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.

Serena Williams returning to competition for US Fed Cup team

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) The U.S. Tennis Association says Serena Williams will return to competition for the first time in more than a year at the country’s Fed Cup matches against the Netherlands next month.

Williams has not played an official match since winning the Australian Open in January 2017 for her 23rd Grand Slam singles title. She was pregnant during that tournament and gave birth to a daughter on Sept. 1.

Joining Williams on U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi’s roster announced Tuesday is older sister Venus, a seven-time major champion. The siblings have not played on the Fed Cup team together in three years.

Also on the team: CoCo Vandeweghe, a semifinalist at the Australian Open and U.S. Open last year. A fourth member of the U.S. squad will be announced next week.

The U.S. won last year’s Fed Cup.

The matches against the Netherlands will be held on an indoor hard court in Ashville, North Carolina, on Feb. 10-11.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Injured Nadal out of Australian Open; Cilic into semifinals

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) An injured and visibly struggling Rafael Nadal retired while trailing in the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal match against Marin Cilic.

Top-ranked Nadal fended off five break points in the last game before Cilic broke his serve, then the 16-time major winner went to shake hands with the umpire and his opponent, and angrily hurled his headband into his equipment bag.

No. 6-seeded Cilic advanced to his first semifinal in Australia since 2010 with a score of 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-2, 2-0, retired.

Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, will next play No. 49-ranked Kyle Edmund, who beat No. 3-ranked Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time.

Nadal limped into a news conference about a half-hour later, still wincing when he stepped up onto a platform. He said he felt muscle pain in his upper right leg in the third set but played through it. In the fourth set, chasing a drop shot, he felt the pain get worse “but didn’t realize how bad.”

“Tough moments -not (for) the first time here,” he said. “I’m a positive person, but today is an opportunity lost to be in a semifinal for a Grand Slam and fight for an important title for me.

“It’s really tough to accept.”

Nadal said he’d have medical scans Wednesday to determine the exact location and extent of the injury, which he could only describe as being high on his right leg but not in the hip.

“Unbelievable performance from both of us and really unfortunate for Rafa,” Cilic said. “He’s such an unbelievable competitor. He always gives his best … it’s very unfortunate for him to finish this way.”

It was only the second time Nadal had retired during a Grand Slam match – the last time was also an Australian Open quarterfinal, in 2010 against Andy Murray.

On Tuesday night, he needed a medical timeout after going down 4-1 in the fourth set for treatment on his leg.

Nadal returned but was clearly bothered by the injury, limping and taking as much time as possible as he tried to stretch between points.

He called the trainer again after losing the fourth set, and lasted only two further games.

Cilic had only previously beaten Nadal once in their six previous matches – in their first match at Beijing in 2009.

Nadal had a delayed start to the season because of an injured right knee, but appeared to be in good form through the first four rounds. He now hasn’t won back-to-back Australian Open quarterfinals since 2008 and ’09, the year he won his only Australian title.

“I worked hard to be here,” said Nadal, who skipped tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Brisbane, Australia, while his knee recovered at the start of the season. “We did all the things that we believed were the right things to do.”

His absence also means there’s only one of last year’s singles finalists remaining in the tournament. Roger Federer, who beat Nadal in five sets last year, is playing Tomas Berdych in a quarterfinal on Wednesday.

Serena Williams didn’t defend her title, deciding she hadn’t had enough time to prepare following the birth of her first child last September. Her older sister, Venus Williams, was beaten in the first round.

On top of that, six-time champion Novak Djokovic was upset in the fourth round.

There’ll be a British man in the Australian Open semifinals for the seventh time in nine years, but it won’t be five-time finalist Murray – who skipped the season-opening tournament to have surgery on his hip.

Edmund had never played in a major quarterfinal, had never won five consecutive matches at tour level, had lost both of his previous matches against Dimitrov and had never beaten a top five player.

He checked all those boxes on Rod Laver Arena.

“I am loving it right now, just the way I’m playing,” Edmund said. “My first Grand Slam semifinal. First time I played on one of the biggest courts in the world. To beat a quality of player like Grigor. They’re great feelings. So, yeah, I just try to enjoy it as much as possible.”

After breaking Dimitrov’s serve in the ninth game of the fourth set, Edmund set up match point with an ace. Then he had to wait before a video challenge confirmed that Dimitrov’s last shot – a floating backhand – was out.

“I just held my nerve in that last game and prayed that last ball would be out,” Edmund said. It was out. And so was Dimitrov, who lost a five-set semifinal here last year to Nadal.

“Everything went his way today,” Dimitrov said. “It’s hard to hide a disappointment. It hurts, and so it should.”

Edmund, who had a first-round upset over U.S. Open finalist Kevin Anderson, is now the center of attention for the tennis-loving British public.

“I know what it feels like to be Andy Murray the last eight years,” he said. “It’s probably the first time I’ve done well on my own, so there’s more attention there. Of course you take it in stride.”

Elise Mertens is facing a similar experience.

Mertens upset fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-0 to extend her winning streak to 10 matches, becoming the first Belgian since Kim Clijsters in 2012 to reach the semifinals here.

Mertens, who trains at Clijsters’ academy, said: “Kim, thanks for watching. I’m trying to be in your footsteps this week.”

In the semis, she’ll play either second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki or Carla Suarez Navarro.