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Young upsets Isner to reach Memphis Open semifinal

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Donald Young upset No. 2 seed John Isner 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (6) on Friday night in the quarterfinals at the Memphis Open for his first victory in four tries over the world’s 23rd-ranked player.

Young reached his seventh career semifinal and second in Memphis by overcoming the big-serving American in the tiebreakers of a match that took 2 hours, 23 minutes.

“With him, it comes down to a couple points here and there, and I was able to get those today and I was able to hold my serve for the most part of the match and just defend well,” Young said. “I’m happy to get through it. I don’t know how it happened. I just stayed focused and battled.”

Young will play fellow American Ryan Harrison on Saturday with the indoor tournament up for grabs with Isner having been the last seeded player left. Harrison beat Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina 6-3, 6-4 in the late match.

Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan upset fourth-seeded Steve Johnson 6-0, 6-4 earlier Friday, needing only 70 minutes to advance to the semifinals. Kukushkin will play Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia on Saturday. Basilashvili, who upset top-seeded Ivo Karlovic in the second round, reached his second straight ATP Tour semifinal by beating qualifier Matthew Ebden of Australia 7-6 (3), 6-4.

Isner took the first three matches against Young. This was their first match since Miami in 2014.

Young took advantage of Isner’s mistakes to win the tiebreaker. While serving, Isner came to the net and hit a forehand into the net to drop to 4-3. Then he hit a forehand into the net on the next point. Young had three set points up 6-3 before Isner held his serve. Young then took the set when Isner hit another forehand into the net.

Isner finally converted on Young’s ninth break point in the second set and then held serve to take the second set 6-3.

But Isner hurt himself in the third-set tiebreaker. He hit a backhand long before sending a forehand into the net. Then Isner hit a backhand long to fall behind 4-1. Young failed to convert on three match points up 6-3, then Isner hit another backhand into the net. After serving, Isner came to the net for Young’s return and smacked it into the net for the final point.

“He’s beaten me every other time we’ve played so I wanted to get at least one,” Young said. “I’m just happy I was able to stay focused, come through, deal with a little tightness and still prevail. So I’m happy with the performance.”

Johnson won his first career ATP title at Nottingham last summer and came into this event ranked 30th. Against Kukushkin, Johnson managed to save only one of the six break points he faced.

Basilashvili broke Ebden to finish off his match in 1 hour, 44 minutes.

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.