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Andy Murray keeps his cool on a hot day

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Andy Murray keeps his cool on a hot day

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) On a hot day at the Australian Open, it was perhaps fitting for Andy Murray to be talking about short shorts.

And the weather, of course.

After soaking in an ice bath to cool down, Murray said he was thankful that his match went quickly on Thursday when temperatures reached 106 degrees - and the court felt like a sauna.

``There were very few long rallies. So it worked out well for me because it was really, really tough conditions,'' said Murray, who won in straight sets over Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-2, 6-2, 6-4.

Murray sat between changeovers sipping bottled water and with an ``ice towel'' slung over his neck - a towel packed and bound with chunks of ice.

Union Jacks and Scottish flags flew in the stands, where fans sang a song called ``Andy Style'' to the tune of ``Gangnam Style.''

After the win, a confident Murray tossed his racket to the ground and thanked fans by hurling his sweaty wristbands and a damp towel into the stands.

The 25-year-old Scot has been dubbed ``A New Andy'' at this year's Australian Open.

Unburdened by the pressure that followed him on previous trips to Australia, he arrives this year as the reigning major champion.

Now that he has ended the 76-year drought for British men at the majors, he doesn't have to field the same nagging questions about whether he has the talent to win a Grand Slam.

Which is why the world's No. 3-ranked player was talking about tight shirts and short shorts in his post-match news conference.

The subject of his shirt had come up in the first round when he explained he hasn't bulked up his upper body, but it may have appeared that way because he's wearing a tighter shirt this year.

Elaborating Thursday, he said the change of style was decided on by his sponsor, Adidas, but he didn't mind the snug new fit and preferred it to tops with low, baggy sleeves that can impede the elbow during swings.

``The less material there is on the shirt I think probably the better. There's less to get in the way,'' he said, with his typical deadpan delivery. ``So long as they're tailored somewhat, I think there's no real problem.''

Murray was then asked his personal view on certain men's players who seemed to be wearing shorter shorts this year in a nod to the 1970s.

``I actually wore a pair at Wimbledon,'' he said. ``Not quite like what Ivan (Lendl) and those guys used to wear on the court. I can't see a return to them, to be honest.''

Thinking about it made him smile: ``Yeah, they were a bit too short. Didn't leave too much to the imagination.''

Lendl, the eight-time Grand Slam champion, is Murray's coach and is the man he largely credits with his winning streak and an added aggressiveness that carried him through a breakthrough year in 2012.

On Thursday, Lendl sat in the stands watching Murray, leaning on a towel draped over the hot railing.

Since teaming up with Lendl, Murray was runner-up at Wimbledon, a gold medalist at the London 2012 Olympics and then won his first Grand Slam at the U.S. Open.

He has come tantalizingly close in Australia, where he was a finalist in 2010 and 2011 and a semifinalist in 2012.

Standing in the way of a potential second Grand Slam title for Murray is a likely semifinal against No. 2-ranked Roger Federer and No. 1 Novak Djokovic, whom he could face in the final.

Murray knows his next opponent well - qualifier Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania. The two have trained together ahead of past Australian Opens and practiced together earlier this month at the Brisbane International, where Murray defended his title just before heading to Melbourne.

The 22-year-old Berankis is playing his first Grand Slam in Melbourne and ranked 110th.

``He hits the ball pretty big from the back of the court. He plays aggressive. He's a very flat hitter of the ball,'' Murray said of his opponent. ``It's nice to see him do well because we spend quite a bit of time practicing together.''

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2018 Olympic Hockey Results: Czech Republic eliminate U.S. men in shootout winner

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USA Today Sports

2018 Olympic Hockey Results: Czech Republic eliminate U.S. men in shootout winner

GANGNEUNG, South Korea -- Pavel Francouz stopped all five shooters and Petr Kouka scored the shootout winner as the Czech Republic eliminated the United States with a 3-2 victory in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

Jan Kovar and Tomas Kundratek scored in regulation for the Czech Republic, which was fresher after winning its group and getting a bye into the quarterfinals. The U.S. looked fatigued after facing Slovakia in the qualification round and was outshot 29-20.

Ryan Donato and Jim Slater scored for the U.S, which again was led by its youngest players, including speedster Troy Terry. U.S. goaltender Ryan Zapolski allowed three goals on 29 shots and one in the shotoout, while Francouz stopped 18 in regulation and overtime.

Koukal was the only player to score in overtime. Chris Bourque, Ryan Donato, Marc Arcobello, Terry and Bobby Butler couldn't beat Francouz.

RELATED: OVECHKIN HAS LITTLE DESIRE TO WATCH 2018 WINTER OLYMPICS

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Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

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Associated Press

Need to Know: The Redskins appear to be set at center

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 21, 21 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The Redskins appear to be set at center

Originally published 12/19/17

Chase Roullier might have been the Redskins’ fourth choice to play at center this year. But he could be snapping the ball for Washington for a long time.

Kory Lichtensteiger, the starter for the previous three years when healthy, retired. Veteran backup John Sullivan departed as a free agent. Spencer Long started six games this season before knee and quad problems pushed him to the sideline, elevating the rookie Roullier into the starting lineup.

The sixth-round pick started three games before breaking his right hand at some point during the game against the Saints. That’s his snapping hand and him finishing that game was an underrated act of courage this year. But he was out for three games before returning against the Cardinals on Sunday. Jay Gruden was pleased with his play. 

“Chase did good. He did good,” said Gruden. “It was good to see him back in there. His snaps were outstanding and handled the calls and play well.”

That was good but standard praise. What was interesting was what he said next.  

“I like Chase’s progress right now,” he said. “I think he is going to be a very good center for a long time here. It was a great pickup for us in the draft.”

It appears that you can at least pencil in Roullier as the 2018 starter at center, if not put him in with a Sharpie.

Where would this leave Long, who is slated to be a free agent in March? The Redskins could let him walk and go with the younger and cheaper Roullier. They also could sign him to be their starting left guard. That job has belonged to Shawn Lauvao. But Lauvao also is a pending free agent and he is 30 and he has missed large chunks of two of the last three seasons with injuries. When he missed the last 13 games of the 2015 season, Long went in at left guard and played well.

If that happens, that would give the Redskins a starting offensive line consisting entirely of players drafted by the team and with only Trent Williams over the age of 27 in Week 1 of 2018.

Regardless of what happens at left guard, it looks like Roullier will be the man in the middle for 2018 and beyond.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 8
—NFL Draft (4/26) 64
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 200