Venus, Osaka through to second round at China Open

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BEIJING — Venus Williams and Naomi Osaka both advanced to the second round of the China Open on Sunday.

The No. 4-seeded Osaka won 76 percent of first serves and hit 26 winners in her 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over unseeded American Jessica Pegula.

“I just felt like this match, I was kind of living in the moment every point. I wasn’t really thinking too much in the future, too much in the past,” said Osaka.

The reigning Australian Open champion won the fourth title of her career in Osaka last week. She will next play qualifier Andrea Petkovic of Germany, who beat Jil Teichmann 7-6 (4), 6-3 to advance.

Williams defeated Barbora Strycova 6-3, 4-6, 7-5 in two hours and thirty-three minutes to reach the round of 32.

The seven-time major winner converted three of four break points and rallied back from 3-5 down in the third set for the win.

“My strategy is always basically to dominate. Basically, whoever does that usually wins,” William said.

It was a promising start for Williams, who had managed just four wins in her previous six China Open appearances. Williams will face Belinda Bencic of Switzerland next.

Wimbledon champion Simona Halep also advanced, beating Rebecca Peterson of Sweden 6-1, 6-1 in just an hour and 11 minutes.

Halep was forced to withdraw from Wuhan last week due to a back injury, the same issue that sidelined her at the end of 2018.

“I was a little bit down before this tournament because it’s happening again, like last year,” said Halep. “I’m really happy I could win. The way I played makes me happier.”

No. 3-seeded Elina Svitolina came back from a set down to beat Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova 6-7 (4), 6-1, 6-2, while American Sloane Stephens beat Magda Linette 7-5, 6-3.

Shapovalov beats Johnson in straight sets at Japan Open

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TOKYO — Denis Shapovalov put up a near-perfect serving performance to beat Steve Johnson 6-3, 7-6 (3) at the Japan Open.

The seventh-seeded Canadian conceded only one point on his first serve and had 11 aces. Shapovalov, who lost in the semifinals four years ago, will next take on Japanese qualifier Rio Noguchi for a place in the quarterfinals.

“(This was) definitely one of my best serving matches,” Shapovalov said. “I kind of felt like I needed to against Steve . I’m very happy with my serving performance today and hopefully I can keep it up throughout the week.”

Also, Miomir Kecmanovic came back to beat Yoshihito Nishioka 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-2, and Kwon Soon-woo defeated Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-2.

Alcaraz loses to Goffin in 1st match as No. 1

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.

The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.

“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”

Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.

“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”

Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.