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Kerber defeats Pliskova for U.S. Open title

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The Latest on U.S. Open (all times local):

6:27 p.m.

Angelique Kerber won her first U.S. Open title and the second Grand Slam trophy of her breakthrough season, beating Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 on Saturday.

The No. 2-seeded Kerber came back to win five of the last six games after trailing by a break at 3-1 in the third set.

Kerber already was assured of making her debut at No. 1 in the WTA rankings on Monday, ending Serena Williams‘ record-tying 186-week stay at the top.

Never a Grand Slam finalist before 2016, Kerber beat Williams for the Australian Open title in January, then lost to the American in the Wimbledon final in July.

They seemed to be on course for a third meeting in the final at Flushing Meadows, but the 10th-seeded Pliskova eliminated Williams in the semifinals, after beating her sister Venus in the fourth round.

5:46 p.m.

Karolina Pliskova has taken the second set of the U.S. Open final against Angelique Kerber, sending the match to a third.

Pliskova broke Kerber for the first time Saturday to go up 4-3 in the second set, then took it 6-4.

Kerber had won the opening set 6-3.

The 10th-seeded Pliskova, who eliminated both Williams sisters in the tournament, is bidding for her first Grand Slam title. She had never been past the third round at a major.

Kerber is seeded No. 2, but already is assured of overtaking Serena Williams at No. 1 in the rankings on Monday, regardless of the outcome of the final. Kerber beat Williams in the Australian Open final in January for the first Grand Slam trophy of the German’s career.

5:05 p.m.

Angelique Kerber is one set from her second major title of 2016.

Kerber won the first set of Saturday’s U.S. Open final 6-3 over Karolina Pliskova. The big-serving Pliskova was broken just once in her last two matches combined, but Kerber got breaks in the first and last games of the set.

Kerber is 44-0 this season when she wins the first set.

Pliskova got in just 53 percent of her first serves, and Kerber was all over her second serves, winning 71 percent of those points. Pliskova made 17 unforced errors to three for Kerber.

Kerber, who is taking over the No. 1 ranking for the first time, is in her third major final of the year, while this is the first of Pliskova’s career. Kerber won the Australian Open title and was the runner-up at Wimbledon.

4:20 p.m.

Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova are playing for the U.S. Open championship.

Kerber, who is taking over the No. 1 ranking for the first time, is in her third major final of the year, while this is the first of Pliskova’s career. Kerber won the Australian Open title and was the runner-up at Wimbledon. Pliskova had never even made a Grand Slam round of 16 before this tournament, but she upset Serena Williams in the semifinals to advance to Saturday’s championship match.

Pliskova beat Kerber in the final at Cincinnati nearly three weeks ago for a breakthrough title for the 24-year-old Czech, and she’s been riding that momentum ever since. Kerber was coming off a tiring run to the Olympic gold-medal match then and dealing with the pressure of her first chance to ascend to the top of the rankings.

2:05 p.m.

Jamie Murray of Britain and Bruno Soares of Brazil won the U.S. Open doubles championship Saturday for their second Grand Slam title this year, beating Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-2, 6-3.

The No. 4-seeded Murray and Soares, who won the Australian Open in January, are the first winners of multiple major men’s doubles titles in a season since Bob and Mike Bryan won three in 2013.

They dropped only one service game and won 71 percent of first-serve points against their unseeded opponents. The duo only teamed up late last year.

“It’s a great feeling,” Murray said in his post-match interview when reminded he’s accomplished something his more famous younger brother, Andy, has not by winning two major titles this year. “I’m starting to move out of the shadows.”

Murray and Soares reached the final after taking out the top-seeded team, defending champions Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.

Raonic withdraws from Miami Open with hamstring injury

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Milos Raonic has pulled out of the Miami Open after aggravating a right hamstring injury that sidelined him for nearly a month.

The No. 3-seeded Raonic withdrew before Sunday’s match against American qualifier Jared Donaldson, who advanced to the fourth round.

Raonic said his injury became progressively worse after his opening match, his first since Feb. 25. He expects to be sidelined at least two weeks and perhaps longer.

The Canadian said he hasn’t made it through an entire tournament healthy since Wimbledon last July.

Nadal advances to start bid for first Key Biscayne

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Rafael Nadal’s first fist pump Friday followed his second point in the Miami Open, when he kissed a forehand off the sideline to win a long rally.

He accompanied the celebratory gesture with a skip in his step and then hit the accelerator, holding every service game to beat Dudi Sela 6-3, 6-4.

Thus began Nadal’s latest bid to win Key Biscayne.

“A lot of big motivation,” he said.

He’s playing the tournament for the 13th time and has never won it, although he was the runner-up in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2014. At 0 for 12, it’s Nadal’s longest drought at any event, and perhaps the most glaring gap in the 14-time Grand Slam champion’s resume.

Does it bug him? He won’t admit to any frustration, but lets slip that he still remembers the exact score when he was two points from the title in the third set versus Novak Djokovic.

That was six years ago.

“Against Novak – 6-5, 15-30,” Nadal said. “It didn’t happen.”

The Spaniard has always enjoyed the atmosphere in Miami, where Latin fans give him enthusiastic support, and he likes the tournament’s hard courts. He’s simply overdue.

“I’m trying my best every year,” Nadal told the stadium crowd after dispatching Sela. “I’ve been very close four times. I will try to give myself another chance.”

Nadal is 15-4 this year and pleased with his play. He lost to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final, and again in the fourth round at Indian Wells last week.

Against Sela, Nadal served well, erased the only two break points he faced and overcame the occasional errant groundstroke on a windy afternoon.

“It was very difficult to find the right feelings,” Nadal said. “These kind of days, what you have to do is try to win. That’s what I did, and I’m happy with that.”

Making Nadal’s title bid easier will be the absence of six-time champion Djokovic and two-time champion Andy Murray, both out with elbow injuries.

But No. 3-seeded Milos Raonic is back. He won in his first match since Feb. 25, beating Viktor Troicki 6-3, 7-5. Raonic had been sidelined by a right leg injury.

“I’ve prepared the best I can for this tournament,” Raonic said. “I’m not necessarily in the best position right now, but fortunately it’s a long tournament. Doesn’t mean things can’t change and I can’t get better throughout this event.”

No. 2 Kei Nishikori beat Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-3. No. 7 Marin Cilic lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.

In women’s play, Elena Vesnina made a quick exit only five days after winning the biggest title of her career. Seeded 13th, Vesnina lost her opening match to wild card Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Vesnina beat Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Indian Wells final.

In a match that took two days because of rain, No. 6 Garbine Muguruza rallied past Christina McHale 0-6, 7-6 (6), 6-4. No. 3 Simona Halep beat Naomi Osaka 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. American qualifier Taylor Townsend eliminated No. 25 Robert Vinci 6-3, 6-2.