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Venus Williams reaches semifinals at WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE — Venus Williams reached the semifinals at the WTA Finals by beating Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday.

The 37-year-old Williams advanced from the White Group along with Karolina Pliskova, who lost to French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-1. Both Williams and Pliskova finished with 2-1 records.

Williams, who first reached the No. 1 ranking in February 2002, was asked how she has managed to have such a long career.

“I use a lot of sun protection, sunscreen. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables,” Williams said. “That’s been the key to my success.”

Williams won the WTA Finals in 2008 and reached the final in 2009, which was the last time she appeared in the year-end tournament.

On Thursday, Muguruza made 32 unforced errors to 26 for Williams.

“I’m very proud of this year.” said Muguruza, who reached the No. 1 ranking for the first time this season. “I knew here that it’s going to be tough, the best eight players are playing.”

Pliskova led 3-2 in the first set of the early match, but the already-eliminated Ostapenko won the next seven games for a 6-3, 3-0 lead.

“Really tough to push myself into it and to play the best tennis if you know you’re qualified,” Pliskova said. “Wasn’t being ever in this situation, so I felt weird today.”

Pliskova, who earned the No. 1 ranking for the first time in her career after Wimbledon, remains in contention to finish the season at the top. Muguruza, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki also have a chance to become the year-end No. 1.

Karen Khachanov beats Lucas Pouille to win Open 13 final

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MARSEILLE, France (AP) Big-serving Karen Khachanov secured the second ATP title of his career after beating Lucas Pouille 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in the Open 13 final on Sunday.

The ninth-seeded Russian had 16 aces in a closely fought contest, winning on his second match point when the third-seeded Frenchman hit a forehand into the net from the back of the court. The pair hugged at the net in a show of sportsmanship.

“I hope there are many more finals between us in the future,” Khachanov said to Pouille. “I felt I was playing good here from the first day. It’s nice to play on a full court in the final, and I hope to come back next year.”

Khachanov, ranked 47th, won his second title in as many finals after clinching the Chengdu Open in China two years ago. Pouille missed out on a second title of the season and a sixth overall. The 16th-ranked Pouille was also runner-up at the indoor event in the southern seaport of Marseille last year.

“I’m from Dunkirk, in the north,” he told the crowd. “But I’m starting to feel at home here.”

As Khachanov held aloft the winners’ cheque for 115,150 euros ($141, 570), Pouille cracked a joke in English.

“You’ve got to pay the plane for Dubai now,” he said, looking ahead to next week’s ATP500 tournament. “Congratulations, I hope there are many more wins for you.”

Khachanov broke Pouille in the third game to take an early control. Pouille broke back with a fine backhand winner down the line to make it 5-5, but then lost his next service game as Khachanov whipped a forehand winner down the right side of the court.

It gave the imposing Russian a second chance to serve for the set and he clinched it with a strong service winner.

After saving two break points at 15-40 in the opening game of the second set, Pouille secured the only break of that set to level the match.

Khachanov hit nine aces in the third set and neither faced a break point until the 12th game on Pouille’s serve.

It gave Khachanov a match point but he missed a fairly routine smash at the net following a rally. Pouille double faulted to give him another chance to win.

Top-seeded defending champion Thiem tumbles out of Rio Open

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Top-seeded defending champion Dominic Thiem of Austria tumbled out of the Rio Open on Friday, falling 6-4, 6-0 to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals of the clay-court event.

Thiem won the Argentina Open on Sunday for his ninth career title.

Verdasco will play fifth-seeded Fabio Fognini of Italy or Alijaz Bedene of Slovenia.

In the other semifinal at Jockey Club Brasileiro, sixth-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina will face Chile’s Nicolas Jarry. Schwartzman beat France’s Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-4, and Jarry topped Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 7-5, 6-3.