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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.

Djokovic beats Delbonis in third round at Miami Open

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Novak Djokovic squandered a second-set lead but regrouped to beat Federico Delbonis 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 Sunday in the third round of the Miami Open.

Djokovic appeared on his way to an easy victory when he led 3-1 in the second set, but he dropped serve twice in a row. He won a succession of long rallies in the final set and swept the last five games.

The top-ranked Djokovic is trying for his seventh title in the tournament, which moved this year to the Miami Dolphins’ stadium complex.

Defending champion John Isner was broken in the first game but he held the rest of the way and hit 16 aces to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5, 7-6 (6).

Isner, now 33, won the biggest title of his career in the tournament a year ago. Seeded No. 7, he’ll next face No. 19 Kyle Edmund, who beat No. 12 Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-4.

In women’s play, Venus Williams reached the fourth round of the tournament for the 16th time with a 6-3, 6-1 win over No. 14 Daria Kasatkina, who never held serve.

Williams won the title in 1998, 1999 and 2001. She’s unseeded at Miami for the first time since 2012, but improved to 11-3 this year.

Williams next faces No. 2 Simona Halep, who outlasted Polona Hercog 5-7, 7-6 (1), 6-2.

“I was running like crazy for three hours,” Halep said. “If I keep doing this, I think I have a chance to be back No. 1.”

A loss Saturday by top-ranked Naomi Osaka opened the door for Halep to reclaim the top ranking if she reaches the final.

No. 25 Danielle Collins lost to Wang Yafan 7-5, 6-1.

John Isner advances to fourth round at Miami Open

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — John Isner was broken in the first game but held thereafter and hit 16 aces to beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-5, 7-6 (6) Sunday in the third round of the Miami Open.

Isner, now 33, won the biggest title of his career in the tournament a year ago. He is seeded seventh this year.

In women’s play, No. 25 Danielle Collins lost to Wang Yafan 7-5, 6-1.

Defending women’s champion Sloane Stephens was scheduled to play later Sunday, as was No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic on the men’s side.