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Venus Williams wins singles, loses doubles with Serena

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ROME (AP) Singles was the easy part for Venus Williams on Monday. The difficult part came with younger sister Serena in doubles.

After Venus comfortably beat CoCo Vandeweghe 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of the Italian Open, the Williams sisters lost to Andreja Klepac and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 6-1, 7-5.

It was the first time the sisters played doubles together since the 2014 U.S. Open. They are preparing for an attempt at a fourth Olympic gold medal in doubles in Rio de Janeiro.

“We didn’t play our best at the same time,” Venus said. “That’s not typical. Usually one of us is playing well. That helps the team a lot. Two of us are playing well, it usually goes our way.”

In other first-round matches, Sara Errani was slowed by physical problems in losing to Heather Watson of Britain 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, and Lucia Safarova of the Czech Republic defeated former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-2.

On a rough day for the home players even in the men’s tournament, Fabio Fognini of Italy was beaten by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-1, 7-6 (2).

Also, Milos Raonic overcame two breaks of his serve to get past Italian wild card Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Raonic will next face Nick Kyrgios, who eliminated Salvatore Caruso, another Italian wild card, 6-1, 6-2.

Seventh-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga withdrew due to a muscle problem and was replaced in the draw by fellow Frenchman Lucas Pouille. He doesn’t have much time to recover before the French Open, which begins in two weeks.

“It’s not something good to be a little bit injured before this event,” Tsonga said. “I hope I will have the chance to recover.”

The big four – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Rafael Nadal – are all entered.

Playing two matches in one day could have been particularly taxing for Venus, who has Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition that can cause joint pain and sap energy.

“I haven’t done that in a long time. But I knew what was going to happen going into it. Even if you get tired, you have to try to ignore it. I felt OK,” she said. “Hopefully I’ll have that problem for two weeks in the French. That would be an awesome problem to have.”

Venus won the singles title at the Foro Italico in 1999, and is playing this clay-court event for the 12th time.

“I imagine that on the clay I have a little bit more advantage, just having played more matches on clay,” 35-year-old Venus said after facing fellow American Vandeweghe for the first time. “That helped a lot.”

Top-ranked Serena has a first-round bye. A three-time Rome champion, she’ll open against 51st-ranked Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany on Tuesday.

Andrew Dampf on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/asdampf

John Isner advances to Atlanta Open quarterfinals

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ATLANTA — Second-seeded John Isner beat Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 6-3, 6-4 on Wednesday night in the 6-foot-10 former University of Georgia star’s opening match in the BB&T Atlanta Open.

Coming off a victory Sunday in the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, Rhode Island, Isner is seeking his fourth Atlanta title in five seasons. He lost to Nick Kyrgios in the final last year.

Isner set up a quarterfinal match at Atlantic Station against Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko, a 6-3, 6-1 winner over sixth-seeded Donald Young. The American has 11 career titles, all at the ATP World Tour 250 level.

Third-seeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg and Tommy Paul also reached the quarterfinals. Muller beat France’s Quentin Halys 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-3, and Paul topped Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3.

In the top half of the draw, top-seeded Jack Sock will open play Thursday with a second-round match against Israel’s Dudi Sela.

Top-seeded John Isner wins 3rd Hall of Fame title

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NEWPORT, R.I. — Top-seeded John Isner beat Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden 6-3, 7-6 (4) on Sunday for his third Hall of Fame Open title.

The hard-serving American also won the grass-court event in 2011 and 2012. He has 11th career titles, all at the ATP World Tour 250 level.

“It’s hard to win a tournament,” Isner said. “It’s no small feat to come out here and be the last man standing. I’m very happy about that. It’s been two years since I won a tournament, so I had that weighing on my mind.”

Isner became the second player to win an ATP title without facing a break point since records began in 1991. Tommy Haas also accomplished the feat in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2007.

“I’m very happy with how I played all week,” Isner said. “It was a perfect week and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Ebden was playing his first tour-level final.

“It’s a lot of reward for a lot of hard work, a lot of years of sacrifice,” Ebden said. “It’s disappointing, but at the same time I have to be happy with my week.”