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Venus Williams reaches Wimbledon semifinals for 10th time

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LONDON — Playing at Wimbledon for the 20th time, Venus Williams is in the semifinals for the 10th time.

The five-time champion at the All England Club advanced to the last four for the second year in a row by beating Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 7-5 Tuesday under a closed roof on Centre Court.

Williams, who is 37 years old, made her Wimbledon debut in the same month that Ostapenko was born. She last won the title in 2008, but reached the semifinals last year and the Australian Open final this year.

“I love it. I try really hard,” Williams said of tennis. “There’s no other explanation. You do your best while you can. That’s what I’m doing.”

Williams will next face either second-seeded Simona Halep or Johanna Konta on Thursday. In the other women’s semifinal match, Garbine Muguruza will play either CoCo Vandeweghe or Magdalena Rybarikova. Muguruza beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-4 on No. 1 Court.

Konta was next to play on Centre Court against Halep. On Court No. 1, Rybarikova was playing Vandeweghe.

On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic advanced to the quarterfinals by beating Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-4. That match, the first to be played under the roof on Centre Court at this year’s tournament, was postponed from Monday.

Williams went up a break early in both sets against Ostapenko, the French Open champion. But the 20-year-old Latvian broke back in the second set and pushed the score to 5-5. A few unforced errors later, though, and Williams broke again for a 6-5 lead before serving out the match.

Williams ended up with eight aces and only 13 winners. Ostapenko had one ace and 20 winners.

“Been working on that serve,” Williams said. “It’s working out for me just in time, just for these later rounds. I’d like to think that I can continue to rely on that as the matches continue.”

In the first match, Djokovic was up a break in the third set when he asked for a medical timeout and a trainer examined and stretched his right shoulder. The second-seeded Serb appeared to grimace in pain a couple of times as his shoulder was being checked.

“It’s been something that I’ve been dragging back and forth for a while now,” Djokovic said. “But I’m still managing to play, which is the most important thing.”

Djokovic was broken only once, in the second set. But the 12-time major champion, who won the Wimbledon title in 2011, `14 and `15, broke Mannarino early in the third and advanced to the quarterfinals at the All England Club for the ninth time.

Mannarino has never before reached the quarterfinals at any of the four Grand Slam tournaments. He also lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2013. Last year, he lost to Djokovic in the second round at Wimbledon, also in straight sets.

Djokovic will face 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych, a man he has beaten 25 times in 27 matches, on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. One of those losses, however, was in the Wimbledon semifinals in 2010.

“He’s someone that understands the occasion of playing big matches, big tournaments,” Djokovic said. “He will not get overwhelmed by the stadium or whatever. He’s been there so many years. He’s got experience.”

The men traditionally have Tuesday off at Wimbledon, but Rafael Nadal’s five-set loss to Gilles Muller on Monday forced Djokovic’s match to be pushed back a day.

The rain then started at about 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The opening match on Centre Court was due to start at noon, so the roof was closed for the first time this year. The rain came and went into the afternoon, forcing the delay of the first women’s quarterfinal match on No. 1 Court.

There was a brief rain delay on the opening day of the tournament, but the roof stayed open and the rain went away.

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

This story has been corrected to show that Venus Williams made her debut at Wimbledon in the same month that Jelena Ostapenko was born, not a few months before.

Tsonga levels for France in Davis Cup final against Belgium

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LILLE, France (AP) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga swept past Steve Darcis 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 to put France level with Belgium on the opening day of the Davis Cup final on Friday.

Tsonga’s comfortable win over the 76th-ranked Darcis evened the tie at 1-1 ahead after Belgium’s top player David Goffin had dispatched Lucas Pouille in straight sets.

Tsonga missed several chances to move ahead early in the first set but finally broke for a 5-3 lead with a deep forehand attack on his fourth break point. The Frenchman then claimed five consecutive games and served out the second set at love with a drop shot that hit the net cord and dribbled over for a winner.

Tsonga continued to play consistent and occasionally brilliant tennis in the third, including a series of reflex volleys.

Dimitrov defeats Goffin to win ATP Finals title

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LONDON — Grigor Dimitrov claimed the biggest title of his career at the season-ending ATP Finals on Sunday, prevailing on his fifth match point to beat David Goffin of Belgium 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

“It’s such an honor to play here,” Dimitrov said. “This week has been one of the best I’ve ever had.”

The sixth-seeded Bulgarian won in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 15 seconds for the longest final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008.

Dimitrov won all five of his matches at the O2 Arena to become the first player to win the elite tournament on debut since 1998, when Alex Corretja of Spain triumphed in Hanover.

Goffin saved three match points on his own serve, but Dimitrov kept his cool, taking the second opportunity on his own delivery to close it out.

By reaching the final, Dimitrov had already secured a career-high No. 3-ranking to end the year. Goffin also moves up to a career-best No. 7.

The final lasted more than 11 minutes longer than Roger Federer took to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2011. It was a nervous start as both players failed to hold serve in the opening three games before Goffin settled down to control the opener as Dimitrov struggled with his timing.

However, Dimitrov fought his way back into the set. He leveled in the eighth game before breaking once more in the 12th to snatch the set in which Goffin hit eight more winners.

Dimitrov’s confidence carried into the second set, where he brought up the first break point in the sixth game, only for Goffin to produce a stunning cross-court backhand winner to save it. The momentum back with him, Goffin broke the following game for a 4-3 lead and calmly closed out the set.

Having come from behind to beat Federer in Saturday’s semifinal, Goffin had every reason to be confident and could have gone ahead. But he wasted four break points in the opening game – they would turn out to be his only chances in the decider.

Dimitrov was more clinical, striking in the sixth game to take control. Goffin tested Dimitrov’s nerve by saving three match points on his own serve, before saving one on Dimitrov’s. However the Belgian’s resistance came to an end as he netted a backhand volley, leaving Dimitrov in tears.

(This story has been corrected to show it was the longest three-set final since the tournament returned to a three-set format in 2008, not longest three-set final ever.)