Venus saves three match points, advances at Indian Wells

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Sunday March 12th, 2017

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) -- Venus Williams cast aside three match points and completed a big comeback after trailing by a set and a break, beating another former No. 1-ranked player, Jelena Jankovic, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open.

Williams moved into the third round at Indian Wells for the first time since 2001, the year she and her father were jeered after she withdrew from her semifinal against younger sister Serena because of an injury. Williams boycotted the hard-court tournament until returning last year.

Against Jankovic, the 36-year-old Williams - a seven-time Grand Slam champion and the Australian Open runner-up against her sister in January - had white tape wrapping her right elbow and left thigh. And the American, who is seeded 12th, lost the opening set quickly, dropping 16 of 18 points on her own serve, before falling behind 4-1 in the second.

Even after Williams began turning things around from there, she was a point from losing on three occasions, each while she served trailing 6-5 in the second set. On the first, at 15-40, she ended an 11-stroke exchange with a backhand volley winner. On the next, at 30-40, Jankovic pushed a return of serve long. And on the third, later in that game, Jankovic again missed a return, again sending it long, and put her hands on her hips.

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She would only win one game the rest of the way.

Earlier Saturday, Madison Keys played - and won - her first match of 2017 after time off because of a wrist operation, beating Mariana Duque-Marino 6-1, 7-5. Keys, a 22-year-old American ranked No. 9, had arthroscopic surgery on her left wrist shortly after the season-ending WTA Finals in October.

Other women joining Williams and Keys, who had first-round byes, in the third round at Indian Wells: No. 2-ranked Angelique Kerber, No. 4 Simona Halep, No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska, Caroline Wozniacki and Kristina Mladenovic.

Seeded women who lost Saturday included No. 16 Sam Stosur, No. 23 Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 27 Yulia Putintseva, No. 30 Zhang Shuai and No. 31 Ana Konjuh.

In men's action, No. 7 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost to Fabio Fognini 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4 in 2 1/2 hours, while 38-year-old, 6-foot-11 Ivo Karlovic, who was seeded 19th, bowed out to 21-year-old, 5-foot-7 Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-3. No. 30 Feliciano Lopez also exited.

No. 20 John Isner hit 23 aces, had zero double-faults and never faced a break point while edging Mikhail Kukushkin 7-6 (0), 7-6 (6), while other winners included No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, No. 8 Dominic Thiem, No. 10 Gael Monfils, No. 13 Tomas Berdych and No. 11 David Goffin.

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