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Kohlschreiber, Sandgren, Norrie, Struff reach Auckland semis

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Former champion Philipp Kohlschreiber defeated second-seeded Fabio Fognini again 6-3, 6-1 to reach the ASB Classic semifinals on Thursday.

Unseeded Kohlschreiber, who won the tournament in 2008, will have to go through Tennys Sandgren to reach another final in Auckland on his 12th visit.

The other semifinal will feature New Zealand-born Englishman Cameron Norrie, a wild card, against Jan-Lennard Struff. Norrie or Struff will reach his first ATP final.

Fognini called for the trainer at one point, and in the second set he made little effort to resist Kohlschreiber’s progress to his seventh win over the Italian in nine meetings.

“I’m still improving my game, even at 35 years old. I think you are still able to improve,” Kohlschreiber said.

He captured his first service break in the third game, held serve in the following game which lasted 10 minutes and contained five deuces, then clinched the set with relative comfort, breaking Fognini again in the ninth game.

Sandgren, an Australian Open quarterfinalist last year, defeated Leonardo Mayer 6-3, 7-6 (5) without facing a break point.

Sandgren had eight break-point chances but converted only one.

Norrie beat Taylor Fritz 7-6 (3), 6-3, and Struff beat fourth-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta 7-6 (5), 6-7 (8), 7-6 (9) in three hours to ensure no seeds reached the semifinals.

Serena, Osaka win opening matches in Miami

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Facing the setting sun, Serena Williams tried to shield her eyes with her left hand as she hit a shot, lost the point and then waved in frustration at the bothersome glare.

Later, after a seesaw victory in her first match at the Miami Open’s new site, she was able to joke about the unwanted spotlight.

“A lot of photographers came,” Williams said. “I thought, `This must be good light.’ I thought about taking a selfie, but you’ve got to stay in the moment.”

Williams played poorly for a stretch and was broken three times but steadied her game in the final set to beat Rebecca Peterson 6-3, 1-6, 6-1. She avoided a repeat of last year, when she was eliminated in the first round by Naomi Osaka.

That was Williams’ farewell to Key Biscayne, where she won eight titles. Only Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf have won any women’s tournament more times.

With the Miami Open’s move to the Dolphins’ stadium complex, players are adjusting to the unfamiliar setting. The No. 1-ranked Osaka beat qualifier Yanina Wickmayer 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-1, but she and Williams both found the mix of sun and shadows in the cavernous stadium a challenge.

“It was interesting,” Williams said. “First it was dark out there, which was really odd. The shadows were so intense it was dark, and then … there was light.”

She chuckled and said, “Whatever. I need to focus on playing better or not being in the tournament much longer.”

Osaka agreed that any issues with visibility weren’t worth complaining about. She hit 14 aces and overcame a ragged stretch in the second set, when she became so frustrated she threw her racket.

“I had a bit of a dip,” Osaka said. “It was really hard for me, I think, emotionally in the second set, because I just started thinking about winning, not exactly the things I could do in order to win.”

Williams’ match followed a similar pattern, but she regrouped after a flurry of errors in the second set.

“I said, `Serena, you can play a lot better than that,”‘ she said.

While the outer courts were crowded on a mild, cloudless afternoon, there were only a few thousand spectators for Williams’ match in the 13,800-seat stadium, with temporary stands on three sides and a net replacing the 50-yard line.

“It was a different court, but it was a beautiful court,” said Williams, who happens to own a small share of the Dolphins. “It’s so different from anything I’ve played on in my entire career, so I was super excited.”

The mood was mostly subdued, although when Williams whacked a backhand winner with a grunt that echoed in the upper deck, the fans added their own roar to hers.

The match victory was the 76th for Williams in the tournament, but she hasn’t won a Miami Open title since 2015. She hasn’t won any tournament since the 2017 Australian Open, before she took a break of more than a year to become a mom.

The match was her first since she retired at Indian Wells two weeks ago because of a viral illness.

On the men’s side, defending champion John Isner hit 20 aces, lost only 11 points on his serve and beat qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7).

No. 5-seeded Kei Nishikori was upset by Dusan Lajovic 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. Lajovic improved to 3-14 against top-10 players.

In other women’s play, Canadian 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu, who overcame a match point to win her opening match, reached the third round by beating No. 32 Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-3. Andreescu won her first career title last week at Indian Wells.

Defending Miami Open champion Sloane Stephens beat Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-3. Three-time champion Venus Williams overcame a wobbly start to beat No. 24 Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6 (4), 6-1.

Naomi Osaka wins opening match at Miami Open

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — No. 1-ranked Naomi Osaka won her opening match Friday at the new site of the Miami Open by beating qualifier Yanina Wickmayer 6-0, 6-7 (3), 6-1.

Osaka hit 14 aces and overcame a ragged stretch in the second set, when she became so frustrated she threw her racket. She regrouped and has now won 63 consecutive matches when she takes the first set.

The tournament moved this year from Key Biscayne to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium complex, and Osaka took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.

In men’s second-round play, No. 5-seeded Kei Nishikori was upset by Dusan Lajovic 2-6, 6-2, 6-3. Lajovic improved to 3-14 against top-10 players.

No. 16-seeded Gael Monfils, who has been hampered by an Achilles injury, withdrew before his opening match.