#1 n the semifinals against Oklahoma City after con von carrie567 29.04.2019 04:27

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Venus Williams made good on the wild card she received into the Dubai Championships by posting a 6-3, 6-2 first-round win over Elena Vesnina of Russia on Monday. The 48th-ranked Williams made her first appearance in Dubai since she won her second straight title here in 2010. Shed missed the last three years either because of injury or Sjogrens Syndrome. "I definitely dont take for granted any win anymore," Williams said. "Not that I used to because I earned it. "But now its even more special." She fired 10 aces and broke the 33rd-ranked Vesnina four times. Vesnina had won their previous two matchups. "My serve keeps improving pretty much every tournament," Williams said. "That always helps me." In the first set, Williams broke Vesnina at love in the sixth game. Williams raced to 3-0 in the second set, but surrendered her serve in the fourth game when she sailed a forehand long on the one break point she faced all night. Williams sister, Serena, the top seed and also a wild card recipient, will play Ekaterina Makarova of Russia on Tuesday. It will be the first match for Serena since losing to Ana Ivanovic in the Australian Open fourth round last month. Serenas been nursing a back injury until this week. Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic ousted Sloane Stephens 6-3, 7-5, handing the 18th-ranked American back-to-back first-round losses at Doha and Dubai. Safarova broke Stephens three times in the first set, but double-faulted twice from 30-30 in the ninth game of the second to give Stephens a 5-4 lead. Stephens, however, was unable to hold on to it. "I didnt really get a great rhythm and she was playing good tennis in the end," Stephens said. The main draw is so strong in Dubai that Australian Open semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard of Canada was relegated to the qualifying draw. Bouchard lost her third qualifying match to Annika Beck of Germany 6-1, 6-4 on Monday. 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Olympic hockey management team have been making what he called "ghost rosters" since August.MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Kevin Durant insists he and Russell Westbrook arent turning their first-round series into a two-man show, even if the NBA scoring champ says they may be shooting too much. Durant and his Oklahoma City teammates agree those shots will fall. Saturday night in Game 4 would be a good time to start, or the Thunder could find themselves on the brink of playoff elimination in the opening round for the first time since 2010. "I just didnt make shots," Durant said Friday after practice. "Thats the name of the game. But I liked the way I cut, I liked the way I was aggressive. But I have to do a better job of maybe passing the ball a little bit more and also making shots. Ive got to stay confident in myself." Durant and Westbrook each scored 30 points in Thursday nights 98-95 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, combining to go 19 of 53 or a majority of the 87 shots the Thunder took. Worse, they were a chilling 4 of 21 beyond the arc with Durant missing all eight of his attempts. Thunder centre Kendrick Perkins said that wont happen again. "KD is obviously the league MVP and we expect him to be the MVP down the stretch," Perkins said. Memphis has been making Durant and Westbrook work hard for shots by crowding the paint while holding the Thunder below 40 per cent shooting in back-to-back games. Now the Grizzlies have the same 2-1 lead they had a year ago in the semifinals against Oklahoma City after consecutive overtime wins. Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said they want to limit the easy shots and hope Durant and Westbrook miss some. "Theyre going to get them up," Joerger said. Durant and Westbrook werent alone. Oklahoma City went 5 of 28 for a chilling 17.9 peer cent.dddddddddddd That was just the seventh time in the playoffs the Thunder have shot 20 per cent or less from 3 since moving to Oklahoma City, and three came against the Grizzlies. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said the Grizzlies have been forcing them to take some of the 3s by crowding three and four players around the paint. Oklahoma City can loosen up Memphis by hitting some of those "The ones were trying to eliminate and hopefully we do that next game, are the ones that are off the dribble with the no passes. Those are the tough ones. Those are the ones that we dont want. The ones we like, and were going to have to be able to step up and make, are the ones when theyre packing the paint." Still, the Thunder, who posted the NBAs second-best record, remain confident. "Itd be different if we got blown out or we feel like we didnt have a chance to win," Westbrook said. "Were in a good place." So are the Grizzlies. They now have won four of the last six playoff games against Oklahoma City, including four straight on their home court. The Thunders lone win here in the post-season needed three overtimes in Game 4 of their 2011 semifinal. Not even going to overtime after blowing fourth-quarter leads has bothered Memphis, which has been pushing for the playoffs since January once centre Marc Gasol returned from a sprained left knee. The Grizzlies went 10-4 in games decided by three points or less as one of only four teams with double-digit wins in one-possession games. Conley called Saturday night the next most important game of the season. "We know theyre not going to go away," Conley said. "Theyre going to fight and do whatever they can to win the series." 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