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Tennis opens up bidding for hosts of Davis, Fed Cup finals

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LONDON — Cities will bid to stage the finals of the Davis and Fed Cups as part of a revamp of the international team tennis competitions.

The International Tennis Federation will launch a bidding process in December, although the governing body is yet to determine whether the same city will host the men’s and women’s competitions.

Currently one of the finalists, based on the draw, decides the venue. Croatia is now looking for a suitable location for its men to host Argentina in the Davis Cup final in November.

“By having a full year or two to plan we can do more for sponsors and fans with a stadium that’s an appropriate size,” ITF President David Haggerty said the organization’s London headquarters.

Working on the ITF project are consultants from the CSM sports marketing company chaired by Sebastian Coe, president of track and field’s governing body, the IAAF.

The ITF will assess whether to select a host city from an emerging market which can potentially offer higher financial returns or one of the traditional tennis heartlands where the crowds could be larger and more boisterous.

“It’s a balancing act, making sure we get bids from a number of different cities so we can make comparisons,” Haggerty told The Associated Press. “But it’s not all about money. It’s about eyeballs and awareness. Our mission really is to develop, grow and promote tennis around the world. So we will take great caution.”

Haggerty envisages the winning bid staging the finals for two to three years. The challenge in potentially using the same venue for both competition finals at the same time is finding somewhere with enough arenas, practice courts and locker rooms.

European soccer’s Champions League final and the Super Bowl, the showpiece of the NFL season, are being examined as major events that are held at neutral venues.

The proposed Davis and Fed Cup changes must be approved by the ITF’s annual general meeting in August. The ITF anticipates a decision on successful bidding cities next year.

The ITF is also examining whether to condense the finals from three to two days and if best-of-three sets would work better for the Davis Cup rather than the current best-of-five. The Fed Cup world group could also double to 16 teams to match the men’s competition.

Kasatkina upsets Venus Williams to reach Indian Wells final

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) Daria Kasatkina upset Venus Williams 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a nearly three-hour baseline struggle to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night.

Kasatkina was two points from defeat, trailing 4-5 and 0-30 in the third set when Williams committed four straight errors as the 20-year-old Russian tied it 5-all.

Williams won just two more points as Kasatkina took the last two games to close out the match in 2 hours, 48 minutes. Kasatkina dropped her racket near the baseline and covered her face with her hands as she walked to the net.

After shaking hands, Kasatkina pumped her fists and shook her head slightly as if in disbelief at beating the 37-year-old American and advancing to the biggest final of her young career.

Top-ranked Simona Halep took on Naomi Osaka, a 20-year-old from Japan, in the other semifinal.

After losing the first set, Kasatkina was visited by her coach on court. Philippe Dehaes told her, “She’s 37, you’re 20. Make her work a lot.”

When she wasn’t trading shots from the baseline, a nervy Kasatkina fooled Williams with drop shots, including two that landed just over the net near the sideline. The Russian tossed up lobs over the 6-foot-1 American – some worked, some didn’t, but she was undeterred.

There were 14 service breaks in the match.

Williams rallied from 3-1 down to win the first set. She trailed 3-1 again in the second and tied it 3-all when Kasatkina was broken on a double fault.

Kasatkina won the last four games in a row to take the second set. The players dueled through eight deuces in an epic eighth game, with the Russian turning back six break points against her. Williams pulled a forehand wide to lose the game.

Kasatkina’s coach visited her again before the third set.

“You go for it?” he asked her.

“Sure,” she replied, and they slapped hands.

Williams served a love game to go up 5-4. She led love-30 on Kasatkina’s serve in the next game before her forehand deserted her.

Williams double-faulted twice in a row to drop serve and trail 6-5. Kasatkina won on her second match point when Williams netted a backhand.

Kasatkina now owns a 2-1 record against Williams, who won 10-8 in the third round at Wimbledon in 2016.

Juan Martin del Potro defeated No. 31 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Milos Raonic beat 18th-seeded American Sam Querrey 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to reach the men’s semifinals.

More AP tennis coverage:

Maria Sharapova withdraws from Miami with forearm injury

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the Miami Open that begins next week because of a left forearm injury.

Sharapova announced the decision on Friday. She’ll be replaced in the main draw by American Jennifer Brady.

Sharapova lost in the first round at Indian Wells last week and in the third round of the Australian Open in January. She returned to the tour last year after a 15-month doping ban.

The women’s field includes eight-time Key Biscayne champion Serena Williams and No. 1-ranked Simona Halep. The men’s field includes defending champion Roger Federer and six-time Key Biscayne champ Novak Djokovic.