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Venus upsets No. 5 Bertens to advance in Cincinnati

Venus Williams upset defending champ and world No. 5 Kiki Bertens in three sets Tuesday to reach the third round of the Western & Southern Open near Cincinnati.

Williams won 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4) for her second Top 5 victory of the season.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion won four points on Bertens’ serve in the tiebreak, including on her third match point to capture a battle that lasted 2 hours, 17 minutes in Mason, Ohio.

“The tiebreaker, I just said to myself, act like you know how to play. Easier said than done,” Venus Williams said, according to Tennis.com. “You’ve got to go big or go home.”

Williams went up 3-0 in the deciding set and served for the match at 5-3, but the fifth-seeded Dutchwoman got back on serve with a break en route to the tiebreak. Bertens fired 11 aces and won 71 percent of her first-serve points, but Williams (one ace) fought back by having the advantage on second serves, winning 55 percent of her chances while Bertens won 42 percent.

Williams, 39, could next play a fellow former World No. 1 — Victoria Azarenka of Belarus — in the round of 32. Azarenka and Donna Vekic of Croatia will meet in a second-round match.

Madison Keys, the 16th seed, outlasted 2017 tournament champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6-7, (4), 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Four other seeded players fell Tuesday in the tune-up event for the U.S. Open.

Greece’s Maria Sakkari topped sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit eliminated 13th seed Angelique Kerber of Germany 7-6 (7), 6-2.

Su-Wei Hsieh of Chinese Taipei knocked out No. 15 Qiang Wang of China 6-3, 6-4. Azarenka advanced when 12th-seeded Belinda Bencic retired because of a left foot injury while trailing 6-4, 1-0.

“I know all about injuries and how frustrating it is, and especially right before the last major of the year,” said Azarenka, the 2013 champion in Cincinnati. “I hope (Bencic) recovers quick.”

Tenth-seeded Serena Williams withdrew ahead of her scheduled match against Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas due to an ongoing back ailment. The same injury forced her to retire from the final at Toronto on Sunday.

Diyas went on to defeat a lucky loser from qualifying, American Jessica Pegula, 7-5, 6-4.

Other winners Tuesday were Vekic, the United States’ Jennifer Brady and Sofia Kenin, China’s Saisai Zheng and Yafan Wang, and Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova.

–Field Level Media

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