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Serena, Halep win; Stephens ousted at Indian Wells

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Serena Williams beat Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-3 in just over two hours in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night.

Both players returned from maternity leave a year ago at the desert tournament. Since then, Williams has reached two Grand Slam finals and returned to the world’s top 10.

Azarenka is still seeking to restore order in her personal life, having been involved in a legal tussle over her young son.

Williams needed just over two hours to close out the match in which she had four aces and nine double faults. She saved 11 of 15 break points.

Earlier, Sloane Stephens lost to Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland 6-3, 6-0 in just over an hour.

The fourth-seeded American committed 32 unforced errors while Voegele had four aces playing in windy conditions. Voegele improved to 4-1 against the 2017 U.S. Open champion.

No. 2 seed Simona Halep beat Barbora Strycova 6-2, 6-4. Other seeded winners were: No. 12 Ashleigh Barty, No. 20 Garbine Muguruza, No. 22 Jelana Ostapenko, and No. 18 Qiang Wang.

Stephens wasn’t the only seed to be ousted on the women’s side.

No. 14 Daria Kasatkina, a finalist last year, lost to Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 6-1; No. 19 Caroline Garcia lost to Jennifer Brady 6-3, 3-6, 6-0; No. 27 Su-Wei Hsieh was beaten by Johanna Konta 6-0, 6-2; and No. 29 Mihaela Buzarnescu lost to Daria Gavrilova 6-2, 6-2.

In men’s opening-round matches, Steve Johnson beat fellow American Taylor Fritz 6-3, 6-3 and Stan Wawrinka edged Daniel Evans 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3. Also advancing were Feliciano Lopez and Hubert Hurkacz.

Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked player, won his first-round doubles match with Fabio Fognini. They beat Jeremy Chardy and Milos Raonic 7-6 (5), 6-1.

Matteo Berrettini breaks through on grass to win Stuttgart Open

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STUTTGART, Germany — Matteo Berrettini beat Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-6 (11) to win the Stuttgart Open and his third tour-level title on Sunday.

The Italian saved five set points in a second-set tiebreaker and clinched his first title on grass. His other titles came at Budapest in April, and Gstaad, Switzerland, last year.

The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime previously reached championship matches in Rio de Janeiro in February and the Lyon Open in May – both on clay.

Berrettini won all 50 of his service games during the week in Stuttgart. He did not face a break point against Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime progressed to the final in his first professional grass tournament without playing Saturday as compatriot Milos Raonic withdrew ahead of their semifinal due to back problems.

Playing on two surfaces, Vekic reaches Nottingham semis

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NOTTINGHAM, England — Former champion Donna Vekic finally got to play on grass at the Nottingham Open on Friday but had to overcome multiple rain delays and another switch indoors before reaching the semifinals.

The second-seeded Vekic defeated Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-4 in a match played on two surfaces as rain again played havoc with the schedule.

The opening two days were completely washed out before organizers decided to switch the first and second rounds indoors as rain fell for four consecutive days.

Vekic, who won the tournament in 2017, will play Germany’s Tatjana Maria in her third straight semifinal in Nottingham. Maria earlier defeated Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3, 7-6 (7) in the only match completed on grass so far at the tournament.

Also Friday, American Jennifer Brady defeated fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece 7-5, 6-3 to set up a semifinal against top-seeded Caroline Garcia.

Garcia rallied to beat Romanian qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse 4-6, 7-6, 6-1 in the last quarterfinal.