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Venus Williams tumbles out of Rogers Cup in Montreal

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MONTREAL — Sixth-seeded Venus Williams tumbled out of the Rogers Cup in the third round Thursday night, falling 6-1, 6-7 (2), 6-3 to 10th-seeded Madison Keys in an all-American match.

Playing her last tournament match before the Rio Olympics, the 36-year-old Williams lost seven straight games before holding serve in the third game of the second set. After Williams rallied to tie the match, Keys found her serve in the third set, ending the match with her 12th ace.

The 21-year-old Keys won the Wimbledon tuneup event in Birmingham, England, this year for her second WTA Tour title, then reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. She’ll face 16th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in the quarterfinals.

Williams beat Barbora Strycova – the Czech player Keys topped in the Birmingham final – on Wednesday in her first match since losing to Britain’s Johanna Konta on Sunday in the Bank of the West Classic final. Against Keys, she struggled with her serve.

“Her first serve was definitely slower than normal,” Keys said. “But it was funny, her second serve was a lot slower, but because of the court it was bouncing a lot higher than normal. So while her first serve was a little easier to return, her second serve was really tough.”

Pavlyuchenkova beat fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland.

“It’s going to be a tough match,” Keys said about Pavlyuchenkova. “She’s always tricky because she definitely fights till the end and she’s going to hit a lot of winners.”

Pavlyuchenkova let two match points slip away while leading 5-4 in the second set and then lost the game on a double fault. She rebounded in the third set to extend her longest run at the hardcourt event.

“I think I’m still recovering from the second set,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “Basically, I thought I had the match in my pocket and lost it, so I’m happy with the mental side.”

Radwanska won in 2014 in Montreal.

The 15th-seeded Konta beat American Varvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-2 to set up a quarterfinal against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova, a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 winner over Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard in the late match.

Bouchard was penalized a point for racket abuse in the third set as she struggled to hit the lines to the disappointment of what had been a festive center-court crowd at Uniprix Stadium.

“I played some high-quality tennis this week – I can’t forget those two matches – but two matches is not a whole tournament,” Bouchard said. “I need to learn how to keep it going and deal with the pressure. I just felt I maybe panicked a little bit, tried to finish the points too soon.”

Second-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany beat Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4.

“I’m still improving to playing better tennis, being more aggressive and just going for it,” Kerber said. “I think today I was a little bit too excited to going for it. This is sometimes, I think, the problem.”

Kerber will face Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, a 7-5, 6-3 2 winner over seventh-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy 7-5, 6-3.

Fifth-seeded Simona Halep of Romania, a finalist last year in Toronto, beat 14th-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3. Pliskova, the WTA Tour ace leader, had only five in the match.

“I knew that it’s going to be tough because I don’t get rhythm from her,” Halep said. “You never know what to expect for the next point, so there’s a bit of tension. I just had to stay patient for every ball and to keep fighting because I knew that if I stay there for every ball, she can miss more than me.”

Halep will face ninth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 7-6 (2), 6-3 winner over 12th-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.

Sharapova loses to Rybarikova at Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) Maria Sharapova was beaten by Magdalena Rybarikova 7-6 (3), 6-4 in the first round of the Kremlin Cup on Tuesday, ending her bid for a second title in two weeks.

Sharapova, who won the Tianjin Open two days ago, brought her usual power but lacked accuracy with some wild swings on key points.

“I felt fine physically, to be honest, especially after having played five matches in five days (in Tianjin). That was a big surprise,” Sharapova said. “Maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been … Maybe if this tournament hadn’t been in Moscow, I wouldn’t have played it.”

Sharapova was under pressure on serve from the start and saved six break points before finally being broken to 6-5. She responded by breaking Rybarikova, but Sharapova’s double fault at 4-3 in the tiebreaker handed the Slovakian the momentum to close out the set.

Rybarikova, seeded eighth, sealed the match after saving two break points to lead 5-4, then breaking Sharapova in the next game. Rybarikova will play Alize Cornet in the second round.

Six months after she returned from a 15-month doping ban, Sharapova is still trying to move back up the rankings from her current position of 57th. Her first tour appearance in Moscow in a decade drew a large and enthusiastic crowd despite taking place on a Tuesday afternoon.

Also Tuesday, seventh-seeded Julia Goerges beat Russian qualifier Polina Monova 6-0, 6-3 to set up a second-round meeting with Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

In the men’s Kremlin Cup tournament, sixth-seeded Damir Dzumhur defeated Thomas Fabbiano 6-3, 0-6, 6-2.

Maria Sharapova wins her 1st title since doping ban

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TIANJIN, China (AP) Maria Sharapova won her first WTA title since returning from a doping ban after defeating Aryna Sabalenka to win the Tianjin Open on Sunday.

The Russian, a tournament wild card, overcame Belarusian teenager Sabalenka 7-5, 7-6 (8) despite trailing heavily in both sets.

Sharapova last won a title at the Italian Open in May 2015.

The former top-ranked player and owner of five major titles, including the 2006 U.S. Open, tested positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the Australian Open in January 2016. That led to a 15-month doping ban, which expired in April.

“Such a special, special tournament, and victory for me, one that I’ll remember forever,” Sharapova said. “Sometimes you never know when it will all come together but it happened to me this week in Tianjin.”

Sharapova displayed resilience as she came from behind in both sets to overcome her 19-year-old opponent.

Sabalenka led 4-1 in the opener and 5-1 in the second before relenting to Sharapova’s greater big-match experience. It was Sharapova’s 36th WTA singles title.

The 30-year-old Sharapova played in her first Grand Slam tournament following the ban at the U.S. Open in August, where she reached the fourth round. Sunday’s result will lift Sharapova up to No. 57 in the world rankings.