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Tiafoe wins first career ATP title at Delray Beach

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DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Frances Tiafoe won the Delray Beach Open, with father Frances Sr. watching, on Sunday for his first ATP Tour title.

The 91st-ranked Tiafoe, the first wild-card recipient to win the title in its 26-year history, had consecutive aces on the final two points for a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Peter Gojowczyk of Germany.

At 20, Tiafoe is the youngest American to win a title since Andy Roddick at 19 in 2002 in Houston.

Tiafoe fell on his back in celebration and cried as he hugged his father.

“Now I’m in a position not only to help myself, but help fund my family,” Tiafoe said. “It’s an unbelievable place to be in and it’s bigger than tennis.”

Tiafoe’s parents moved from Sierra Leone to the United States looking for a better life. The elder Tiafoe ended up working as a maintenance worker at a Maryland tennis club where the American-born Frances fell in love with the game. His twin brother, Franklin, wasn’t interested in the sport.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Frances Sr., who now frequently travels the tour with his son. “I told them since they were little, work hard and you can achieve your goal. I told him whatever you put your mind to you can do it.”

Tiafoe, who should move up to approximately No. 61 in Monday’s new rankings, was playing in his first career tour-level final at Delray Beach. He entered last week’s New York Open, where he reached the quarterfinals, with nine total career ATP tour-level match victories.

In this last two-weeks he has won seven tour matches. Among those recent victories is a second-round win over 10th-ranked Juan Martin del Potro this week.

Tiafoe was the last American to defeat the German, which took place at the 2016 Winnetka, Illinois Challenger event.

“I told you guys I was going to get him,” said Tiafoe, laughing. “All the guys were texting me, `You have to take him out.”‘

Gojowczyk had beaten his eight previous American opponents in ATP tour-level matches, including sixth-seeded John Isner, Reilly Opelka and Steve Johnson this week.

Overall, Gojowczyk had beaten the last 14 American players he faced in tour and non tour-level matches since that Winnetka loss to Tiafoe.

Gojowczyk was bothered by a left hamstring, which he said started during his semifinal against Johnson.

“It was not my day actually today,” Gojowczyk said. “But still it was a good week and I reached my career high (projected ranking of) 51 with this tournament.

“You want to compete, to go for the shots. And you want to play your best in the final.”

The first time Gojowczyk called for the trainer to wrap his thigh was when he was about to serve with Tiafoe leading 5-0 in the first set.

Kasatkina upsets Venus Williams to reach Indian Wells final

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) Daria Kasatkina upset Venus Williams 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in a nearly three-hour baseline struggle to reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night.

Kasatkina was two points from defeat, trailing 4-5 and 0-30 in the third set when Williams committed four straight errors as the 20-year-old Russian tied it 5-all.

Williams won just two more points as Kasatkina took the last two games to close out the match in 2 hours, 48 minutes. Kasatkina dropped her racket near the baseline and covered her face with her hands as she walked to the net.

After shaking hands, Kasatkina pumped her fists and shook her head slightly as if in disbelief at beating the 37-year-old American and advancing to the biggest final of her young career.

Top-ranked Simona Halep took on Naomi Osaka, a 20-year-old from Japan, in the other semifinal.

After losing the first set, Kasatkina was visited by her coach on court. Philippe Dehaes told her, “She’s 37, you’re 20. Make her work a lot.”

When she wasn’t trading shots from the baseline, a nervy Kasatkina fooled Williams with drop shots, including two that landed just over the net near the sideline. The Russian tossed up lobs over the 6-foot-1 American – some worked, some didn’t, but she was undeterred.

There were 14 service breaks in the match.

Williams rallied from 3-1 down to win the first set. She trailed 3-1 again in the second and tied it 3-all when Kasatkina was broken on a double fault.

Kasatkina won the last four games in a row to take the second set. The players dueled through eight deuces in an epic eighth game, with the Russian turning back six break points against her. Williams pulled a forehand wide to lose the game.

Kasatkina’s coach visited her again before the third set.

“You go for it?” he asked her.

“Sure,” she replied, and they slapped hands.

Williams served a love game to go up 5-4. She led love-30 on Kasatkina’s serve in the next game before her forehand deserted her.

Williams double-faulted twice in a row to drop serve and trail 6-5. Kasatkina won on her second match point when Williams netted a backhand.

Kasatkina now owns a 2-1 record against Williams, who won 10-8 in the third round at Wimbledon in 2016.

Juan Martin del Potro defeated No. 31 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Milos Raonic beat 18th-seeded American Sam Querrey 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to reach the men’s semifinals.

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

Maria Sharapova withdraws from Miami with forearm injury

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KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the Miami Open that begins next week because of a left forearm injury.

Sharapova announced the decision on Friday. She’ll be replaced in the main draw by American Jennifer Brady.

Sharapova lost in the first round at Indian Wells last week and in the third round of the Australian Open in January. She returned to the tour last year after a 15-month doping ban.

The women’s field includes eight-time Key Biscayne champion Serena Williams and No. 1-ranked Simona Halep. The men’s field includes defending champion Roger Federer and six-time Key Biscayne champ Novak Djokovic.