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Venus loses to Kontaveit in round 1 of Madrid Open

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MADRID (AP) Venus Williams lost to Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in the first round of the Madrid Open on Saturday.

Kontaveit rallied from a set down to beat the eighth-seeded Williams 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 on the outdoor clay court.

“I’d lost to her two times already, and so I had nothing to lose,” Kontaveit said. “I didn’t go out there feeling scared. I do feel like I can challenge anybody here, so I was feeling good to go on the court.”

Kontaveit was coming off a semifinal run in Stuttgart last week. Williams was playing her first clay match of the year, though she has passed the second round only once in Madrid.

Fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina beat Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-2 after breaking her serve five times.

Irina-Camelia Begu beat fifth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-3, and Kristina Mladenovic also upset 12th-seeded Coco Vandeweghe 7-5, 6-0.

Sixth-seeded Karolina Pliskova and seventh-seeded Caroline Garcia advanced.

Two-time defending champion and top-ranked Simona Halep opens on Sunday, along with Gabrine Muguruza, Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova.

Larsson beats Riske to win Nuremberg Cup

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NUREMBERG, Germany — Swedish player Johanna Larsson won her first WTA singles title in three years by beating Alison Riske of the United States 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the final of the Nuremberg Cup on Saturday.

Her only other career singles victory was on home soil at Bastad in 2015.

Having come from a set down to win matches in the quarterfinals and semifinals, Larsson rallied from a break down in the first set and won the last four points of the tiebreaker. Larsson then won the final five games to take the match and deny Riske a second career singles title.

“When I held for 4-2, I could see some signs that she was a little bit tired,” Larsson said, “and that gave me a lot of energy to fight back.”

Pavlyuchenkova labors past Cibulkova to win at Strasbourg

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STRASBOURG, France — Third-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia won the Strasbourg International after laboring to a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (6) win against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia on Saturday.

They spent 3 hours, 35 minutes on court in a grueling contest, which ended when Pavlyuchenkova sealed victory on her second serve.

Pavlyuchenkova won her first title of the year and 12th overall, beating Cibulkova for the fourth time in their 11 career meetings.

Fifth-seeded Cibulkova was bidding for her ninth career title.

Both players head to the French Open in Paris, where first-round play starts Sunday.

Cibulkova reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2009, while Pavlyuchenkova reached her only quarterfinal there in 2013.