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Murray beats Dimitrov to defend Brisbane title

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Murray beats Dimitrov to defend Brisbane title

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) Andy Murray kicked off 2013 with a successful defense of his Brisbane International title, holding off the up-and-coming Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (0), 6-4 and then dedicating Sunday's victory to an absent friend.

``Thank you very much,'' Murray said, his voice starting to break at the end of the trophy presentation. ``He's back home watching ... you're going to get through.''

He didn't immediately reveal the name of his friend, but signed ``For You Perched'' on a small plaque.

Murray began his breakthrough season in 2012 by winning in Brisbane and followed that up later with career-changing titles at the London Olympics and U.S. Open.

He heads into the Australian Open, starting Jan. 14, as the reigning major champion and without the enormous pressure that has followed him on every previous trip to Australia to end what had been a drought dating back to 1936 for British men at majors.

The 21-year-old Dimitrov raced to a 4-1 lead in his first ATP World Tour final, stunning Murray with some impressive single-handed backhands, but lost his nerve and was broken when serving for the set at 5-3. After getting back on serve, No. 3-ranked Murray saved a set-point with an ace and forced a tiebreaker, which he dominated.

In the second, Murray drilled a backhand into the net to give up a service break and a 4-3 lead to Dimitrov, and chastised himself as he sat in his chair at the changeover, yelling: ``legs, legs, legs, legs, legs.''

He raised his game immediately to break back in a three-game roll, getting quick points from a backhand passing shot and a stunning return to set up a break point and a backhand winner down the line to level.

Murray held at love for a 5-4 lead in a service game that lasted 56 seconds and then broke Dimitrov again to finish it off in 1 1/2 hours.

``I was up a break and I was actually not playing bad tennis at all I thought,'' the No. 48-ranked Dimitrov said. ``He's one of the best returners in the game by far. He picked up couple of my serves on big points, so that gave him extra confidence. Then he stepped up with his serve.

``He's a top guy, so he has his rhythm, his routine on court. When he has to play good, he plays good. So I didn't feel that I was far from winning the set or even the match, but still that was a little margin that he got covered.''

Dimitrov beat No. 2-seeded Milos Raonic, the big-serving Canadian, No. 7 Jurgen Melzer and 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis en route to his first career final.

And Murray thinks Dimitrov, who has been compared with 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer as a younger player, could be on the verge of bigger things.

``It's his first final. Everyone will agree he played some extremely exciting tennis, it was a very tough match,'' Murray said. ``He's just changed coaches, started with a new team, so congratulations to them - I'm sure they're going to do great things together.''

Murray made a shaky start to the tournament, dropping a set in his first match against No. 199-ranked Australian qualifier John Millman, but the Scot gradually picked up momentum in wins over Denis Istomin and - after falling behind a break in the first set - was leading fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori 6-4, 2-0 when the Japanese player withdrew from their semifinal with an injured left knee.

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING

The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

RELATED: DURANT MAKES HUGE DONATION TO PG COUNTY SCHOOLS

Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.