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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, October 6, 2022

 
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American qualifiers and doubles partners Alycia Parks and Caty McNally each scored three-set singles wins to reach the last eight in Ostrava.

Photo credit: Getty

Sometimes the most amazing journeys are of accidental origins.

Qualifier Alycia Parks was still dreaming of her first WTA main-draw hard-court win when she nearly missed her flight to Ostrava.

Watch: Moutet and Andreev Nearly Come to Blows

Today, the 144th-ranked Parks continued her career-best ascent landing her biggest win.

Parks pumped 15 aces toppling fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 battling into her first WTA quarterfinal with her first career Top 10 win.



Riding a lighting serve and some laser returns down the line, Parks has scored four singles wins in Ostrava this week and has often dictated play on the low-bouncing hard court at crunch time.

"I came out here not expecting anything, just playing my game, and it got me through the match," Parks said. "I was coming from Parma last week, and everyone said, how are you going to switch surfaces like that?

"But surfaces don't really affect me. Indoor hard is my strength."




It was a day American qualifier continued inspired flights.

World No. 151 Caty McNally, Parks' doubles partner in Ostrava this week, rallied from a break down in the final set soaring through six straight games to seal a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Czech Karolina Muchova.

McNally joined Parks as one of two Americans into the last eight. The pair have also reached the doubles quarterfinals together.

Tennis Express

Asked if it was a week for Americans, McNally replied "you could say so considering yesterday [Alycia] told me during doubles she almost didn't make her flight here."

The partners have pushed each other to new heights.

"So it's crazy how life works and I think it's just extra motivation when I see her going out there beating the fourth seed," McNally said of Parks. "It just shows why can't I do that. It's inspiring definitely. It's really awesome to see two Americans in the quarterfinals."

Facing a reality check down a break in the decider, an assertive McNally vowed to take the net away from Muchova and take the first strike.

It's one thing devising a plan, it's an entirely different challenge executing it. McNally did it masterfully.

"I have a lot of respect for Karolina, she's a great player, and I think our game styles are pretty similar," McNally said of former Australian Open semifinalist Muchova. "So I knew I was going to have to be super aggressive today and try to get the first strike and come into the net as much as possible.

"And I'm really happy with the way I performed, with the way I just kept competing when I got down a break in the third I just put my head down and went back to work."




The win sends McNally into her second quarterfinal of the season.

The 20-year-old McNally has won three of four main-draw sets by identical 6-1 scores.

Next up for McNally is a quarterfinal clash vs. world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, playing her first event since she captured her second Grand Slam title of the season at the US Open.

"I'm looking forward to it," McNally said.



One round after Parks pounded out a 6-0, 7-6(3) win over 19th-ranked Karolina Pliskova to register her first career Top 20 triumph, she dug deep to edge the seventh-ranked Greek.

One of the most impressive elements of Parks' breakout run this week has been her guts under pressure. When things got tight in the second set vs. Pliskova or in the latter stages of all three sets today, Parks did not flinch and continued to attack the ball and go for her shots.

Parks broke in the final games of the second and third sets to upset the 2021 finalist and reinforce her growing reputation as an explosive threat.

On match point, Parks stepped up and lashed a forehand down the line that laced the sideline. Sakkari challenged the call. Parks stood for a dramatic moment waiting for replay to confirm the ball had split the sideline punctuating her first Top 10 win with a piercing strike.

Parks will try to continue this wondrous journey when she faces 2021 Roland Garros singles and doubles champion Barbora Krejcikova.

The 23rd-ranked Czech took a walkover into her second straight quarterfinal as sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic withdrew.

Empowered by her run to the Tallinn title last weekend, Krejcikova rides a six-match winning streak into tomorrow's quarterfinals.

 

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