madison Keys 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-3 to reach the Western & Southern Open final.

The 32-year-old Kvitova had never advanced to the semifinals in 10 prior appearances in the Cincinnati tournament. It is Czech’s 40th career final, and she’ll face another surprise entrant in Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, the first qualifier to reach the final in Cincinnati.

“That’s nice to have this experience, even in my age,” Kvitova said, smiling. “In my career, I had many, many finals, but never here. It feels different because it’s for the first time in Cincinnati.”

Kvitova almost didn’t make it out of the first round, having to save a match point against last year’s finalist, Jil Teichmann. She also needed three sets to beat fifth-ranked Ons Jabeur in the third round.

“It’s like a second chance that you are almost gone and now you are still here and playing in the (final),” Kvitova said.

Keys, the 2019 champion in Cincinnati, defeated three grand slam winners this week, but couldn’t close out Kvitova.

The 28-year-old Garcia won her seventh straight match, beating sixth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

There were two rain stoppages during the match, totaling four hours. Garcia took the first set, but following an almost 2 1/2-hour delay, Sabalenka forced a third set.

The second rain delay came with Garcia leading 3-1 in the third. But once play resumed, she made quick work of the Belarusian, winning three straight games to become the first qualifier to reach the finals in a WTA 1000 event.

“No one expected it, that’s for sure,” Garcia said. “It’s a long way to come from (qualifiers). It’s one match at a time. Try to take the best from every match and improve through the tournament.”

It will be the ninth meeting between Kvitova and Garcia, with Kvitova winning five, including two straight wins in Miami and Madrid.

“She’s a great champion,” Garcia said. “You have to play faster and move better on court against a player like this. It’s a great challenge for me to play against Petra.”

Croatia advances in Davis Cup as Coric beats Thiem

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Borna Coric beat 2020 U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Sunday to send Croatia into the group stage of the Davis Cup.

Coric helped the Croatians win their second Davis Cup title in 2018, but he was sidelined when they lost in the 2021 final while missing a year of action with a right shoulder injury.

He returned to the tour last March, winning a Masters 1000 title in August in Cincinnati, Ohio, and rejoined the Croatians when they reached the Davis Cup semifinals last year.

His victory over Thiem, who has also dealt with injuries in recent years, gave Croatia a 3-1 victory in Rijeka. The Austrians had taken the tie against the No. 1 team in the Davis Cup rankings to a fourth match when Alexander Erler and Lucas Miedler beat Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic 6-3, 7-6 (11) in the doubles match earlier Sunday.

Chile, Finland, the Netherlands, South Korea and the Czech Republic also completed victories Sunday to secure their places in the next round, which will be played in September.

On Saturday, the U.S. completed a sweep of Uzbekistan, while Serbia, France, Britain, Switzerland and Sweden also finished off victories. Those 12 countries will play in the group stage, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will then advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In Sunday’s other matches:

– Finland 3, Argentina 1: On indoor hard courts in Espoo, Finland, Harri Heliovaara and Emil Ruusuvuori edged Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4, before Ruusuvuori secured the winning point and a personal 3-0 weekend by beating Facundo Bagnis 7-5, 6-1.

– Netherlands 4, Slovakia 0: On indoor hard courts in Groningen, Matwe Middelkoop and Wesley Koolhof sent the hosts through with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Alex Molcan and Lukas Klein. Middelkoop then beat Jozef Kovalik 6-4, 6-4.

– South Korea 3, Belgium 2: On indoor hard courts in Seoul, the hosts rallied from a 2-0 deficit after the first day. Min-Kyu Song and Ji Sung Nam kept them alive with a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) victory over Joran Vliegen and Sander Gille. Soonwoo Kwon then beat David Goffin 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 before Seong Chan Hong completed the comeback with a 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory over Zizou Bergs.

– Czech Republic 3, Portugal 1: On an indoor clay court in Maia, Portugal, Jiri Lehecka wrapped up the victory by beating Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-1.

– Chile 3, Kazakhstan 1: On an outdoor clay court in La Serena, Chile, Cristian Garin beat Alexander Bublik 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 after the hosts had taken the lead with a victory by the doubles team of Alejandro Tabilo and Tomas Barrios Vera.

Unseeded Parks beats top-seeded Garcia for her 1st title

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LYON, France — Unseeded American Alycia Parks secured a stunning 7-6 (7), 7-5 upset win over WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in the Open Metropole de Lyon final to clinch her first career title.

“I think France has a special part in my heart right now,” Parks said. “I’ll be back next year.”

The 22-year-old Parks, who is ranked 79th, had 15 aces and saved all four break points against the top-seeded Garcia.

Parks secured the only break of a tight contest to win the match.

The fifth-ranked Garcia, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year, was seeking a 12th career title.

“Congrats on a great tournament,” Garcia told Parks in English. “If you keep playing like this for sure you’re going to keep going up (the rankings).”

Parks has a career-best ranking of 75th.

The 29-year-old Garcia, who grew up in Lyon, took time to thank her home crowd – this time in French.

“It means a lot to play here, thanks for being here,” Garcia said. “You supported me from the first point to the last. Thanks for all your encouragement.”