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Citi Open preview: ATP and WTA tours invading D.C.

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Citi Open preview: ATP and WTA tours invading D.C.

Starting Monday professional tennis is backin Washington and with a double your fun kind of vibe, not to mention a new name. Traditionally thistournament is all about the mens (ATP)tour, but the first year under the Citi Open label the Rock Creek hard courts will also host the womens (WTA) version. As for who is specifically in the field, your familiarity with the names may vary. Mardy Fish headlines the ATP side of the aisle, but the second-highest ranked American in the world also sports one of the few recognizablenames in the event, previously known as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. With the stars of the tennis world competing for gold, silver and bronze over in London, familiar names like Andy Roddick and John Isner, not to mention notable international stars are not in D.C.Same goes for the WTA field, which includes a trio of young seeded American women led by Sloane Stephens, plus former it-girl Melanie Oudin, working her way back up the charts. After playing in College Park last year during a different week, organizers folded that event into one that has been played in the D.C. area since 1969.Fish, one of two top 20 players competing this week in either draw, is the obvious men's favorite. However, despite the lack of star power in the field, do not assume winning this week will be yes, I am going there - shooting fish in a barrel easy for the thirteenth ranked player in the world. No. 17 Alexandr Dolgopolov, South Africa's Kevin Anderson and former top-10 player Tommy Haas round out the top four seeds. All have impressive wins on tour this season and Anderson and Haas have accomplished what Fish has not: win a title in 2012.Fish is also recovering from an ankle injury suffered 10 days ago, which forced him to withdraw in Atlanta. He also has not had much recent success in Washington, but a win this week could springboard the 30-year-old toward a strong close to the season and a successful U.S. Open. Taking home the winners portion of the 1.049 million purse would not be too shabby either (playing in significantly lesserevent compared to the men in terms of their respective tours,the women'stotal purse is220,000).Here is what else you need to know about the 2012 Citi Open:Mens Draw- Finals on August 5Top seed: A six-time tour winner, Fish has twice reached the quarterfinals in Washington, most recently in 2006, but has not won more than a single match in a given year since. He pulled out last year as the No. 2 seed with a heel injury. Others to watch: The Ukrainian Dolgopolov, the No.2 seed, reached the finals in Brisbane earlier this year34-year-old and former top 10 player Hass is the last man to have defeated Roger Federer this year, taking down the eventual Wimbledon champ in the finals at HalleThe 6-foot-8 Anderson defeated Roddick and Isner on his way to way winning a hard courts title in Delray Beach back in FebruaryAmerican Sam Querry is seeded eighth.Blast from the past: Longtime American stalwart and 2002 Washington champion James Blake returns to D.C. for the ninth time. Perhaps being on familiar turf or rather, hard courts will turn around what has been a losing season.Womens Draw- Finals on August 4Top seed: Ranked 28th in the world, 21-year-old Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is aiming for her fourth career title and first in 2012. Though she prefers clay, Pavlyuchenkova showed her court diversity with a run to the quarters on the grass at Eastbourne this summer.Others to watch: No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens tops the three Americans seeded in Washington, including Vania King (4) and Coco Vandeweghe. Stephens, ranked 52 in the world and a rising 19-year African-American talent from Florida, reached the round of 16 at the French Open and round of 32 at Wimbledon. South African Chanelle Scheppers is the No. 2 seed.Blast from the past: Melanie Oudin, remember her? The precocious 17-year-old American stormed the tennis gates in 2009 including a run to the quarters at the U.S. Open and reached a ranking of 31 in 2010. Since there have been more downs then ups, but while currently outside the top 100, Oudin has recently begin move back in the right direction.

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The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

When their turn comes up in this draft, the Redskins are going to pick the best available player on the board. Unless they’re not. 

That is the mixed message delivered on Tuesday by Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president for player personnel during his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday. 

Williams was asked what nearly every NFL personnel executive has been asked during this round of draft press conferences: Will the Redskins take the best player on the board or would they draft for need?

And Williams gave an answer similar to the ones that all of the other personnel guys gave. 

“You hear this cliché all the time, it’s always going to be the best player available, because at the same time if you’re looking for a need, the player you’re looking for a need might not be graded as high as the guy that’s on that board,” he said. 

That makes some fans crazy as they believe that you must fill needs in the draft. But reaching to fill needs is a good way to have a mediocre, disjointed draft. 

But there are times when the best available player is not the player the Redskins will pick. The topic of injuries came up and Williams talked about the situation at offensive tackle. Morgan Moses and Trent Williams currently are rehabbing from injuries and they won’t take the field during OTAs and minicamp. 

Doug Williams said that both players should be ready for training camp. He didn’t mention it but Trent Williams and Moses are signed for the next three and five years, respectively. That means that there is no need for a tackle in at least the first two rounds, and Williams agrees. 

“We can’t go into the draft drafting tackles, you know,” he said. 

So if, say, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame has the highest grade on the Redskins’ board when pick 13 comes up, they will not be taking the player with the best grade. They will “reach”, perhaps only slightly, to take a player at another position. 

The Redskins have a similar situation at quarterback. They are committed to Alex Smith for at least three seasons and it would be foolish to spend a high pick on a quarterback. Williams said that the Redskins are not in the quarterback business this year. If there is a top QB still on the board at pick 13, it’s likely that Williams and Bruce Allen would be looking for phone calls from teams that want to trade up and get their signal caller. 

The true test of how the team chooses needs vs. best available could well come this year. Let’s say that Da’Ron Payne, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Tremaine Edmunds are all on the board when the Redskins’ pick comes up. While each team has its own grades, you probably won’t find many that don’t have Fitzpatrick and Edmunds a clear cut above Payne. The Redskins have needs on the defensive line, not so much at inside linebacker or in the secondary. Picking Payne at that point could be interpreted as reaching to fill a need while leaving more talented and more versatile players on the board. Going best available would almost surely mean choosing between Fitzpatrick and Edmunds. 

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

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 5: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

GAME 5: WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT TORONTO RAPTORS

Series: Series tied 2-2
Where: Air Canada Centre
Tip-off: 7:02 p.m. (earlier tipoff than usual)
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Pivotal game

The Wizards have done their part in winning both games at home to even up this series at 2-2. Now comes Game 5, which could very well determine who takes this series.

Winners of Game 5 in a seven-game series tied at 2-2 hold a 164-34 (.828) record all-time. That means teams that lose Game 5 come back to win the final two games and the series only 17.2 percent of the time.

The Wizards need to get this one and they know all too well why. Last year they were in this same position in their second round series against the Boston Celtics. They went down 0-2, won the next two games but then lost Game 5 and ultimately the series in seven games.

Road warriors

The Wizards will also have to do something they have yet to do in a while in Game 5 and that is win on the road. Though they have won eight straight home postseason games, they have lost their last six on the road. It goes back to that Celtics series when Washington lost all four games in Boston. The last time they won on the road in the playoffs was Game 6 last year against the Hawks.

The Raptors are particularly tough in Toronto. They were 34-7 this season at home, tied with the Houston Rockets for the best record in the NBA. 

The recent historical odds are also in Toronto's favor. Since 2003, the home team has won each of the first four games in a seven-game series 35 times. In those series, the home team has held a Game 5 record of 22-13 and a series record of 26-9. If the Raptors get Game 5, history will be on their side to go on to win the series.

Can Otto get going?

Games 3 and 4 in Washington saw All-Star Bradley Beal break out to score 28 and 31 points. Will we see the same from Otto Porter before this series is over?

Game 4 seemed to suggest that is possible. After scoring only one point in the first half, Porter erupted for 10 points in the third quarter alone. Though he only scored 12 points in the game overall, it was the most aggressive we have seen him all series.

Porter is averaging just 10.3 points per game through four playoff games. He is shooting 50 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from three, and as long as the Wizards are winning he won't complain, but Porter can do much more than that on offense. If he starts scoring more, the Wizards will be tough to stop.

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MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

WALL HAS REACHED PEAK FORM AMAZINGLY QUICK

WALL IS BOYCOTTING DRAKE'S MUSIC DURING SERIES

OUBRE IS HELPING THE WIZARDS WIN IN MANY WAYS

For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast: