Getty Images

Top-seeded Muguruza, Pavlyuchenkova reach Linz quarterfinals

Leave a comment

LINZ, Austria (AP) Top-seeded Garbine Muguruza and defending champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova advanced to the quarterfinals of the Generali Ladies with straight-set wins on Thursday.

The French Open champion defeated Monica Niculescu of Romania 6-1, 6-1, while Pavlyuchenkova recovered from dropping 4-1 behind in the opening set to beat Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium 6-4, 7-6 (2).

Muguruza held off two break points in her opening service game then was in control of the match.

“This was maybe close to my best,” the sixth-ranked Spaniard said.

Muguruza’s next opponent is Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland, who defeated Julia Goerges of Germany 7-5, 6-4. Golubic saved a set point when Goerges served at 5-4 in the opening set.

Pavlyuchenkova next plays second-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, who defeated Annika Beck of Germany 6-1, 6-3.

“This is the best year of my career,” said the 10th-ranked Cibulkova, who has won two titles and appeared in three more finals. “It just feels great to be a consistent player.”

Earlier, Madison Keys advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Misaki Doi of Japan 6-2, 6-0. Dominating throughout, the third-seeded American had five aces and avoided break points, while the 30th-ranked Doi won only 40 percent of the points on her serve.

Keys will next play French qualifier Oceane Dodin.

Kasatkina upsets Venus Williams to reach Indian Wells final

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.