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Qualifier to play Ferrer in Paris Masters final

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Qualifier to play Ferrer in Paris Masters final

PARIS (AP) Jerzy Janowicz became the first qualifier in eight years to reach the Paris Masters final on Saturday, extending his sensational run to meet David Ferrer.

Janowicz will bid for his first career title against Ferrer, who is tied with Roger Federer for the most tour titles this year. Ferrer can move ahead of the Swiss star if he clinches his seventh win of the year on Sunday.

Ferrer, the only seed in the semifinals at No. 4, outlasted Michael Llodra to beat the Frenchman 7-5, 6-3.

The 69th-ranked Janowicz, who was playing in Futures tournaments at the start of the year, has beaten five top-20 players on his improbable run. The Pole knocked out Philipp Kohlschreiber (19) Marin Cilic (15), Andy Murray (3) and Janko Tipsarevic (9) before topping 20th-ranked Gilles Simon of France 6-4, 7-5 in the semifinals.

``How is this possible?'' Janowicz said. ``I came here just to play qualifications, and suddenly after a few days I'm in the final. I don't know how did I this, but tomorrow the final is waiting for me. Wow.''

Janowicz blocked out the Paris crowd's overwhelming support for the Frenchman Simon. He broke in the fifth game of the first set and in the 11th of the second, clinching victory on his second match point.

After hugging Simon at the net, Janowicz let out a scream and dropped to the court with his head in his hands after becoming the first player in 12 years to reach a final on his Masters debut.

``I didn't know what I was supposed to think, and I had a thousand different kinds of feelings,'' Janowicz said. ``When I had match point today, I felt a little bit strange. I had (goose bumps).''

Janowicz won 88 percent of first-serve points and did not face a single break point.

``I think I'm among the best returners on the circuit each year, and I didn't get the slightest chance,'' Simon said.

Janowicz is still struggling for sponsorship and missed the Australian Open because he didn't have enough money to travel. He had previously reached only one career quarterfinal, in Moscow last month.

``The street next to my house actually is completely blocked. There is like about nine or 10 cars, TVs. There is no way to get to my house right now,'' he said. ``So I think after this final I have a chance to find some really good sponsors and I will not have to worry about the money.''

Poland President Bronislaw Komorowski is also a new admirer. Asked if he had been contacted by Komorowski, a smiling Janowicz said, ``I don't know if I can answer this question, but probably, yes.''

Janowicz is expected to break into the top 30 next week after beginning the year ranked 221st.

Jarkko Nieminen of Finland is the only qualifier to win a tournament this year, in Sydney in January.

The last player to reach a Masters final on debut was Harel Levy of Israel in 2000. He lost to Marat Safin in Toronto. Safin also beat qualifier Radek Stepanek in the Paris Masters final in 2004.

Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

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Cavaliers clamp down on Pitt

PITTSBURGH -- No. 1 Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright with a 66-37 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Freshman guard De'Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn't take big offensive efforts from Virginia's regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.

The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn't make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.

Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Pitt had next to no presence inside. The Panthers were outscored 28-8 in the paint and out-rebounded 36-24. Seven of Pitt's 11 made field goals were from beyond the arc.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.

RELATED: SEE THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-SABRES HERE

Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.