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Murray, Dimitrov ease through to China Open final

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BEIJING — Andy Murray and Grigor Dimitrov eased into the final of the China Open on Saturday – one of them without playing.

Top-seeded Murray beat fifth-seeded David Ferrer 6-2, 6-3 to reach his ninth final of the season, while Dimitrov advanced with a walkover against third-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada.

Murray lost his serve to go 2-1 down before winning five straight games to take the opening set. He has yet to drop a set this week.

Murray, who took over the No. 1 seeding when Novak Djokovic withdrew, is at the China Open for the third time, and has improved each time: He reached the quarterfinals on debut, and the semifinals in 2014.

Dimitrov had a walkover against Raonic, who injured his ankle during his quarterfinal victory against Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday.

Murray leads Dimitrov 7-3 in head-to-head meetings.

On the women’s side, Johanna Konta assured herself of a place in the next WTA top-10 rankings – the first British woman to do so since Jo Durie in 1984 – after defeating Madison Keys in three sets.

The 11th-seeded Konta beat eighth-seeded Keys 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4 with the American winning only 37 percent of points on her second service.

Ranked 14th, Konta faces Agnieszka Radwanska in the final. The third-seeded Pole beat 16th-seeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 7-6 (3), 6-3.

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.