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Venus Williams beats No. 1 Kerber in Miami Open quarters

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. — Venus Williams moved a step closer to her first Key Biscayne title since 2001 when she beat top-ranked Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-3 Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the Miami Open.

It was Williams’ 15th career win against a No. 1 player, but her first since 2014. Seeded No. 11, she’s into the tournament’s semifinals for the first time in seven years.

Williams’ opponent Thursday night will be No. 10-seeded Johanna Konta, who became the first British woman to reach a semifinal in the tournament by beating No. 3 Simona Halep 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-2. No. 2 Karolina Pliskova will play No. 12 Caroline Wozniacki in the other semifinal.

Williams took charge of her quarterfinal match when Kerber double-faulted on the final two points of the opening set, and broke serve twice more early in the second set. She closed out the victory on her fifth match point with a backhand winner.

It was a matchup of offense against defense, with Williams the more aggressive player, charging the net often. Kerber stayed rooted to the baseline and was on the defensive even when she served, facing 13 break points and losing serve five times.

The German will remain No. 1 next week despite her loss. She reclaimed the top ranking this month after Indian Wells, replacing Serena Williams, who is sidelined by a knee injury.

Venus Williams improved to 61-13 at Key Biscayne, where she is making her 18th appearance. She won the title in 1998, 1999 and 2001 and considers the tournament her hometown event – she lives 90 minutes north in Palm Beach Gardens.

At 36, Williams was the oldest woman to enter the draw, but she hasn’t been taxed physically while winning every set in her four matches.

On the men’s side, Fabio Fognini became the first unseeded player in 10 years to reach the men’s semifinals at Key Biscayne when he beat 2016 runner-up Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2. Fognini, 29, who matched his best showing in an ATP Masters 1000 event, will next play the winner of Wednesday night’s match between Rafael Nadal and Jack Sock.

Nishikori was seeded No. 2. Fognini improved to 9-44 against top-10 players, and became the first Italian man to reach a semifinal at Key Biscayne.

Elina Svitolina could miss Wimbledon with foot injury

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BIRMINGHAM, England — Elina Svitolina was eliminated in the second round of the Aegon Classic on Thursday, losing to Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the second round.

Svitolina, a 22-year-old Ukrainian who recently broke into the top 10, said a foot injury could force her to skip Wimbledon.

“There is a question about it,” Svitolina said. “I will talk with my physios. The season is very long and I must look at the bigger picture.

“The heel feels painful and is very sensitive. I am disappointed I am out of the tournament but I am not disappointed with my performance, because I could not show even 50 percent. Also the court was slippery which is bad for the foot.”

Giorgi will next face Ashleigh Barty in the quarterfinals.

The Aegon Classic originally boasted seven of the world’s top 10 players, but four withdrew with injuries. It has now lost the two top seeded players who started the tournament, Svitolina and Dominika Cibulkova.

Marin Cilic through to quarterfinals at Queen’s Club Championships

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LONDON — Marin Cilic avoided becoming the latest seeded player to depart early at Queen’s by beating Stefan Kozlov 6-0, 6-4 Thursday and advancing to the quarterfinals at the Wimbledon warm-up event.

The fourth-seeded Cilic is the top player left following the first-round exits of Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic – the top three seeded players. Fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is also out.

Cilic, the 2012 champion at Queen’s, lost only 10 points in the first set and didn’t face a break point in the match against the 19-year-old Kozlov.

“At a tournament like this, we have so many great grass-court players,” Cilic said of the slew of upsets so far at Queen’s. “Considering it’s also one of the first weeks on grass, it’s always very tricky.”

Cilic will play another American, Donald Young, in the last eight.