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Nadal, Lopez win Olympic tennis men’s doubles for Spain

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RIO DE JANEIRO- Rafael Nadal added a second Olympic tennis gold medal to all of those Grand Slam trophies, teaming with Marc Lopez to win the men’s doubles championship for Spain at the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Nadal and Lopez came back from a break down in the third set and claimed the last three games to beat Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau of Romania 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in the final Friday.

Nadal, a 14-time champion at major tournaments, also won an Olympic title in singles at the 2008 Beijing Games. This is the first medal for Lopez.

The silver for Mergea and Tecau is the first tennis medal for Romania in Olympic history.

The bronze went to Steve Johnson and Jack Sock of the United States. They beat the Canadian team of Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-4 earlier Friday.

Sock and Pospisil won the Wimbledon doubles championship together in 2014.

It was another busy day for Nadal, who won his singles quarterfinal in three sets earlier Friday.

Nadal does not play doubles often on tour, focusing on a singles career that has included stints at No. 1 in the rankings and a record nine French Open titles. Of his nine previous doubles championships, four came with Lopez as his partner, although they hadn’t played even one match together this year until arriving in Brazil.

Lopez won his first Grand Slam doubles title at the French Open in June, pairing with Feliciano Lopez – they’re not related – to beat American twins Bob and Mike Bryan in that final.

On Friday, the Romanians appeared to get the upper hand when they broke Marc Lopez to lead 4-3 in the final set. Lopez double-faulted to love-40, then hit a mediocre lob. Tecau’s overhead was netted by Nadal.

But in the very next game, with Tecau serving, the Spanish duo broke right back. Mergea sailed a forehand long to set up a break point, then put a volley into the net, making it 4-all.

After Nadal held for a 5-4 edge, the Spaniards broke again, converting their third match point when Mergea sent an overhead long.

Nadal and Lopez, both near the baseline, dropped their rackets and fell to the court, staying down for a few moments to enjoy the victory.

After the winners got up and shook hands with their opponents and the chair umpire, Nadal pulled Lopez in for a big hug.

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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.