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Venus advances in straight sets at Indian Wells

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Venus Williams is turning back her own clock at the BNP Paribas Open, moving into the fourth round with a 6-2, 7-5 victory over qualifier Christina McHale.

Williams is seeking her 50th career WTA Tour title in the desert, where she has never won the event. And at 38, she’s showing vintage form.

“I don’t really play that often, so when I do, I need to play well,” she said. “It’s extra motivation for me to play just a little bit better out there.”

Younger sister Serena, a two-time champion at Indian Wells, retired from her match on Sunday because of a viral illness.

Ranked 36th in the world, Williams endured three sets in her first two matches. She rallied past Andrea Petkovic in the opening round and followed up by outlasting No. 3 seed Petra Kvitova in a third-set tiebreaker.

Kvitova had made the finals in two of her first three tournaments this year.

Williams, who made the semifinals in the desert last year, was playing McHale for the first time. Williams rallied from early breaks down in both sets to win.

“I never played her, so it’s also you’re out there learning,” Williams said.

Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic, the world’s top-ranked players, had night matches Monday with rain in the forecast.

Karolina Pliskova eased past qualifier Ysaline Bonaventure 6-3, 6-2. No. 8 Angelique Kerber outlasted qualifier Natalia Vikhlyantseva 3-6, 6-1, 6-3 and No. 9 Aryna Sabalenka defeated 24th-seeded Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 7-5.

Two seeded women lost: No. 11 Anastasija Sevastova, who retired trailing 5-0 in the first set against No. 21 Anett Kontaveit, and No. 15 Julia Goerges, who lost to Mona Barthel 7-5, 1-6, 6-4.

On the men’s side, No. 3 Alexander Zverev lost to German countryman Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-1.

Playing just his third tournament of the year, Zverev said he’s been sick for a week.

“That hasn’t changed, unfortunately,” he said.

Dominic Thiem, seeded seventh, defeated No. 27 Gilles Simon 6-3, 6-1. No. 13 Milos Raonic got a challenge from American qualifier Marcos Giron before winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Miomir Kecmanovic, a lucky loser from Serbia, got past No. 30 Laslo Djere 6-2, 7-6 (3).

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.