The Story Of Párrizas Díaz Is One Of A Late Bloomer Whose Time Has Arrived

Nuria Párrizas Díaz (photo: Abierto GNP Seguros)

MONTERREY/WASHINGTON, March 5, 2022 (by Michael Dickens

The remarkable story of Nuria Párrizas Díaz is one of a late bloomer, who is reaping the rewards of patience and perseverance. It is said that good things come to those who are willing to wait – and the 30-year-old native of Granada, Spain, who played her first pro tournament in 2006, has more than paid her dues as a professional tennis player.

Párrizas Díaz has endured a lot – overcoming a major shoulder injury that nearly ended her career and playing without the benefit of having major sponsors to help defray the cost of being on tour. She enjoys her time on court and it’s plainly evident that she gives everything she has in each match and will go as long as her body is able to perform.

Friday, at the WTA 250 Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico, the 51st-ranked sixth seed reached her first WTA tour-level semifinal above the 125 level with a gritty 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 victory over fellow Spaniard and No. 4 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo, herself quite the competitor, which lasted three hours and two minutes. It was a tough afternoon for both players – at times, it was like a game of chess unfolding on Centre Court at Club Sonoma. When it was over, it was Párrizas Díaz who had survived and moved on. Next, she will play No. 5 seed Camila Osorio of Colombia, who upset top seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5). It will be Párrizas Díaz’s first tour-level semifinal experience.

In the other Monterrey semifinal, it will be defending champion and No. 2 seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada against No. 69 Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil.

Against Sorribes Tormo, Párrizas Díaz wrapped up the 65-minute opening set 6-3 on her fourth set-point opportunity with a backhand winner that capped a 20-point marathon in the ninth game. The Spaniard broke her opponent in three consecutive service games after trailing 3-1.

However, the never-say-die Sorribes Tormo rallied in the second set to win 6-1 and level the quarterfinal match as it reached the two-hour mark. She broke Párrizas Díaz in all four of her opponent’s service games as the service breaks and unforced errors began to pile up in each player’s ledger.

Soon, Sorribes Tormo was promptly broken in the first game of the decisive set and Párrizas Díaz consolidated the break for a 2-0 lead, which she increased to 3-1 before being broken in the sixth game to even the score at 3-all.

Párrizas Díaz wasn’t finished, though. She broke Sorribes Tormo for the sixth time in 13 attempts to push ahead 4-3, but couldn’t consolidate the break and was broken for a seventh time, which leveled the set – again – at 4-all. By now, what began as a chess match had evolved into a prize fight, in which each player – like a boxer – came out swinging and punching. Then, somehow, each gained new strength just when it seemed like things were hopeless.

Soon, Párrizas Díaz gained a 15-40 break-point advantage in the ninth game and won when Sorribes Tormo double faulted for the first time. So, as the match closed in on the end of its third hour, Párrizas Díaz found herself ahead 5-4 and serving for the match – and a berth in Saturday’s semifinal round.

Could Parrizas Diaz close out the win? Yes, but first, she would have to save a couple of lengthy break points from 15-40, which she did. With it, she let out a big roar of approval, too. Next, she saved a third one with a forehand winner, and a fourth one after Sorribes Tormo netted a backhand return.

Finally, Párrizas Díaz gained a match point of her own with a backhand winner that capped a 27-shot rally. Then, she won with a cross-court forehand winner. It was her 28th winner of the quarterfinal match and it resulted in Párrizas Díaz garnering the first Top 50 triumph of her career.

En route to reaching her fourth quarterfinal in the past 12 months and second of this year, Párrizas Díaz defeated Japan’s Misaki Doi, 6-2, 6-1, and 2016 Monterrey champion Heather Watson of Great Britain, 6-4, 7-6 (2).

Last year, Párrizas Díaz captured a pair of WTA 125 titles, first at Bastad, Sweden, then in Columbus, Ohio – her biggest crowns to date. Before that, she had been a frequent winner on the lower-rung ITF circuit and captured five ITF titles during the 2021 season alone, in a variety of world outposts such as: Potchefstroom, South Africa (twice); Mallorca, Spain; Grado, Italy, and Landisville, Pa., in the U.S. Her title victory in the $100K Tennis Challenge in Landisville over Belgium’s Greet Minnen in three sets elevated her into the Top 100 at No. 96. She finished 2021 ranked 65th after starting the year ranked 232nd.

Last month, Párrizas Díaz reached a career-high No. 47 in the WTA rankings after beginning the season 5-3 during the Australian Swing. This week, she’s gone 3-0 and dropped just one set after being eliminated in the first round last week in Guadalajara. Her victory over the 36th-ranked Sorribes Tormo represented the highest-ranked player she’s beaten this year.

Yastremska continues week of spirited performances in Lyon

Wild card Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine continued her week of spirited performances at the WTA 250 Open 6ème Sens – Métropole de Lyon indoor hard court tournament Friday to reach the semifinals.

The 21-year-old, 140th-ranked Yastremska defeated No. 5 seed Jasmine Paolini of Italy, ranked 48th, 6-4, 7-6 (3), in an hour and 41 minutes. It was Yastremska’s first win in four tries over the Italian after losing three straight last year in Portoroz, Slovenia; Courmayeur, Italy; and Linz, Austria.

“I feel so much support from everybody,” Yastremska said during her post-match on-court interview, in paying tribute to the Lyon fans who cheered for the Ukrainian inside Palais des Sports de Gerland. “Maybe in a tough moment I can hear and especially feel how people are supporting me here, and that’s another win for Ukraine.”

Later in press, Yastremska admitted: “With everything I’ve been through, I have to push myself and fight to the end. That’s what I was thinking about in the moments it was pretty tight, or when I felt really tired or a bit stressed.

“Every match I play here is nothing to lose. I’m giving everything I have. When I arrived here I was very tired, emotionally and mentally. So, now with every win I get those emotions and that energy back.”

Yastremska will face No. 2 seed Sorana Cirstea of Romania, the highest remaining seed in the draw, in Saturday’s semifinals. The 30th-ranked Cirstea advanced over No. 79 Anna Bondar of Hungary, 6-3, 6-3. The other semifinal will pair No. 74 Caroline Garcia of France against No. 8 seed Zhang Shuai of China, ranked 64th.

Serena Williams sits for Amanpour interview in Paris

Earlier this week, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams sat for a one-on-one interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in Paris, where the American tennis star was attending Paris Fashion Week festivities.

Among the topics that Williams discussed with Amanpour were: Her pursuit of Margaret Court’s career Grand Slam singles title record; telling her family’s story in the Oscar-nominated film “King Richard”; and the achievements of both her and older sister Venus.

FILA launches spring color palette at Indian Wells

FILA has partnered with designer Christopher Bevans to launch a new spring collection for FILA that will debut at next week’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. The guest designer has put together the Bevans Park Collection, which combines colors and motifs that are personal to the designer and his journey in fashion.

Noteworthy …

Andy Murray has reunited with Ivan Lendl, who helped coach the former World No. 1 Briton to three major titles. It is the third time that Murray and Lendl have collaborated.

According to reports, they will start working together after the Miami Open in Florida, where Lendl resides. Murray has already said he will skip the upcoming European clay season in order to prepare for the summer grass season in Great Britain.

• In his first match since being tossed out of last week’s Abierto Mexicano Tercel in Acapulco for unsportsmanlike conduct, World No. 3 Alexander Zverev beat Thiago Seyboth Wild, 6-4, 6-2, to give Germany a 1-0 lead over host Brazil in a Davis Cup qualifier on clay at Park Olimpico Arena Tenis in Rio de Janeiro. Later, Brazil evened the tie at 1-all after Thiago Monteiro defeated Jan-Lennard Struff, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.

Complete Davis Cup Qualifiers scores.

• Former World No. 1 Naomi Osaka and Nick Kyrgios shared a practice hit in Beverley Hills, Calif. Thursday in advance of next week’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Both the 80th-ranked Osaka and No. 134 Kyrgios received main draw wild cards in the the combined WTA/ATP 1000 event in the California palm desert.


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A post shared by Nick Kyrgios (@k1ngkyrg1os)

• Thursday was World Book Day and the WTA celebrated it by posting a photo Billie Jean King and Iga Swiatek together. Last year, King penned her autobiography All In that was a New York Times bestseller and Swiatek is an avid reader.

What they are sharing on social media

U.S. Davis Cup stars / Showing off their team colors

Kristie Ahn / Announces her retirement on Instagram

“Quotable …”

“It’s the Ukrainian blood of getting up in tough situations and being strong. I take the example of all Ukrainians and it’s my motivation to give it my all on the court.”

— No. 1 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, following her 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 second-round victory over Viktoriya Tomova of Bulgaria, Thursday evening at the WTA 250 Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico.