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Top-seeded Stephens rallies to advance in Acapulco

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ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) Top-seeded Sloane Stephens rallied to beat Dutch qualifier Arantxa Rus 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-0 on Wednesday night to reach the Mexico Open quarterfinals.

Rafael Nadal withdrew before his opening match, saying he neeeds more time to recover from a hip injury. The second-ranked Spanish star hasn’t played since retiring in the Australian Open quarterfinals.

Stephens saved a match point in the second-set tiebreaker against the left-hander. The American won the U.S. Open last year for her first Grand Slam title and took the Acapulco hardcourt event in 2016. She’ll face Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele, a 6-3, 6-4 winner over Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Second-seeded Kristina Mladenovic also overcame a slow start to advance, beating Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia 3-6, 6-3, 7-5. Mladenovic will play seventh-seeded Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine, a 6-3, 6-1 winner over Arina Rodionova of Australia.

Third-seeded Daria Gavrilova of Australia beat Mexico’s Renata Zarazua 7-5, 6-3 to set up a match against Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay. Royg beat No. 5 Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 7-6 (3), 6-1.

Fourth-seeded Zhang Shuai of China faced Jil Teichmann of Switzerland in a late match.

In men’s play, second-seeded Alexander Zverev beat fellow German Peter Gojowczyk 7-6 (6), 6-3. Zverev will face Ryan Harrison of the United States. Harrison edged Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.

Third-seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria topped Denis Shapovalov of Canada 6-2, 6-3. The Argentina Open winner two weeks ago on clay, Thiem will face the winner of a late match between sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina and David Ferrer of Spain.

Fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson of South Africa faced France’s Adrian Mannarino in another late match. Anderson won the New York Open two weeks ago.

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.