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Venus Williams wins opening match at Wimbledon


LONDON — Venus Williams won her first tennis match since being sued by the estate of a Florida man who died after a car crash police say she caused.

The 10th-seeded Williams beat Elise Mertens 7-6 (7), 6-4 Monday in the first round at Wimbledon, a tournament the American has won five times.

Last week, Williams was sued by the estate of a Florida man who died 13 days after a car crash. The lawsuit came one day after Palm Beach Gardens police released a report saying Williams caused the June 9 crash.

On No. 1 Court, Williams had to wait through a 33-minute rain delay to win her opening match. She had two match points before the rain came. Play was stopped with Williams leading 5-3 and at 40-40 in the second set.

When play resumed, Mertens held serve to make it 5-4, but Williams served out the match.

Defending champion Andy Murray also won his opening match, beating Alexander Bublik 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

Rafael Nadal was due to play next on No. 1 Court, while Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion who was injured in a knife attack at her home late last year, was due next on Centre Court.

Second-seeded Simona Halep and No. 17 Madison Keys also won Monday. Halep, who lost in this year’s French Open final, beat Marina Erakovic of New Zealand 6-4, 6-1. Keys defeated Nao Hibino of Japan 6-4, 6-2.

Keys, who is right-handed, was playing for the first time since having a second surgery on her left wrist.

“It’s obviously not perfect,” Keys said. “I haven’t been able to do the repetitions that ideally I would have wanted to do, but it feels fine. Doesn’t hurt anymore. That’s really all I care about.”

In the men’s draw, Nick Kyrgios retired from his first-round match after losing the first two sets.

The 20th-seeded Australian was trailing Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France 6-3, 6-4 when he called for a trainer to work on his left hip. He then decided to stop the match.

Kyrgios also retired with an injury from his first-round match at Queen’s, a Wimbledon warm-up tournament.

“I kind of knew I was in trouble. I have been feeling my hip ever since I fell over at Queen’s. Never got it right,” Kyrgios said. “I was doing everything I could to help it, but just not enough time.”

Two-time semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also reached the second round. The 12th-seeded Frenchman beat Cameron Norrie of Britain 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

Ninth-seeded Kei Nishikori and 24th-seeded Sam Querrey also advanced.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

6-time champ Djokovic loses at Miami Open to Benoit Paire

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Novak Djokovic’s 16-match Key Biscayne winning streak ended, and his struggle to overcome a bothersome right elbow continued.

Djokovic lasted barely an hour at a tournament he has won six times, losing his opening match Friday in the Miami Open to Benoit Paire, 6-3, 6-4.

The defeat was Djokovic’s third in a row. He returned from a six-month injury absence at the Australian Open and lost in the fourth round, and was upset two weeks ago at Indian Wells by Taro Daniel, a 109th-ranked qualifier.

Against the 47th-ranked Paire, Djokovic dropped serve four times, returned poorly and had difficulty anticipating his crafty opponent’s drop shots.

In women’s play, Naomi Osaka’s breakthrough winning streak ended with a loss to No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-2. Osaka said began feeling ill before the match but didn’t want to retire after upsetting eight-time champion Serena Williams in the first round.

The 20-year-old Osaka is ranked a career-high 22nd and won her first career title last week at Indian Wells.

Djokovic sat out the last half of 2017 because of problems with his racket-swinging arm, saying it had been bothering him for more than a year. He was sidelined again after this year’s Australian Open and said he had a “small medical intervention” on his elbow.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion didn’t seem to favor it against Paire, but his shots lacked their usually snap and sometimes were awkwardly struck, including the last two on match point.

In the first set Djokovic served with a chance to reach 5-all, but from 40-0 he lost five consecutive points and the set. Another dismal stretch came when he was broken at love in the final game of the match.

The loss was Djokovic’s first at Key Biscayne since 2013. He missed last year’s Miami Open but won the title three consecutive years in 2014-16.

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

More AP tennis coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Top-ranked Halep wins tough 3-setter in Miami

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania struggled to post a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 second-round win over French lucky loser Oceane Dodin at the Miami Open on Thursday.

In the first career meeting between the players, Halep allowed the 98th-ranked Dodin to break her serve on six of seven opportunities she presented in the match, which lasted more than two hours.

Halep broke Dodin’s serve for the seventh time at 4-4 in the third set before closing it out.

Halep played in her third career Grand Slam final at the Australian Open in January, but has yet to secure a Grand Slam trophy.

Halep’s best Miami Open was reaching the 2015 semifinals.

Also Thursday, former No. 1 Angelique Kerber of Germany advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Johanna Larsson of Sweden.

Kerber is 19-4 this year and has reached at least the quarterfinals of all five tournaments she’s played.

Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open and U.S. Open champion, won her first tournament since that U.S. Open at Sydney in January. She also reached the Australian Open semifinals.