Murray beats Federer to reach Shanghai final


Murray beats Federer to reach Shanghai final

SHANGHAI (AP) Two-time defending champion Andy Murray beat an erratic-serving Roger Federer in a rainy semifinal Saturday, setting up a U.S. Open final rematch against Novak Djokovic at the Shanghai Masters.

Djokovic reached his 10th final of the year by defeating fourth-seeded Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-4 in the earlier semifinal. Djokovic is looking for his fifth title of the year and second straight after winning in Beijing last week.

Federer's serve gave him so much trouble that in one stretch he double-faulted three straight times. When asked if he had done before, he said: ``It has happened, and today again. It happens, unfortunately.''

Murray broke Federer in the fifth game of the first set but then wasted seven break points in the first game of the second. The top-ranked Swiss held serve before a brief rain delay.

But Federer couldn't stave off Murray, who again broke to go up 3-2. There was one more rain delay before the U.S. Open champion served out the match.

The players left the court for about 30 minutes at 5-4 while organizers closed the eight-petal magnolia-shaped roof. When play resumed, Murray needed only five points to finish the match.

``You'll pay the price by having an average game like that against a top guy like Andy,'' Federer said.

Murray, seeded third, improved his record against Federer to 10-8. Murray won their previous match, the Olympic final in London. Federer won their Wimbledon final earlier this summer.

Federer struggled with his first serve, double-faulting five times. Federer lost his serve in the fifth game of the first set when from 0-15 he double-faulted three straight times.

``I was able to be very aggressive on his second serve,'' Murray said. ``He, maybe, slowed down his first serve a little bit so I was able to take a few more chances on his first serve.''

Djokovic recorded his tour-leading 69th victory of the year. The second-seeded Serb hit 25 winners and converted all three of his break points to improve his head-to-head record against Berdych to 10-1.

``Movement today was very important from my side, to be on a very high level so I can try to get into the longer rallies where I find more chances on my side to win the rallies,'' Djokovic said. ``(I) played tactically right. I was putting a lot of returns into the court, making a lot of pressure on his serve.''

Djokovic rushed to a 5-1 lead in the first set. When serving for the set at 5-2 he was broken for the only time in the 1 hour, 25 minute match. In the second set, Djokovic broke the Czech's serve in the third game.

``I need to give credit to Novak. He started really like a champion,'' Berdych said. ``He started really, really great, and didn't give me a chance at all.''

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins. With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
W1. Philadelphia (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

2. Pittsburgh (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
W2. New Jersey (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

2. Boston (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
Florida (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings..

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 23, 34 days before the NFL draft.  

Stability at the top of the depth chart

A Redskins defense that ranked 27th in total defense and was dead last against the run is likely to return nine or 10 of the players who were the primary starters in 2017. The Washington defense, which was 16th overall and 27th running the ball, will certainly return seven starters and could have eight the same as last year.

I’m sure that this will alarm many Redskins fans, but it shouldn’t. Before getting into that, let’s look at the changes.

On defense, the nine starters who are assured of returning are DE Stacy McGee, DL Jonathan Allen, OLB Preston Smith, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Zach Brown, ILB Mason Foster, CB Josh Norman, S Montae Nicholson, and S D.J. Swearinger.

As of right now, a tenth returning starter has to be penciled in at nose tackle. Yes, if the season started today it would be Ziggy Hood at nose tackle again. More on that in a minute.

The only starting spot that is certain to turn over is the cornerback opposite Norman. Even though Bashaud Breeland’s contract agreement with the Panthers fell through due to a failed physical, he is much more likely to land on another NFL team than he is to return to the Redskins.

It is impossible to think that the Redskins will not do something to address the nose tackle position, whether it’s in the draft or in free agency. Then again, it’s impossible to believe they have run the 3-4 defense since 2010 without coming up with a long-term solution at the nose.

On offense, the seven starters certain to return are WR Josh Doctson, WR Jamison Crowder, OT Trent Williams, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses, and TE Jordan Reed. RB Samaje Perine could be an eighth returning starter depending on if the Redskins take a running back early in the draft.

The new starters will be QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson, and someone at left guard.

Having between 16 and 18 returning starters from a team that went 7-9 in 2017 may not be enough turnover for some fans. That’s not a completely unreasonable point of view. However, there is such thing as having too much churn in your starting lineup and some stability for the Redskins may be a good thing this year.

They had five new starters on defense last year and a new defensive coordinator. They also had a new coordinator on offense along with two new wide receivers and, by midseason, changes in the starters at running back and center. This is not counting all of the on-the-fly changes that had to be made due to injuries.

Continuing to make changes in the starting lineup is not always a recipe for success. Sometimes you just need to pick a group of players and, to the extent that you can in the free agency-salary cap world of the NFL, stick with them. Sure, you have to address weakness like nose tackle and possibly running back and fill holes created by free agency departures. However, it is often better to give a player time to acclimate to a system and, especially with a rookie, time to learn the fine points of the game.

Tearing things down and starting over again after a mediocre season is a recipe for, well, more mediocre seasons.

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

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In response to a tweet about this article that said that the Redskins led the league in losing important players in injuries:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 25
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 127
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 171

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