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Venus Williams leads American charge on Day 4 at Wimbledon

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LONDON —¬†Five-time champion Venus Williams led a group of Americans picking up victories at Wimbledon on Thursday as the tournament scrambled to get back on schedule after two days of bad weather.

With play starting earlier on the outside courts and the rain holding off, Williams was among nine American players winning first- or second-round matches at the All England Club.

U.S. men’s winners included John Isner, Sam Querrey, Donald Young, Jack Sock and Steve Johnson. Joining Williams among the women’s winners were Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Julia Boserup.

The 36-year-old Williams, the oldest player in the women’s draw, needed nearly 2 1/2 hours to get past 20-year-old Greek qualifier Maria Sakkari 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

It turned out to be an unexpectedly close match between Williams, winner of seven Grand Slam titles and playing in her 19th Wimbledon, and Sakkari, making her first appearance at Wimbledon and third at a major.

Williams last won Wimbledon in 2008, and she hasn’t gone past the fourth round since 2010.

Keys, seeded No. 9 after breaking into the top 10 for the first time this month, also reached the third round with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over Kirsten Flipkens. Keys, a quarterfinalist last year, had 48 winners – more than double the Belgian player’s 22.

Stephens, seeded No. 18, defeated China’s Peng Shuai 7-6 (5), 6-2 in a first-round match. Stephens reached the quarterfinals in 2013.

Boserup advanced when seventh-seeded Belinda Bencic retired with an injury with the American leading 6-4, 1-0.

The 28th-seeded Querrey advanced to a third-round men’s matchup against two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic by beating Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. The match had been suspended by rain Wednesday at 5-2 in the second set.

The 27th-seeded Sock beat Robin Haase 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-4. His third-round opponent will be sixth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic, who hit 25 aces in a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 win over Andreas Seppi.

The unseeded Johnson reached the third round for the first time after a 6-1, 7-6 (6), 6-3 win over Jerome Chardy.

In a first-round match extended over three days because of rain, the 18th-seeded Isner downed Marcos Baghdatis 7-6 (2), 7-6 (5), 6-2. Isner, who had 33 aces, has yet to advance past the third round at the All England Club.

“The long days in the locker room the last days were just brutal,” Isner said. “You can only play so much putt-putt in the locker room with your friends and what-not.”

Young, meanwhile, won his first match at Wimbledon after losing in the first round in his five previous appearances. Resuming at 2-1 in the fourth set, he beat Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.

In other men’s play, fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori came from behind to beat Julien Benneteau 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 on Centre Court; and No. 9 Marin Cilic needed four sets to beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4.

British player Dan Evans made it to the third round for the first time, beating 30th-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-1. Evans, who entered with a 0-3 career record at Wimbledon, will next face seven-time champion Roger Federer.

No. 13 David Ferrer, a two-time quarterfinalist, was eliminated by Nicolas Mahut in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3. And No. 23 Ivo Karlovic was upset by Slovakian qualifier Lukas Lacko, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

In women’s matches, fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber advanced with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Varvara Lepchenko, and No. 5 Simona Halep beat Francesca Schiavone 6-1, 6-1. No. 14 Samantha Stosur was knocked out 6-4, 6-2 by 2013 runner-up Sabine Lisicki.

Two lowly-ranked men’s qualifiers finished a marathon match that went to 26 games in the fifth set – and ended on a double-fault.

Australia’s 248th-ranked Matthew Barton fell forward onto the grass in relief and exhaustion after 793rd-ranked Albano Olivetti’s second serve hit the top of the net and flew wide for his 17th double-fault of the match.

Barton came away with a 6-7 (9), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (5), 14-12 win that earned him a second-round matchup against another marathon man – Isner. The American beat Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010 in a match that went to 70-68 in the fifth set and lasted more than 11 hours over three days.

Goerges to play Kasatkina in Kremlin Cup final

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MOSCOW (AP) Julia Goerges will seek to end a six-year wait for a title when she faces Daria Kasatkina of Russia in the Kremlin Cup final.

The seventh-seeded Goerges recovered from a second-set slump to beat Russian player Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 in their semifinal Friday.

Victory for Goerges in Saturday’s final would end a run of six losses in finals stretching back to 2011, when the German player won in Stuttgart. Three of those losses came in the space of two months this summer.

Earlier Friday, Kasatkina reached her second WTA final of the year when she beat 2014 runner-up Irina-Camelia Begu 6-2, 6-3.

Kasatkina’s strong returns punished Begu’s serve and restricted the Romanian to holding serve just once in each set.

The 20-year-old Kasatkina is seeking her second career title after victory in Charleston in April.

In the men’s draw, Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina booked a place in the semifinals by defeating 2012 champion Andreas Seppi of Italy 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Pablo Carreno Busta out of Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW — Top-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta was knocked out of the Kremlin Cup in the second round by Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3 on Thursday.

The Russian broke 11th-ranked Carreno Busta twice in each set.

Medvedev’s win sets up a quarterfinal against Bosnian qualifier Mirza Basic.

Earlier, Russia’s Daria Kasatkina booked a place in the semifinals of the women’s draw, beating Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4, 6-3.

Standing between Kasatkina and her second career final is Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, who prevailed against qualifier Vera Lapko of Belarus 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in their quarterfinal.

The other women’s semifinal pits Germany’s Julia Goerges against Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva.

Goerges, the last seeded player left in the draw, saw off Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 6-4. Vikhlyantseva eliminated Alize Cornet, winning their quarterfinal 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 despite needing treatment on her left thigh.