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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.

Nadal doesn’t see himself skipping tournaments like Federer

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MONACO (AP) For now, Rafael Nadal doesn’t see himself skipping any major tournaments the way Roger Federer has been sitting out the French Open.

The veterans are back at the top of world tennis, with Nadal needing to win the Monte Carlo Masters this week to avoid losing his top ranking once again to Federer in their seemingly eternal battle for tennis supremacy.

For the second consecutive season, the 36-year-old Federer is skipping the entire clay-court season in order to be at his best on grass.

After coming back from injury to win the Australian Open last year, Federer skipped the clay-court season, won Wimbledon, and retained his Melbourne crown to extend his record tally to 20 majors.

The Swiss star is keeping his aging body fresher by playing a bit less – avoiding Nadal on clay at Roland Garros or elsewhere – and it is working for him.

But Nadal still thinks he can play a full schedule.

“There (are) tournaments that I can’t imagine missing on purpose, because (they are) tournaments that I love to play,” Nadal said on Wednesday. “I don’t see myself missing Monte Carlo on purpose. I don’t see myself missing Wimbledon on purpose, or the U.S. Open, or Australian, or Rome. These kind of events, I don’t see missing (them).”

The 31-year-old Spaniard recently returned from a right hip injury which forced him to retire during the fifth set of his Australian Open quarterfinal against Marin Cilic.

With his 32nd birthday coming up on June 3 – during the French Open – the 16-time Grand Slam champion accepts he may think differently when he gets closer to Federer’s age.

“Of course, when you get older, you need to adjust a little bit more the efforts and the calendar. But for me (it) is difficult to say I don’t play, for example, grass, or I don’t play hard (courts),” Nadal said. “(It) is not in my plan, but I can’t say `never’ because I cannot predict what’s going to be in the future.”

Nadal is chasing an 11th title at both Monte Carlo and Roland Garros, which begins on May 27.

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

Jerome Pugmire on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

Thiem reaches third round at Monte Carlo

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MONACO — Dominic Thiem saved a match point and beat Andrey Rublev of Russia 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday.

Rublev was serving for the match at 5-4, 40-30 but hit a forehand narrowly wide. Fifth-seeded Thiem broke him with backhand pass down the line and held for 6-5.

The Austrian was 15-40 up on Rublev’s serve and clinched victory on his first match point, when Rublev double-faulted with a weak serve into the net.

“I was 10 centimeters from being out of the tournament,” a relieved Thiem said. “But I’m happy that I played two hours and 40 (minutes).”

Thiem has reached the French Open semifinals for the past two years. He next meets 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic or Borna Coric of Croatia, who play their second-round match on Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to watching Djokovic and Coric in front of the TV, and then playing the winner on Thursday,” Thiem said.

In the second round later Tuesday, fourth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria faced Pierre-Hugues Herbert and seventh-seeded Lucas Pouille played Mischa Zverev.

In remaining first-round play, there were wins for Gilles Simon of France, Marco Cecchinato of Italy and Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.