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Federer, SWilliams advance at hot Australian Open

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Federer, SWilliams advance at hot Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) With the sun setting at the end of a hot day at the Australian Open, Roger Federer ensured he made the most of a favorable evening draw.

Wearing bright pink shoelaces, Federer advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Russian Nikolay Davydenko on Thursday.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion was a winner of sorts before he even stepped out at Rod Laver Arena, having received the luck of the draw - a 7 p.m. start time after the worst of the 106-degree heat had subsided.

``I'm very happy to have played so well against him,'' Federer said of his 18th win over Davydenko in their 20 matches.

Other championship contenders in the men's and women's draws, including Andy Murray, Serena Williams and defending champion Victoria Azarenka, had to withstand the high temperatures that aren't unusual for this time of year in Melbourne.

A dancing Azarenka and an ankle-wrapped Williams had easy straight-set victories. U.S. Open champion Murray also won routinely, beating Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 on Hisense Arena, the second show court at Melbourne Park.

``You need to be the one that's trying to dictate the points in these conditions,'' said Murray, who practices in Florida. ``Miami is the perfect preparation. It's hot and humid there, although it certainly doesn't get up to (99 degrees). It was a good match to get done in straight sets. ``

Williams went into Thursday's match with an injured right ankle from Tuesday's match. She didn't seem troubled by the ankle, but did finish with a swollen lip after hitting herself with her racket.

``It's OK,'' she said. ``It's a war wound. I think it happens to everyone, but I have never busted it wide open like that. I was like, `Oh, no. I can't have a tooth fall out.' That would be horrible.''

Williams lifted her tempo on the biggest points, including when she finally won an 18-minute game to open the second set en route to a 6-2, 6-0 win over Garbine Muguruza.

``Usually I feel injuries after the match but, so far, so good. I felt pretty much better than I ever dreamed of expecting to feel,'' Williams said of her ankle.

She later combined with sister Venus to win in the first round of doubles, showing no signs of trouble with the ankle.

Despite the high temperatures, tournament officials left the retractable roofs on both main arenas open because a combination of factors including humidity and court temperature didn't warrant making the venues a temporary indoor haven from the heat.

Ice vests and towels helped players keep their cool, and a women's tour rule allowing a 10-minute break between sets was invoked late in the day, tournament director Craig Tiley said.

``It's always the referee's discretion, but the lack of humidity helped us today,'' Tiley said. Australia sweltered through a week of record high average temperatures this month, but the first three days of the Open were relatively mild.

The top-ranked Azarenka pranced into Rod Laver Arena for the first match of the day, and said she's starting to find some rhythm after beating Eleni Daniilidou 6-1, 6-0 in 55 minutes.

``I felt like I'm back into the competitive mode,'' Azarenka said.

The No. 94-ranked Daniilidou only won 10 points in the first set and was shut out in the second despite having triple break point in the fourth game.

Azarenka had her friend and musician RedFoo in the stands watching and signing autographs, and said she went onto the court listening to a ``great mix of disco music and a little bit of new music.''

The heat didn't seem to bother 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm, who advanced 6-2, 7-5 over Shahar Peer of Israel. She's the oldest woman to win a singles match at the Australian Open.

In the final match of day, which carried into Friday morning, Britain's Laura Robson outlasted 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-3, 11-9 in a 3-hour match.

The Melbourne-born Robson, who won a mixed doubles silver medal at the London Olympics last year with Murray, trailed 3-0 in the final set before coming back to win a match featuring 14 service breaks - seven by each player. Robson served for the match twice, failing to clinch it at 6-5 before getting another chance eight games later.

Other women advancing included former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, No. 14 Maria Kirilenko, No. 16 Roberta Vinci, No. 20 Yanina Wickmayer and Elena Vesnina, who beat No. 21-seeded Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 6-4, 6-2.

Former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova beat 26th-seeded Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan 6-2, 6-1.

Murray, who ended a 76-year drought by British men in Grand Slam tournaments with his win at Flushing Meadows last year, didn't allow Sousa a single break-point chance.

Among the other men advancing were sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, who beat Benjamin Becker 6-2, 6-4, 6-2, and 2008 Australian finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who pretended to do pushups to disguise a fall during his 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-3 win over Japan's Go Soeda.

Australia's Bernard Tomic went through to the third round along with No. 9 Richard Gasquet, No. 13 Milos Raonic of Canada, No. 17 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, No. 21 Andreas Seppi of Italy and Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis, who beat No. 25 Florian Mayer 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.

Tomic beat Novak Djokovic at the Hopman Cup and won last week's Sydney International, his first ATP tournament victory. He has won 10 matches in a row and has held 76 consecutive service games through that stretch.

He'll face Federer in the third round on Sunday, a rematch of their fourth-round match last year.

``We'll know each other a bit better this time around,'' said Federer, who had two lopsided wins over Tomic in 2012.

Gael Monfils improbably advanced to the third round with a five-set win over Taiwan's Lu Yen-hsun despite the Frenchman having 23 double-faults, including three on match point. Fortunately for Monfils, he also had 29 aces in the 7-6 (5), 4-6, 0-6, 6-1, 8-6 win.

Djokovic, attempting to win his third Australian Open in a row, plays his third-round match on Friday against Radek Stepanek, while the featured women's match will be second-seeded Maria Sharapova's eighth career meeting with Venus Williams.

Sharapova holds a 4-3 edge, although Venus has won both times they've met in Grand Slams - at Wimbledon.

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Bradley Beal's phantom foul and the Wizards' most important rally of the season

Bradley Beal's phantom foul and the Wizards' most important rally of the season

After calling an inconsistent game throughout the night, the referees made a decision with five minutes to go in Game 4 that nearly altered the entire series between the Wizards and Raptors.

DeMar DeRozan was chasing a rebound on the baseline and ran into Bradley Beal. Beal, who had a team-high 31 points, was levied a sixth and final foul with the score tied. 

Beal had unloaded for 20 points in 12 minutes in the second half, but now the Wizards would have to close it out without their All-Star shooting guard. Somehow, they were able to seal the win and tie the series.

Beal heard the whistle as he laid on the ground. He immediately hopped up and unleashed a tantrum that nobody could blame him for.

He jumped up and down, screaming at the referees, who had just called by all accounts a questionable foul and in a key moment of a playoff game.

Both Beal and head coach Scott Brooks were incensed and with good reason.

“I was beyond emotional, beyond mad, frustrated," Beal said. "I honestly thought they were going to kick me out of the game I was so mad, but I was happy they didn’t do that."

Beal is probably lucky the referees didn't take offense to his reaction because it continued when he was on the bench. He walked past his teammates and leaned over with his hands on his knees, still furious. Then he returned to the sideline to yell at the refs. Center Ian Mahinmi helped convince him to step back and cool off.

Beal has made a major difference in this series. He averaged 14.0 points in the first two games, both losses. He has averaged 29.5 points in Games 3 and 4, two Wizards wins.

Getting him out of the game was a major break for the Raptors, but they couldn't take advantage. The Wizards closed the final five minutes on a 14-6 tear. John Wall stepped up to lead the charge with eight of those points.

The Wizards still had one star on the court and he played like one.

“Just go in attack mode," Wall said. "When Brad went out, I knew I had to do whatever it took... I just wanted to do whatever, so that we could advance to Game 5, tied 2-2.”

Once Beal composed himself, his confidence grew in his teammates. He and Wall feel comfortable playing without each other because they have done so often throughout their careers.

This year, Wall missed 41 games due to a left knee injury. Two years ago, Beal missed 27 games. Early on in his career, he had trouble staying healthy. Now he is an iron man who played in all 82 games during the 2017-18 regular season.

Beal has grown accustomed to being on the floor a lot, but he realized he can still affect the game from the sidelines.

"I just gathered my emotions, gathered my thoughts and told my team we were going to win, regardless. I knew if we still had John [Wall] in the game I loved our chances," Beal said. "Face the adversity that I had to overcome, just gather myself and be a leader, being vocal and keeping everyone encouraged in the game.”

Wall and others did the heavy lifting in the end. The Wizards used Kelly Oubre, Jr. as the shooting guard with Beal out and he made key plays down the stretch, including a steal on Kyle Lowry in the closing seconds.

The Wizards were thrown a significant curveball and they overcame it to put themselves in good position now having won two straight.

“You have to have resolve to win in this league," Brooks said. "You win playoff games and you win playoff series with having that. We have that, and we have to continue to have that because we have to win two more games and one of them has to be on the road."

When it comes to the officiating, the Wizards deserve credit for their resilience and restraint early in Game 4. The Raptors had 16 free throws in the first quarter compared to the Wizards' four. Washington perservered and ended up with more free throws (31) than the Raptors (30) did for the game.

In Game 1, the Wizards appeared to be affected by a lack of foul calls. That came was called loosely by the referees, while this one was officiated tightly. Though Beal went off, the Wizards for the most part stayed the course and were rewarded for it.

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The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

The Wizards supplied all the highlights and fireworks; 5 must-see moments from Game 4

WASHINGTON -- As the home team in a dire situation you have to take advantage, and that is exactly what the Washington Wizards did in their 106-98 win over the Toronto Raptors.

Highlight reel play after highlight reel play, the Wizards ignited the crowd with some of their best plays from the entire season to make it 2-2 in the series. Here are just a few of them:

1. John Wall collects posters in the first half

The first one was perhaps the best. Everything was going wrong for the Wizards, poor turnovers, bad shots, a three from Toronto. Then John Wall had enough. Not only did he fly past his defender Kyle Lowry, but he went up and slammed one home past the 7-foot Jonas Valanciunas. Up until that point, the Wizards were shooting 1-for-7.

Rinse and repeat, except this time Jakob Poeltl was Wall’s victim.

2. Wall to Beal alley-oop in transition

With the Wizards’ offense faltering, the Raptors remained on the verge of blowing the game open throughout the second quarter. But with a steal from Otto Porter Jr., Wall hung up the ball for Bradley Beal to slam home. The alley-oop kept the Wizards within single digits in the second with an uninspiring offensive effort.

3. Otto Porter breaks out of the half

A subdued offensive start to the game was due in part to the production from Porter. In the first half he went 0-for-4 with one point in nearly 17 minutes of action.

Throw that away in the second half. He broke out of halftime with back-to-back threes and 10 of the Wizards’ 26 in a monster 26-14 run to take the lead back in the third.

He finished the quarter with 10 points, an assist, and two blocks.

4. The Polish Hammer throwing it home

Are you convinced yet that Marcin Gortat’s new haircut is doing him some good? Gortat squeezed through two Raptors’ defenders, threw it down, gave a Goliath-type roar to the crowd before officially bringing the hammer down. 

5. Beal being called for his sixth foul of the game

Agree with the call or not, there is no denying that Beal’s removal from the game lit a fire underneath the Wizards. From that point Washington went on a 14-6 scoring run to end the game, closing out for the win.

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