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Murray gives Britain lift vs Argentina in Davis Cup semis

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With Andy Murray back, Britain should beat Argentina in Davis Cup this weekend for the first time since 1928 and make the final.

Murray has won the Olympic gold medal and made the Cincinnati final and U.S. Open quarterfinals in the past month, but he has enough left in the tank to play singles and doubles, if need be, Britain captain Leon Smith said.

Murray proved his mettle a year ago in the semifinal against Australia, when he won both of his singles and a five-set doubles.

“There’s no doubt he will be tired. He’s played so much over the summer,” Smith said. “Looking back to last year’s Aussie tie, when he was clearly hurting and fatigued, he went out and gave everything. I don’t think that will change.”

His fitness ought to be tested in the opening singles on Friday, when he’s likely to face Juan Martin del Potro in a rematch of the Olympic final.

Del Potro was still finding his form when he played only doubles in the quarterfinal win over Italy in Italy in July, in his first tie in four years. He followed that with his Olympic run, including a win over Novak Djokovic, and a run to the U.S. Open last eight. He’s match-fit again, and eager to repair a 6-2 losing record to Murray.

He’s the lowest-ranked player in the Argentina squad, and captain Daniel Orsanic wasn’t keen to reveal his lineup until the draw on Thursday. The favorite for the other singles spot must be Federico Delbonis, who won his two singles against Italy, and beat Murray in March at Indian Wells.

Argentina is playing a remarkable 11th semifinal in 15 years, but it faces the defending Davis Cup champions in Murray and his brother Jamie, the U.S. Open doubles champion, who will be backed by a raucous home crowd in Glasgow, Scotland.

If, as expected, Britain wins, then it will host the final in November only if Croatia beats France on another indoor hard court in Zadar.

Croatia’s chances improved when Gael Monfils withdrew from the France team on Thursday because of a knee injury.

Last week, Monfils reached the U.S. Open semifinals.

France was already without Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, also injured, and was now being led by Lucas Pouille, who made his Davis Cup debut in July, and veteran Richard Gasquet.

Croatia impressively came from 2-0 down to beat the United States away in July, thanks to Marin Cilic and Borna Coric. Since then, Cilic won the Cincinnati title, while Coric retired in the U.S. Open first round with an inflamed tendon in his knee. He’s had almost three weeks to recover.

Venus ready for return WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE (AP) Venus Williams returns to the year-end WTA Finals for the first time since reaching the 2009 final, and the fifth time overall, starting on Sunday in Singapore.

Williams joins top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania, second-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain, third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic, fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, sixth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, seventh-ranked Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and ninth-ranked Caroline Garcia of France.

They’re all pretty special,” said Williams, of her career appearances in the year-end competition. “It’s the end of the year. Only Top 8 get here. It’s definitely something well earned.”

At 37-years-old, Williams is the third oldest player to qualify for the year-end championships behind a 39-year-old Billie Jean King in 1983, and a 38-year-old Martina Navratilova in 1994.

Williams is the oldest player in this draw with 27-year-old Wozniacki the next oldest.

Having played since 1995, Williams has seen the women’s game advance, saying: “The competition is so much greater. It’s a beautiful change, in fact.”

In 2008, Williams won the WTA Finals title, going 3-0 in the round-robin, and defeating Vera Zvonareva of Russia in the final.

She was also was a semifinalist in her first two appearances in the finals, in 1999 and 2000.

Williams reached two Grand Slam finals this season at the Australian Open, where she lost to what turned out to be an already pregnant younger sister, Serena, and at Wimbledon, where she fell to Muguruza.

Every player but Garcia has a possibility of playing themselves into the year-end No. 1 ranking depending on their result this week. Williams has ranked No. 1 for 11 weeks of her career.

In the round-robin, Williams is situated in the White Group with fellow big-hitters Muguruza and Pliskova, who both ranked No. 1 at some time during this season, and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams opens the competition against Pliskova on Sunday. The two are tied at one match apiece in their head-to-head.

She holds a 3-2 winning record over Muguruza and is 1-0 over Ostapenko.

“I think my group is more aggressive style players in the group and the other one is more defending,” Pliskova said. “I just like to play better these players.

“I start with Venus tomorrow, so I beat her once from match point and once I lost very close match. This one is open.”

Goerges ends 6-year title wait with victory at Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) Julia Goerges ended her six-year wait for another WTA singles title Saturday with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Daria Kasatkina in the Kremlin Cup final.

Goerges cruised to victory against her Russian opponent, who was ranked one place below her at 28th.

The German swept the first five games of the first set before Kasatkina could even get on the board.

Kasatkina put up more resistance at the start of the second, forcing three break points in Goerges’ first service game, but couldn’t convert them and was broken next game.

Goerges is now 3-7 in career singles finals, with her last title in Stuttgart in 2011. Before Saturday’s match, she had lost six straight finals, including three in the space of two months this summer.