Venus tops Serena in straight sets at Indian Wells

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Venus Williams defeated younger sister Serena 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday night, her first win in the sibling rivalry since 2014.

It was the sisters’ earliest meeting since a 17-year-old Venus beat 16-year-old Serena in the second round of the 1998 Australian Open. They played Monday night for the first time since last year’s Australian Open final, when a pregnant Serena won her 23rd Grand Slam title.

Venus closed out the 1 1/2-hour match on her second match point when Serena’s forehand service return sailed long. It was one of Serena’s 41 unforced errors, including 17 on the forehand side.

Serena still owns a 17-12 advantage overall, although Venus evened their WTA Tour head-to-head meetings at 7-7.

“I really abhor every time we play, but I do enjoy the battle when I’m out there,” Serena said last weekend. “It’s just afterwards I don’t like it as much.”

It was obvious at the net when they greeted each other with a one-arm hug and neither smiled. Venus did her usual victory pirouette, but still didn’t smile.

A stone-faced Serena exited the court to cheers, pointing her right index finger in the air.

Serena was back on the WTA Tour for the first time since ending a 14-month absence during which she gave birth to daughter Alexis Jr. and married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who sat courtside.

Typically, the sisters wouldn’t meet until the later rounds of a tournament. But 36-year-old Serena was unseeded in this event. Venus, 37, is seeded eighth.

Serena won her first two matches, while Venus received a first-round bye and won her opening match.

The Indian Wells match was 17 years in the making.

The sisters were supposed to play each other in the desert in 2001. A packed stadium awaited their semifinal but shortly before the match was to begin Venus withdrew with a right knee injury.

Serena went on to play Kim Clijsters in the final. Venus and her father Richard were greeted with boos as they made their way to their seats, with some fans believing Richard had been behind Venus’ withdrawal.

Richard Williams said he heard racial slurs from the crowd and he paused to shake his fist at them. Serena was booed throughout the final before she beat Clijsters in three sets for her second title in the desert.

After that, the sisters boycotted Indian Wells for 14 years. Serena came back in 2015 only to withdraw with a knee injury before her semifinal, and Venus followed the next year.

Both sisters have been greeted warmly by fans each time they’ve played here since that turbulent time.

 

Giron cruises in 3rd set, beats Rybakov at Dallas Open

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
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DALLAS – Marcos Giron advanced to the second round of the Dallas Open with a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 victory over Alex Rybakov on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Giron, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural event a year ago, responded quickly after failing to close out the second set, winning the first five games of the deciding set.

Rybakov broke his fellow American when Giron was serving for the match in the second set. Then Rybakov won the first six points of the second-set tiebreaker.

“I’m really happy with how I was able to reset in the third and just get back to the game plan from the beginning and elevate,” Giron said. “He played well and served well and kind of hung in there.”

Eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France won the final five points of a first-set tiebreaker and the last four games of the second to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (6), 6-2.

J.J. Wolf, the No. 6 seed, had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow American Brandon Holt.

John Isner, the fifth seed and unofficial tournament host in his hometown event, played later Tuesday. Like Giron, Isner lost in the semifinals last year.

Sock wins at Dallas Open, set to face top-seeded Fritz

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DALLAS – Wild-card entry Jack Sock opened with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Dallas Open, setting up a second-round meeting with top-seeded fellow American Taylor Fritz.

Sock broke Ivashka’s serve in the final game to win the match. Ivashka fell behind 2-0 to start the final set but broke Sock to get back on serve.

Down a break early in the second set, Ivashka rallied to force the deciding set after Sock cruised in the first-set tiebreaker.

The eighth-ranked Fritz is back for the second Dallas Open after losing in the semifinals as the top seed in the inaugural edition of the indoor hard-court event last year. Defending champion Reilly Opelka isn’t in the field.