Roger Federer dazzles in first career Bay Area appearance

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) From his knees at the middle of the net, Roger Federer struck volley after volley right back at Jack Sock until the American star finally faltered. Federer just smiled.

He’s the best in the world at age 36.

Earlier, Federer emerged from the tunnel of smoke and walked onto the court greeted by roars and thousands of camera phones held high for the first Bay Area appearance of his career.

Even if this doubles match didn’t officially count Monday night, it sure mattered to all of the children in Africa who Federer is committed to helping through his foundation.

Federer waved every which way, held his racket in the air and beamed when introduced during warmups with the announcement at the sold-out SAP Center that he had regained the No. 1 world ranking.

He entertained from the start, too, praising Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates as a perfect partner.

“He knows numbers very well. He never makes mistakes on the scores,” Federer cracked. “I’ll do the running and Bill does the thinking.”

He joked to opponent Savannah Guthrie of NBC’s “TODAY” show: “You have to start looking at the ball and stop looking at me.”

Federer called off Gates with, “That’s mine … that’s mine, too,” before Sock lobbed a winner over Gates that Federer couldn’t chase down. Federer and Gates took the match 6-3.

Federer’s “The Match for Africa” exhibition sold more than 15,000 tickets to benefit his foundation that supports education for children in Africa.

“This match for Africa is something extraordinary,” Sock said.

The Swiss star, who at 36 is the oldest men’s player to be No. 1, won the Australian Open in January for his 20th Grand Slam title.

Federer and Gates also teamed up last year in Seattle.

Sock joked beforehand, “Don’t hit it to Roger … I’m winless against him for my career.”

A video promoting the match featured Federer training Gates, from weight lifting – lunges with a heavy bar over his shoulders – to studying a tennis book and both ping-pong and tennis practice to work on his reflexes and skills.

“You’ll train like I do,” Federer said. “You are ready.”

And Gates, dressed in a bright pink polo, drew oohs and aahs as he impressed with his shot-making and hustle to keep points alive.

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.