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Monfils, Berdych earn wins at Rogers Cup

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TORONTO — Gael Monfils of France defeated Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-3, 6-3 and fifth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic beat Croatia’s Borna Coric 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 at the Rogers Cup on Tuesday.

Despite dropping his first set, Berdych said that he wasn’t concerned because it was an early break.

“I mean it was by my mistakes and then it was just basically trying to get used to the conditions because they were quite different,” the world No. 8 said.

“I was just really trying to be patient with myself. Trying also to look for the opportunities. And that’s what paid off.”

Tournament No. 2 seed Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland faced Russian Mikhail Youzhny in the late Tuesday match.

Taiwan’s Yen-Hsun Lu admits he’s a bit nervous about facing hometown star Milos Raonic on Wednesday, but he’s banking on the fourth-seeded Canadian having a few butterflies too.

Lu, who advanced to the second round on Tuesday with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Alexander Zverev of Germany, will have few backers among the expected capacity crowd at the 12,500-seat Aviva Centre.

“All the spectators against you is very tough,” Lu said. “But, I mean, this is what he should get because he comes from the country and he’s one of the best players right now.”

Later Tuesday, Canada’s Vasek Pospisil defeated Jeremy Chardy in first-round action after the Frenchman retired with a right foot injury.

Chardy started to favor his foot after Pospisil went up 30-0 in the first game of the second set. Chardy called for the trainer and waited several minutes before deciding that he couldn’t go on.

Pospisil won the first set 7-6 (3). The Vancouver product will face Monfils in the second round.

Raonic, who grew up in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill, will be playing his first match since the Wimbledon men’s final where he lost to Andy Murray.

Lu says that in order to beat the Canadian, he will have to have a strong service game, but he’s also hoping to exploit any nerves that Raonic may have as he returns home.

“If I can try to make more balls into the court to play, I have a little bit better chance,” he said. “I have to focus on my service game to stay with him and to maybe give him a little bit of pressure and waiting for him maybe a little bit getting nervous from the tensions and give me a chance.”

Raonic, who had a bye in the first round of the Rogers Cup, is 2-0 against the 32-year-old Lu, with his last victory coming in 2014 in Monte Carlo. Lu said he’s noticed a lot of improvement in Raonic’s game recently.

“He getting more stable from the baseline,” Lu said. “He plays all different kind of game. He can come in, he’s making (things) difficult.”

In men’s doubles action, Vancouver’s Philip Bester and Adil Shamasdin of Toronto got past world No. 1 singles player Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic of Serbia 7-5, 4-6, 10-2.

Tied at 30-30 in the second set, Bester double-faulted to give the Serbs break point before double faulting again to give Djokovic and Zimonjic the set.

“I wanted to keep things interesting for the crowd,” Bester joked. “That’s just sport, that’s tennis, that kind of stuff happens to me, it happens to everybody and as soon as we went to the change-over, the most important thing for me personally was to have a short memory about it and also to communicate with Adil that I was ready to move on to the tiebreaker.”

Bester and Shamasdin will next play South Africa’s Raven Klaasen and American Rajeev Ram.

Lu, ranked 70th in the world, improved to 3-3 on the ATP World Tour circuit this season with his victory over Zverev. He made headlines at Wimbledon in 2010 when he beat American Andy Roddick in an epic five-set thriller.

The Taiwanese player was ousted in the first round of the Rogers Cup last year by Pospisil.

After right elbow surgery delayed the start of his season, he’s gone on to lose to Djokovic in the first round of Roland Garros and Murray in the second round of Wimbledon.

Lu says he’ll have to stop Raonic’s weapon – his serve – if he’s going to be successful on center court against the world No. 7.

“He’s one of the best players right now,” Lu said. “For me, I really need to stay very strong in my serve and hope I can always catch him and give him some pressure.”

Venus Williams beats No. 1 Kerber in Miami Open quarters

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Venus Williams moved a step closer to her first Key Biscayne title since 2001 when she beat top-ranked Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open.

It was Williams’ 15th career win against a No. 1 player, but her first since 2014. Seeded No. 11, she’s into the tournament’s semifinals for the first time in seven years.

Williams’ opponent Thursday night will be No. 10-seeded Johanna Konta, who became the first British woman to reach a semifinal in the tournament by beating No. 3 Simona Halep 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2. No. 2 Karolina Pliskova will play No. 12 Caroline Wozniacki in the other semifinal.

Williams took charge of her quarterfinal match when Kerber double-faulted on the final two points of the opening set, and broke serve twice more early in the second set. She closed out the victory on her fifth match point with a backhand winner.

It was a matchup of offense against defense, with Williams the more aggressive player, charging the net often. Kerber stayed rooted to the baseline and was on the defensive even when she served, facing 13 break points and losing serve five times.

The German will remain No. 1 next week despite her loss. She reclaimed the top ranking this month after Indian Wells, replacing Serena Williams, who is sidelined by a knee injury.

Venus Williams improved to 61-13 at Key Biscayne, where she is making her 18th appearance. She won the title in 1998, 1999 and 2001 and considers the tournament her hometown event – she lives 90 minutes north in Palm Beach Gardens.

At 36, Williams was the oldest woman to enter the draw, but she hasn’t been taxed physically while winning every set in her four matches.

On the men’s side, Fabio Fognini became the first unseeded player in 10 years to reach the men’s semifinals at Key Biscayne when he beat 2016 runner-up Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2. Fognini, 29, who matched his best showing in an ATP Masters 1000 event, will next play the winner of Wednesday night’s match between Rafael Nadal and Jack Sock.

Nishikori was seeded No. 2. Fognini improved to 9-44 against top-10 players, and became the first Italian man to reach a semifinal at Key Biscayne.

Historical marker for tennis great Tilden rejected again

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) A Pennsylvania panel once again rejected a historical marker for Philadelphia tennis great Bill Tilden.

Tilden became the first American to win Wimbledon in 1920 and also won seven U.S. championships. In 1950, The Associated Press voted him the greatest player of the first half of the century.

A year ago, a panel of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission that approves historical markers voted 4-1 against recommending approval of a marker at Philadelphia’s Germantown Cricket Club, citing Tilden’s convictions on charges involving teenage boys in the 1940s.

Karen Galle, coordinator of the historical marker program, confirmed Wednesday that the panel again voted 4-1 against approving the marker in February and that recommendation was among 54 approved by the commission at its March 22 meeting.

“While the significance of this athlete’s tennis career and talent are indisputable, his convictions for sexual misconduct with underage boys preclude recognition,” commission spokesman Howard Pollman said.

Lack of a marker doesn’t diminish Tilden’s accomplishments but approval “may be perceived to dishonor victims of sexual abuse,” Pollman said. Officials have cited the climate in the commonwealth following the sex abuse scandal involving another sports figure, Penn State’s Jerry Sandusky.

Tilden was arrested in Beverly Hills, California, in November 1946, after a 14-year-old boy was caught driving the star’s car erratically. Officers reported that when the teen exited the car, his pants zipper was down. Police charged Tilden with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and he served seven months in jail. He was arrested again in 1949 on allegations that he violated probation by being in the company of another teen boy, and that he groped a third teen. He served 10 months at a prison farm.

Tilden, born to a wealthy Philadelphia family, was featured regularly in magazines, newspapers and newsreels during his career. He was friends with Hollywood elite and played at the White House at the invitation of President Warren Harding. He’s credited with urging children of all economic backgrounds to learn tennis, once a sport only for the wealthy, and modern players still value his manuals on how to play.

After his convictions, Tilden’s Germantown membership was revoked, and his portrait was removed. In recent years, the club has begun to embrace Tilden’s memory, and a group of Philadelphians has been lobbying for a historical marker at the site.