Murray loses to Tipsarevic in Abu Dhabi tournament


Murray loses to Tipsarevic in Abu Dhabi tournament

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Andy Murray's 2013 season got off to a shaky start Thursday with a 6-3, 6-4 loss to Janko Tipsarevic in the opening match of the World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament.

Two early breaks in each set helped Tipsarevic dispatch the third-ranked Murray. The Serb next faces Nicolas Almagro, a late replacement for Rafael Nadal who pulled out of the tournament with a stomach bug.

``It's not every day that you get to play a Grand Slam champion and an Olympic gold medalist,'' said Tipsarevic, who is ranked No. 9. ``I know it's an early-season tournament but I can tell you that the six of us take this very seriously.''

``I knew I could beat Andy as I have beaten him before,'' he added. ``He's a totally different animal now as he won a Grand Slam and Olympic gold so beating him here has given me confidence. Both of us have very similar games so it's great to come out on top.''

In Thursday's other match, fifth-ranked David Ferrer defeated sixth-ranked Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4 to set up a semifinal against top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who won the tournament last year. Ferrer easily won the first set after jumping to a 5-0 lead. He broke serve early in the second.

``I played well today and I was surprised as it has been a long time without playing a competition,'' Ferrer said. ``It's a fast court and this was the first time I played at night but I played a good game. I will enjoy a victory for now, but tomorrow I will have to play my best against Novak.''

Djokovic said winning the French Open - the only Grand Slam tournament he has yet to capture - is his top goal of the year.

``I managed to have the best year of my career in 2011 and I knew that it was going to be difficult in 2012 to maintain No. 1 in the world and play consistently,'' Djokovic said. ``I did, and so this year was an even more successful year from a psychological aspect. ... Ambitions are always high and I want to win every Grand Slam and major tournament I play, and this year is no different.''

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."