U.S. Open Day 4 live coverage

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5:30 p.m.

Venus Williams breezed through her second-round match at the U.S. Open.

The seven-time major champ had spent 2 hours, 42 minutes on court in a tense three-set victory over 93rd-ranked Kateryna Kozlova on Tuesday. But against German veteran Julia Goerges on Thursday, Williams won 6-2, 6-3 in 78 minutes.

She had just 17 unforced errors – in complete contrast to the whopping 63 in her first-round win.

The oldest player in the draw at age 36, the sixth-seeded Williams is coming off a semifinal appearance at Wimbledon, her deepest run at a major since 2010.

4:50 p.m.

Play has resumed on the outer courts at the U.S. Open after a rain delay of more than 2+ hours.

Sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori and No. 8 Dominic Thiem were among the players who had their matches halted Thursday. Nishikori split the first two sets against qualifier Karen Khachanov.

With the new roof closed over Arthur Ashe Stadium, No. 2 Andy Murray was able to play his match with no delays.

Eleven doubles matches were canceled Thursday because of the rain.

3:40 p.m.

Wimbledon champ Andy Murray advanced to the third round at the U.S. Open with another straight-set victory.

The second-seeded Murray beat Marcel Granollers 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 on Thursday under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium with play suspended on the outer courts. The heavy rain outside made quite a clatter on the new roof, and Murray said in his on-court interview that it was tough at first because it was hard to hear the ball.

Murray jumped to a quick 5-2 lead in the first set, then it took about 23 minutes to get through the last two games as Granollers saved six set points and got back on serve. But Murray earned another break to finally clinch the set after 67 minutes, then cruised through the final two in 75 minutes combined.

2:15 p.m.

Play has been suspended on the outer courts at the U.S. Open because of rain.

Matches started an hour late Thursday after morning showers. Players were on court for just over two hours before the skies opened up again.

The new roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium remained closed the whole time with matches taking place as scheduled.

1 p.m.

Fifth-seeded Simona Halep beat 2015 French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova in straight sets to move on to the third round of the U.S. Open.

Halep won 6-3, 6-4 under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday. On a rainy morning, the new roof was closed at the start of a match for the first time after it made its debut in the middle of Rafael Nadal’s win Wednesday night.

Halep said in her on-court interview that she liked the calm conditions of playing indoors but she was “a little bit cold.” She added later that it was nice to not need to wait out a rain delay.

12:35 p.m.

Play has started on the outer courts at the U.S. Open after a delay of just over an hour.

Rain pushed back the start of every match Thursday other than the one at Arthur Ashe Stadium, which now has a roof.

The $150 million retractable roof made its competition debut Wednesday night during Rafael Nadal’s win over Andreas Seppi, then was closed for the beginning of Thursday’s day session to allow fifth-seeded Simona Halep’s match against Lucie Safarova to start on time.

12:30 p.m.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced a multi-year partnership with Adidas on Thursday to make the German sportswear giant the official sponsor of USTA player development.

Financial terms were not disclosed for the deal, which gives Adidas a presence throughout the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. – the headquarters of the organization’s player development efforts – and branding of the USTA’s top-flight junior tournament series and league tennis.

USTA Player Development general manager Martin Blackman says the partnership also makes Adidas the official outfitter of player development coaches “to reflect the look and professionalism that exemplifies Team USA.”

Adidas is the sponsor of such stars as Ana Ivanovic and Angelique Kerber. The company’s U.S. senior director of tennis David Malinkowski noted that the partnership could also help forge relationships with up-and-coming American tennis stars.

11 a.m.

Venus and Serena Williams are set to play back-to-back, second-round matches Thursday in Arthur Ashe Stadium, which may need its new retractable roof for much of the day because light rain is falling and more is expected.

No. 6-seeded Venus Williams will take on Julia Goerges of Germany in the afternoon, followed by No. 1 Serena Williams against Vania King in an all-American matchup to start the night session.

Another key match comes in the nightcap on Ashe, when 2009 champion Juan Martin del Potro takes on 19th-seeded American Steve Johnson. Del Potro, whose ranking dropped to No. 142 because of wrist injuries over the past 2 ½ years, has returned to Grand Slam play this year and made a strong run to the silver medal at the Olympics.

The Wimbledon champ and Olympic gold medalist, No. 2-seeded Andy Murray, is also in action on Ashe, facing Marcel Granollers. They’ve played seven previous times, with Murray winning six.

Nadal beats Dimitrov, one win from record 31st Masters title

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MONACO (AP) Rafael Nadal remains on course for a record 31st Masters title after beating Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-1 in the Monte Carlo Masters semifinals on Saturday.

The top-ranked Spaniard never looked in trouble as he beat the fourth-seeded Bulgarian for the 11th time in 12 career meetings.

If Nadal wins Sunday’s final, he will earn a 76th career title and also keep his No. 1 ranking. Should he lose, Roger Federer will reclaim the top spot.

Nadal faces either third-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany or Kei Nishikori of Japan, who play later Saturday.

In the opening game, Dimitrov came out firing. He pressured Nadal with two superb lobs, forcing a backhand smash wide from the Spaniard for deuce. But Nadal held a tight first game lasting eight minutes, and then broke Dimitrov for 2-0.

Dimitrov found his range, broke Nadal back and held for 3-3. The next two games were even, with Dimitrov matching Nadal in the rallies.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion held for 5-4 and then Dimitrov cracked, serving consecutive double faults and hitting a wild forehand long to trail 15-40. He saved one set point but Nadal was in ruthless mode and took the next chance.

It appeared that Nadal was gaining his usual momentum on clay – and two consecutive love breaks and three easy holds made it 5-0 to the Spaniard in the second set.

Dimitrov explained his collapse this way.

“I think I played smart against him. I kind of know his pattern a little bit better,” Dimitrov said. “But it was my fault when I got broken. Simple as that. Two double-faults, it’s just definitely not acceptable, especially when you play against him on that surface.”

Dimitrov finally held, drawing polite applause, but Nadal served out the match with ease. He clinched victory on his first match point when Dimitrov patted the ball wide following a brief exchange.

“You see me with a smile. I’m a positive person,” Dimitrov said. “Deep down, I’m hurt. I hate losing. Simple as that.”

Nadal shares the Masters record with Novak Djokovic, whose 30 wins include two here.

Nadal’s victory at Monte Carlo last year made him the first men’s tennis player in the Open era to win the same title 10 times. He then won a 10th title at Barcelona and the French Open.

 

Fed Cup: Stephens to open for US against France in semis

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AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France (AP) U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens will open play for the U.S. against Pauline Parmentier of France in the Fed Cup semifinals.

France No. 1 Kristina Mladenovic and CoCo Vandeweghe will follow on Saturday in the second singles at the new 6,700-capacity Arena Pays d’Aix. France has opted for an indoor clay court.

Mladenovic and Amandine Hesse are set to face Madison Keys and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the doubles on Sunday following the reverse singles.

France and the United States meet for a 14th time, with the Americans holding an 11-2 winning record. The French won their most recent meeting, in 2014.

Both teams are missing their highest-ranked player: No. 8 Venus Williams for the U.S., and No. 7 Caroline Garcia for France.

Germany is facing the Czech Republic in the other semifinal in Stuttgart.