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Wozniacki defeats Williams for career best win at WTA finals

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SINGAPORE — Caroline Wozniacki won the biggest title of her career when she beat Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4 in the WTA Finals on Sunday.

The Dane completed the victory with a backhand down the line on a second match point for her 60th match victory of the season.

The 27-year-old Wozniacki’s best previous result at the WTA Finals was reaching the final in 2010.

Williams, who was hoping to win a 50th career title on Sunday, is the only player at this year’s WTA Finals who didn’t win a title during the season.

The 37-year-old Williams appeared in three finals at the five most prestigious tournaments of the season: the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and here in Singapore.

Williams, who won the WTA Finals title in 2008, had won all seven previous matches against Wozniacki.

“Eight is my lucky number so I was hoping if I was going to beat her at least once in my career it would be today,” Wozniacki said. “I just went out there and did my best.”

Wozniacki raced to a 5-0 lead in the second set before Williams mounted a late comeback attempt.

“I didn’t seem to come up with my best tennis until it was too late,” Williams said. “I’ll try to play a little better earlier next time. That might be a good plan.”

Woznicki dropped serve when she was serving for the first set at 5-3, and then dropped serve when serving for the match in the seventh and ninth games of the second set.

“I’m still shaking,” Wozniacki said. “I was up 5-0 and then Venus started upping her game. She went for her shots, started serving into my body. I’m just so happy I managed to win in the end.”

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.