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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.

Azarenka aims to come back in time for Wimbledon

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MOSCOW — Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka says she is planning to return to competition before Wimbledon.

Azarenka, who was ranked No. 1 for seven months in 2012 and 2013, went on a break last July to have her first child. She had previously been targeting a return at the July 31-Aug. 6 Bank of the West Classic in California.

In a statement on Twitter, the Belarusian says “my training has been progressing well and I feel ready to start competing,” adding that she plans “to play one of the grass court events prior to Wimbledon.”

Wimbledon starts July 3.

Azarenka won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, and has twice reached the Wimbledon semifinals.

Djokovic announces Agassi will coach him at French Open

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ROME —¬†Novak Djokovic is joining forces with Andre Agassi in an effort to return to No. 1.

Djokovic announced Sunday that Agassi will coach him at the French Open, which starts next Sunday.

“I spoke to Andre the last couple weeks on the phone, and we decided to get together in Paris,” Djokovic said. “So he’s going to be there. We’ll see what (the) future brings.

“We are both excited to work together and see where it takes us. We don’t have any long-term commitment. It’s just us trying to get to know each other in Paris a little bit,” Djokovic added. “He will not stay the whole tournament. He’s going to stay only to a certain time, and then we’ll see after that what’s going to happen.”

The second-ranked Djokovic split with longtime coach Marian Vajda and two other team members – fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch, and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic – at the start of the month.

Agassi, who retired in 2006, won eight Grand Slam titles.

Djokovic has won 12 Grand Slams.

“Andre is someone that I have tremendous respect for as a person and as a player,” Djokovic said. “He has been through everything that I’m going through. On the court he understands the game amazingly well. I am enjoying every conversation that I have with him.

“But also, on the other hand, he’s someone that nurtures the family values, philanthropy work. He’s a very humble man, is very educated. He’s a person that can contribute to my life on and off the court a lot. I’m very excited to see what is ahead of us.”

The pairing is the latest in a series of top players working with former standouts, from Andy Murray and Ivan Lendl, Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moya, and Kei Nishikori and Michael Chang.

Djokovic was coached by Boris Becker the last three seasons, but they split last year.

Vajda started working with Djokovic in 2006.

Djokovic lost his No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray last year after a slump in form following his French Open triumph.

He lost in the third round at Wimbledon, his earliest defeat in a Grand Slam in seven years, lost in the first round at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, reached the final of the U.S. Open, and lost early again at the Australian Open.

Djokovic finished 2016 at No. 2, his current ranking. He’s won only one of his last 11 tournaments.

While Agassi has not coached a top player before, Djokovic said his record as a player and spokesman of the game was enough to convince him.

“He’s a legend of our sport,” Djokovic said. “He’s made a mark in this sport forever. He’s won everything there is to win in tennis.

“He was a revolutionary player because he had this charisma, he had this approach to tennis and to life that was quite different from others. That’s why he was so interesting.”

Agassi has already been offering advice on the phone.

“He’s been definitely following up closely all the matches, the big matches, especially on the TV,” Djokovic said. “So he knows players, he knows everyone that I was playing against in (the) last couple of weeks, so we talked before every match.

Djokovic added, “I already feel like we are very kind of close to each other and creating this nice vibe.”