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Easy going: Williams crushes Beck to reach 4th round

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LONDON —¬†Serena Williams will still get a decent day’s rest on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon.

The defending champion and six-time winner overwhelmed Annika Beck 6-3, 6-0 in just 51 minutes on Centre Court early Sunday afternoon, advancing to the fourth round with her 300th career Grand Slam match win.

Williams, who compiled a 25-2 edge in winners, wasn’t aware of the 300-win milestone until she was asked about it in a post-match interview.

“Was it? Cool. Oh, nice,” she said with a laugh. “I had no idea. That’s awesome, right? That’s good, right? I think that’s a lot of matches.”

Williams’ latest win breaks a tie at 299 wins with Chris Evert and now ranks second in the Open era behind Martina Navratilova, who went 306-49.

For only the fourth time in Wimbledon’s 139-year history, play was scheduled on the middle Sunday, which is the traditional rest day, because of rain delays in the first week that caused a backlog of matches.

“Obviously I love having that Sunday off but I’m a little behind in my matches, so I guess I had to play an extra day,” Williams said.

She didn’t have to work very hard as she completely dominated the 43rd-ranked Beck, who has never been past the third round here.

After falling an early break behind at 2-1, Williams won 11 of the last 12 games and 24 of the second set’s 28 points. She finished the first set with one of her seven aces and served out the match at love.

“I still want to get out to a little bit of a faster start,” Williams said. “But I was really focused and calm today.”

Williams will next face No. 13 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who came from behind to beat No. 22 Sloane Stephens 6-7 (1), 6-2, 8-6 to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2008. The 2 1/2-hour match started on No. 1 Court long before Williams and Beck began play on Centre – and finished after.

Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion, has reached the quarterfinals here three times, but the last time was back in 2007.

CoCo Vandeweghe, making a strong run at Wimbledon for the second year in a row, beat No. 7 Roberta Vinci of Italy 6-3, 6-4 in the first match on Centre Court. The 27th-seeded American advanced to the quarterfinals here last year before losing to Maria Sharapova in three sets. This is the first time she’s been seeded at a Grand Slam.

“Roberta’s a really tough opponent,” Vandeweghe said. “She has a lot of craftiness to her game that you don’t see too much. She makes you beat her. So that’s what I tried to do, stay focused and keep pressing.”

Her fourth-round opponent will be 23rd-seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, who downed No. 11 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 6-3, 6-2. Bacsinszky made it to the quarterfinals last year, but failed to break serve once on Sunday.

Also advancing was 50th-ranked Elena Vesnina, who beat 225th-ranked American qualifier Julia Boserup 7-5, 7-5. The Russian previously reached the fourth round here in 2009.

All 22,000 tickets for Sunday’s play were snapped up in 27 minutes when they went on sale online on Saturday.

The tournament is still reverberating from the stunning exit of Novak Djokovic, whose bid for a fifth consecutive major title and the third leg of a calendar-year Grand Slam was stopped by American Sam Querrey in the third round.

Madison Keys rallies late to take 1st Cincinnati title

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MASON, Ohio (AP) Madison Keys rallied late in both sets and beat Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5, 7-6 (5) for her first Cincinnati championship Sunday, sending her into the U.S. Open on a one-week upswing.

By winning her first hardcourt final since the 2017 U.S. Open, she’ll be No. 10 when she returns to New York. Keys entered the tournament on a streak of early flameouts in her last three tournaments.

At 34, Kuznetsova was the oldest finalist in the Western & Southern Open’s history. Keys broke her late in both sets to win the title. Kuznetsova beat three top-10 players during the week, her best showing of a season that started late as she recovered from a knee injury.

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Djokovic loses in Cincinnati

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MASON, Ohio (AP) Ashleigh Barty’s chance to move back to No. 1 was only one victory away. At the end of an up-and-down week, she didn’t have another comeback left.

Neither did Novak Djokovic, who went away with yet another disappointment in Cincinnati.

Barty lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open on Saturday. Djokovic ended the day with another stunner, getting overwhelmed by Daniil Medvedev’s serve as the Russian pulled out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

It’s been that kind of week in Cincinnati, with top players in both brackets either struggling or hurt heading into the U.S. Open.

The women’s bracket has a lot questions with New York just around the corner. No. 1 isn’t one of them.

Barty’s seven-week run atop the field ended when Naomi Osaka edged ahead of her in the latest ranking. A victory Saturday would have moved Barty back ahead for the U.S. Open. Instead, she dropped the opening set for the third straight match and this time, there was no digging out.

“A week that we battled through,” Barty said. “I think at times I played some good stuff. At times, I played some pretty awful stuff.”

Which will it be for Barty at the Open? And will Osaka be in good enough shape to defend her title?

Osaka dropped out of her semifinal match Friday with discomfort in her left knee that caused her worry. She still plans to play in New York, but it’s unclear whether the knee will be a problem.

And then there’s Serena Williams, who retired in the finals at Toronto last Sunday because of back spasms. She also withdrew from Cincinnati before her first match, but stuck around to cheer sister Venus until her loss in the quarterfinals.

A resurgent Kuznetsova gave Barty no openings, knocking off a top-five player for the second time this week to reach her first final of the season. The 153rd-ranked player is recovering from seven-month layoff because of a knee injury.

In her ninth tournament of the season, she got her game together, winning her first Premier-level semifinal since 2017 at Madrid.

“Well, sometimes in life it’s like this,” Kuznetsova said. “It’s like really small things change everything. Definitely it’s different momentum I have now.”

She’ll face Madison Keys , who beat Sofia Kenin 7-5, 6-4 with the help of 14 aces. Keys ended her streak of failing to make it past the second round of her last three tournaments, playing through heat and humidity all week without problem.

“I feel really good” she said. “Every day I’m kind of waking up, hoping that everything still feels like it’s in one piece and it feels really good.”

In the men’s bracket, Djokovic overcame concerns about his right elbow but couldn’t prevail over Medvedev’s 14 aces. Djokovic got the muscles around his right elbow rubbed during his quarterfinal win on Friday night and showed no sign of a problem a day later.

Djokovic won the tournament for the first time last year, getting the only Masters 1000 title that had eluded him. This one slipped away in the second set.

Medvedev reached the final at Montreal last week and lost to Rafael Nadal. He’s back to a title match again after fighting off a break point midway through the second set and closing with a flurry, winning 12 of the last 14 points to even the match and take the momentum.

He’ll face David Goffin, who reached his first Masters 1000 final by beating Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-4 . Goffin also is on an upswing after falling to No. 33 in the ATP rankings on June 10, his lowest since September 2014.

“Of course, it was a tough period there,” Goffin said. “I was coming back from injuries. I had some trouble with my confidence. I couldn’t find my rhythm, my game. So it’s great now. I’m feeling great. I’m back at my best tennis.”

The men’s bracket also took several notable hits throughout the week.

Originally billed as a reunion of the Big Four – Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray together for the first time since January – it quickly lost its luster. Nadal dropped out after winning the Rogers Cup, citing fatigue. Murray played singles for the first time since hip surgery in January and lost his opening match.

And Federer, the seven-time champion, failed to reach the weekend, losing in the quarterfinals.

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