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Venus Williams holds off challenge from teen at Rogers Cup

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MONTREAL — Venus Williams advanced to the second round of the Rogers Cup after a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Caroline Dolehide on Monday.

The 14th-ranked Williams made quick work of her 19-year-old fellow American in the second set after coming from behind to win a back-and-forth first set.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion will now face either Sorana Cristea or Monica Niculescu in the second round.

It looked like an upset was in the cards in the early going. The 124th-ranked Dolehide, who was making her Rogers Cup debut, jumped to a 3-1 lead in the first set after breaking Williams’ serve. One of just two teenagers in the main draw, Dolehide used her heavy service game and aggressive play to challenge Williams on every point. She finished the match with three aces. Williams had none.

But the 38-year-old veteran broke Dolehide back to take a 4-3 lead, and she did it again in the deciding game of the first set.

Dolehide, one of 12 qualifiers in the main draw, just couldn’t maintain the same pace in the second set, as Williams only lost 11 points on her way to victory.

“It’s never easy to play somebody you haven’t played before, and she definitely has a lot of talent,” Williams said. “She took advantage of it and I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before she’s able to play even better than today.”

Dolehide earned spot in the main draw of the U.S. Open on Monday when Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia withdrew due to an injured right shoulder.

Rain moved into the area just before 7 p.m., interrupting two matches, including one in the first set between Russia’s Maria Sharapova and Bulgaria’s Sesil Karatantcheva.

With Sharapova leading 4-1 after 24 minutes of play, the match was delayed due to heavy rain and lightning.

Both players returned to the court three times to resume the match over the course of the three-hour delay, only for the rain to keep returning, forcing them back off the court.

Play was finally suspended at 10:30 p.m. The match will resume Tuesday.

The match between Canada’s Francoise Abanda and Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium, which was supposed to begin after Sharapova’s match, was also postponed to Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, Eugenie Bouchard and partner Sloane Stephens upset the fifth-seeded duo of Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 (6) in first-round doubles action.

“The reason I played doubles was to get more games under my belt,” Bouchard said. “It’s better than just a normal practice. I really worked on my service game, my volleys, my return. It can help with my singles game.

“Every victory can give you confidence.”

Bouchard has only played in six doubles matches this season, including three with Stephens.

In singles play, 29-year-old Julia Goerges of Germany avoided an early loss with a 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 win over Timea Babos of Hungary in a match that lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours. Goerges had 17 aces and five double faults to Babos’ eight and one, respectively.

Goerges will next face qualifier Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic in the second round.

In other singles matches, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic beat Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-4; Anett Kontaveit of Estonia defeated Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 4-6, 6-3, 6-1; and Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia cruised past Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 6-1, 6-0.

Serena Williams No. 17 seed for US Open, 1 spot behind Venus

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Serena Williams is seeded No. 17 for the U.S. Open, nine spots higher than her current ranking of No. 26.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced the seedings for the main draws of women’s and men’s singles on Tuesday.

Williams was put one place behind her older sister, Venus.

The draw for the tournament is Thursday. Play begins Monday.

This will be the third Grand Slam tournament of Williams’ return to competition since she gave birth to a daughter during the 2017 U.S. Open last September, then dealt with health complications.

The 23-time major champion, who turns 37 next month, was the runner-up at Wimbledon in July.

More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis

Want to vote for the Tennis Hall of Fame? Now you can

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Martina Hingis figures she wouldn’t have needed any help from fans to earn her spot in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Still, she likes the idea that folks around the world now will have a say in who gets elected.

“I would have hoped that people liked me and liked my game, liked my style, so hopefully that wouldn’t have made a difference to make it in or out,” Hingis said with a laugh during a phone interview. “I would have only hoped that it would only push me more. I would hope that in my case, it would have been pretty clear that I had made it.”

Her sport’s Hall will let fans help select its next inductees. Anyone will be able to submit an online ballot starting in late August for the Class of 2019.

The votes will then become part of the overall tally that determines which players are elected.

As in the past, members of the Hall of Fame, journalists and tennis historians will continue to be the primary selectors.

Inductees still will need to be named on 75 percent of the ballots to get in. But now, the top three recipients of votes from fans will get a “bonus” percentage that will be tacked on to what they are given by the main panel – 3 percent for the most popular candidate among the fans, 2 percent for second place, 1 percent for third.

So in the case of a candidate who is nearly approved by the Hall-chosen voters but did not quite garner enough support, the choices of people who watched from the stands or on TV could matter.

“You can help someone who maybe is close, almost there, with 74 percent, and then with 1 percent of the vote from the fans or 2 percent, you get to be a Hall of Famer, because people liked you and they followed you and they enjoyed your game,” said Hingis, who was a member of the Hall’s Class of 2013 and now serves as an ambassador for the shrine, which is in Newport, Rhode Island. “Without the fans, you wouldn’t have the sport.”

The nominees for the Class of 2019 will be announced this week. The fan vote results will be released in October, and the list of inductees will be announced in January.

Michael Stich and Helena Sukova are this year’s inductees.