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Siegemund outlasts Venus Williams at Volvo Open

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — Laura Siegemund of Germany beat Venus Williams 6-4, 6-7 (3), 7-5 on Wednesday to win her second three-set match in three days and move on to the third round at the Volvo Car Open.

Down match point in the second set, Williams broke Siegemund as she served for the match and rallied to easily win the ensuing tie-breaker to set up the decisive third set. Williams was poised to complete the comeback, but Siegemund twice pulled back from a break and saved two match points as Williams served for the victory at 5-4, winning the final three games to reach the round of 16.

“I tried to keep up the pressure and tried to dominate the game as well as I could,” Siegemund said. “I think I worked my way well through the match. It was a close match, you know, it can go either way. I just tried to believe in my game, and if I was down, I told myself I was going to get more chances.”

Williams could only ponder what might have been.

“I tried my best to think this could be the best match she’ll ever play in her life, honestly,” Williams said. “I basically won the match but still lost.”

Elsewhere, Russian Daria Kasatkina outlasted Puerto Rican Olympic champion Monica Puig 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-2, and Shelby Rogers upset Madison Keys 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.

“I mean, she was all over my serve today,” Keys said. “I felt like that let me down, and I think she served well. And I feel like I just stopped doing what I should have. I feel like I did a pretty good job to get back in the first set, and I feel like I just stopped doing it. Then it kind of all slipped away from me pretty quick.”

Kasatkina, who came close to making the semifinals here last year, hit 19 winners with 18 unforced errors to finally escape after just over 2 hours on court. Puig hit more winners (25) but also had 41 errors, including on match point.

In other matches, Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko defeated Greece’s Maria Sakkari in three sets and Hungarian Fanny Stollar stunned No.4 seed Elena Vesnina, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3). Vesnina, of Russia, twice led a by a break in the opening set but struggled to convert break points. Stollar hit 13 aces to keep in front for most of the match.

Also: Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, defeated Germany’s Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-4; Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, defeated Magda Linette of Poland 6-4, 6-4; Daria Gavrilova of Australia defeated American Alison Riske 6-3, 6-1; Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands defeated Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 6-2, 7-5; Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia defeated Mona Barthel of Germany, 6-3, 6-2; Japan’s Naomi Osaka defeated Zhang Shuai of China 6-4, 6-4; Anastasia Rodionova of Australia defeated Sara Errani of Italy 6-2, 6-2; Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, defeated Kristina Kucova of Slovakia 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (6); Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic defeated Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States 6-3, 6-3.

Keys sends U.S. into second straight Fed Cup final

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AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France — Defending champion United States will play in a second consecutive Fed Cup final after defeating France on Sunday.

Madison Keys secured the decisive point for the visiting team by beating Pauline Parmentier 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the second reverse singles. Keys’ victory gave the defending champions an unassailable 3-1 lead over France in their semifinal.

The 13th-ranked Keys, a late replacement for CoCo Vandeweghe, came back from a 4-1 deficit in the first set and made the decisive break in the ninth game of the second set with two consecutive winners.

“The girls did so well, both today and yesterday. We are very fortunate to have such a strong group and now we are looking forward to what is going to be a great final,” U.S. captain Kathy Rinaldi said.

Parmentier fought hard until the end and saved two set points in the opener, but ultimately surrendered to Keys’ deep groundstrokes. The Frenchwoman had the chance to break back while trailing 5-4 in the second set but Keys used her big serve to win the next three points and seal the match.

The U.S. will play the Czech Republic in the final.

Earlier, Sloane Stephens had given a 2-1 lead to the U.S. with a 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of Kristina Mladenovic.

The U.S. Open champion delivered a ruthless display against the 20th-ranked Mladenovic and prevailed in 54 minutes. Stephens hit 16 winners and converted five of six break chances at the 6,700-capacity Arena Pays d’Aix on indoor clay.

“That was a really good one. You never anticipate a scoreline like the way it turned out but it was really solid,” Stephens said. She also won her first singles match on Saturday.

The Americans extended their winning record to 12-2 against the French.

The Czech Republic qualified for the final by defeating Germany 4-1 in Stuttgart.

Nadal beats Nishikori to win Monte Carlo Masters

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MONACO — Rafael Nadal won a record 31st Masters title after beating Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 in the Monte Carlo Masters final on Sunday.

Nadal also became the first man in the Open era to win the same title 11 times – 13 years after his first title here – and moved one ahead of rival Novak Djokovic for career Masters titles.

“It’s great to have this trophy in my hands again,” Nadal said.

It gave him a 76th title overall and ensured the Spaniard keeps his top ranking ahead of Roger Federer.

Nishikori was chasing a first Masters title, but the Japanese player took 11 minutes to hold for 1-1.

He got some brief hope, breaking Nadal with a superb passing shot at full stretch to lead 2-1, but meekly surrendered the next four games.

“I knew it was going to be tough even though I was up break,” said Nishikori, who complained of tiredness. “My legs were very heavy today, playing three sets (for) three days in a row (before the final). It wasn’t easy physically.”

The second set was a procession and Nadal won on his first match point with a stinging backhand winner.

Nadal’s celebration was brief and low key. He thrust both hands into the air, and then jogged over to offer Nishikori a sympathetic hug after beating him for the 10th time in 12 meetings.

Nishikori saved a set point with a sharp, angled volley at the net. But Nadal was in relentless mood and sealed it on his next chance with a crisp forehand winner.

“It’s not easy to describe when you are coming back from injury and you start the clay-court season in this way,” Nadal said.

Nishikori is still working his way back to form and full fitness, after missing the 2017 U.S. Open and this year’s Australian Open because of a torn tendon in his right wrist.

“It was a great week for me, I had an injury and couldn’t play for a long time,” said Nishikori, whose ranking has slipped to 36.

Nadal has not dropped a set in seven matches since coming back from a recurrence of a right hip injury that forced him to abandon during the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic.

The injury relapse subsequently forced him out of the Mexico Open and Masters tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami, but Nadal now looks back to his ruthless best on clay.

He has his sights firmly set on an 11th title at Barcelona next week and then an 11th French Open title at Roland Garros.