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Serena withdraws from Indian Wells with knee injury

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. —¬†Serena Williams withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open that begins Wednesday because of a left knee injury, leaving the desert tournament without the world’s top-ranked women’s player.

The withdrawal also cost Williams a chance to retain her top ranking.

Angelique Kerber, a two-time semifinalist and now the highest-seeded woman in the event, will supplant Williams at No. 1 after Indian Wells. Williams needed to reach the semifinals to retain the top spot.

Williams said Tuesday in a statement released through the tournament that she also won’t play the Miami Open, which begins March 21 and isn’t far from her Florida base.

She has been idle since beating sister Venus Williams for the Australian Open title on Jan. 29. Her only other tournament this year was in Auckland, New Zealand, where she lost in the round of 16.

“Sadly, I have to withdraw from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and the Miami Open,” Williams said. “I have not been able to train due to my knees and am disappointed I cannot be there. I will keep moving forward and continue to be positive. I look forward to being back as soon as I can.”

Williams is a two-time winner at Indian Wells, where she returned in 2015 after a lengthy boycott. She withdrew before her semifinal match that year with a sprained right knee, and lost to Victoria Azarenka in straight sets in last year’s final.

Venus Williams, seeded 12th, returns for the second straight year, having ended her own boycott of the event last year.

Also missing on the women’s side is Azarenka, who gave birth to a son in December; two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova after being attacked in a home invasion late last year; and Maria Sharapova, who is set to return in late April after serving a 15-month doping ban.

Top-seeded John Isner wins 3rd Hall of Fame title

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NEWPORT, R.I. — Top-seeded John Isner beat Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden 6-3, 7-6 (4) on Sunday for his third Hall of Fame Open title.

The hard-serving American also won the grass-court event in 2011 and 2012. He has 11th career titles, all at the ATP World Tour 250 level.

“It’s hard to win a tournament,” Isner said. “It’s no small feat to come out here and be the last man standing. I’m very happy about that. It’s been two years since I won a tournament, so I had that weighing on my mind.”

Isner became the second player to win an ATP title without facing a break point since records began in 1991. Tommy Haas also accomplished the feat in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2007.

“I’m very happy with how I played all week,” Isner said. “It was a perfect week and I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Ebden was playing his first tour-level final.

“It’s a lot of reward for a lot of hard work, a lot of years of sacrifice,” Ebden said. “It’s disappointing, but at the same time I have to be happy with my week.”

Roddick, Clijsters among Tennis Hall of Fame inductees

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NEWPORT, R.I. — Andy Roddick says jokingly he can now keep Roger Federer from a unanimous selection for the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

As a new inductee, Roddick gets to vote on future candidates. He jested ahead of his enshrinement on Saturday that he’ll use it to get back at Federer, who stood in his way during at least four Grand Slam finals.

Roddick joins inductees Kim Clijsters, six-time Paralympic medalist Monique Kalkman and journalist and historian Steve Flink. Tennis instructor and innovator Vic Braden was to be inducted posthumously.

Roddick won one Grand Slam and lost to Federer in the finals four times. He says he doesn’t ask himself what would have happened if he hadn’t come along at the same time of perhaps the greatest player.

He says the first text he got when he woke up Saturday was from Federer. Says Roddick: “He makes it extremely hard not to like him as a person.”