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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.

Nadal doesn’t see himself skipping tournaments like Federer

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MONACO (AP) For now, Rafael Nadal doesn’t see himself skipping any major tournaments the way Roger Federer has been sitting out the French Open.

The veterans are back at the top of world tennis, with Nadal needing to win the Monte Carlo Masters this week to avoid losing his top ranking once again to Federer in their seemingly eternal battle for tennis supremacy.

For the second consecutive season, the 36-year-old Federer is skipping the entire clay-court season in order to be at his best on grass.

After coming back from injury to win the Australian Open last year, Federer skipped the clay-court season, won Wimbledon, and retained his Melbourne crown to extend his record tally to 20 majors.

The Swiss star is keeping his aging body fresher by playing a bit less – avoiding Nadal on clay at Roland Garros or elsewhere – and it is working for him.

But Nadal still thinks he can play a full schedule.

“There (are) tournaments that I can’t imagine missing on purpose, because (they are) tournaments that I love to play,” Nadal said on Wednesday. “I don’t see myself missing Monte Carlo on purpose. I don’t see myself missing Wimbledon on purpose, or the U.S. Open, or Australian, or Rome. These kind of events, I don’t see missing (them).”

The 31-year-old Spaniard recently returned from a right hip injury which forced him to retire during the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic.

With his 32nd birthday coming up on June 3 – during the French Open – the 16-time Grand Slam champion accepts he may think differently when he gets closer to Federer’s age.

“Of course, when you get older, you need to adjust a little bit more the efforts and the calendar. But for me (it) is difficult to say I don’t play, for example, grass, or I don’t play hard (courts),” Nadal said. “(It) is not in my plan, but I can’t say `never’ because I cannot predict what’s going to be in the future.”

Nadal is chasing an 11th title at both Monte Carlo and Roland Garros, which begins on May 27.

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

Jerome Pugmire on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

Thiem reaches third round at Monte Carlo

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MONACO — Dominic Thiem saved a match point and beat Andrey Rublev of Russia 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Rublev was serving for the match at 5-4, 40-30 but hit a forehand narrowly wide. Fifth-seeded Thiem broke him with backhand pass down the line and held for 6-5.

The Austrian was 15-40 up on Rublev’s serve and clinched victory on his first match point, when Rublev double-faulted with a weak serve into the net.

“I was 10 centimeters from being out of the tournament,” a relieved Thiem said. “But I’m happy that I played two hours and 40 (minutes).”

Thiem has reached the French Open semifinals for the past two years. He next meets 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic or Borna Coric of Croatia, who play their second-round match on Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to watching Djokovic and Coric in front of the TV, and then playing the winner on Thursday,” Thiem said.

In the second round later Tuesday, fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria faced Pierre-Hugues Herbert and seventh-seeded Lucas Pouille played Mischa Zverev.

In remaining first-round play, there were wins for Gilles Simon of France, Marco Cecchinato of Italy and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.