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Isner ousts Kudla at US clay court championships

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HOUSTON (AP) Top-seeded John Isner had a two-set tournament-record 24 aces to knock out fellow American Denis Kudla 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) in the second round of the U.S. men’s clay court championships on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old Isner, ranked 15th in the world, had 12 aces in each set and was never pushed despite failing to break Kudla’s serve in the match.

Earlier this year, he had 49 aces in a Davis Cup victory over Australia’s Bernard Tomic, when he unleashed a serve clocked at an unofficial record 157 mph.

Isner lost only four of his 46 first-serve points.

“Too good,” the 5-foot-11 Kudla said, shaking his head. “I tried everything. … His serve is a joke. “Some guys can handle it. But I’m not one of the taller guys. It’s just enough out of my strike zone for me to do anything about it when he’s serving like that.”

In the day’s final match, South Korea’s Hyeon Chung, 19, defeated 18-year-old American Tommy Paul 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 to become the third teenager since the tournament moved to Houston in 2001 to advance to the quarterfinals.

The first, Andy Roddick, did it in 2001 and 2002 and went on to win the championship both years. Ryan Harrison was the other in 2012.

Chung made it difficult on himself, though. He was a point from taking the first set and let it slip away. But he gave Paul, the French Open junior champion in 2015, no further openings and advanced to his second ATP World Tour quarterfinal.

Juan Monaco, the tournament’s 2012 champion who has been bothered by wrist problems, fell out of the top 100 three weeks ago – all the way to 148th – for the first time in nearly a decade and had only three match victories this year before arriving in Houston.

But he looked more like his old self again in a 6-3, 7-5 victory over the second-seeded Benoit Paire of France.

Also, Sam Querrey earned an easy 6-3, 6-3 victory over Germany’s Benjamin Becker for his 13th match win in the tournament, the most of any player in the draw. Querrey is through to the quarterfinals for the fourth time and he has been the clay courts runner-up twice.

Stan Wawrinka advances to Australian Open semifinals

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U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka is through to the Australian Open semifinals after beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena.

Wawrinka will play the winner of the night quarterfinal between Roger Federer and Mischa Zverev.

It was Wawrinka’s fourth win in a row over Tsonga and the first meeting between the pair at a Grand Slam other than the French Open, where they had met three times, with Wawrinka holding a 2-1 edge.

It was also the pair’s first meeting on a hardcourt in nearly 10 years — at Metz, France in 2007, when Tsonga won.

Venus Williams sets Australian record with run to semifinals

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Age appears to be no barrier for Venus Williams.

The 36-year-old Williams beat No. 24-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Tuesday, becoming the oldest player to reach the Australian Open women’s semifinals in the Open era.

Her 50th career win at Melbourne Park earned her a spot in the last four for the first time in 14 years.

“It’s wonderful to start the year out with this appearance,” said Williams, who hadn’t reached the semifinals here since 2003, the year she lost the final to her sister, Serena. “I want to go further. I’m not happy just with this. But I’m so happy to be in the position to like go further.”

She will next play CoCo Vandeweghe, who is in the Australian Open semifinals for the first time.

I’m just so excited that I have an opportunity to play again,” Williams said. “That’s all I’m focused on.”

Williams dropped four service games against Pavlyuchenkova, but she responded each time by breaking back. In the tiebreaker, she trailed 3-1 before winning the last six points – clinching the match on Pavlyuchenkova’s double-fault.

The seven-time major winner has advanced through the tournament without dropping a set, recovering from a right elbow injury that forced her to withdraw from a warmup tournament in New Zealand.

Now she is into semifinals for the second time in three majors – after a six-year absence from the last four – and for the 21st time overall.

With her run to the Wimbledon semifinals last year, Williams became the oldest woman since Martina Navratilova in 1994 to advance so far at a major. Navratilova was 37, years 258 days at the end of Wimbledon that year.

The record belongs to Billie Jean King, who was 39 years, 223 days when she reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 1983.