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Risk taker, shot maker: Dolgopolov wins Citi Open

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Risk taker, shot maker: Dolgopolov wins Citi Open

Alexandr Dogolpolov likes risk, like driving racecars in excess of 200 miles per hour kind of risk. The 23-year-old brings that daring edge with him to his day job. When the rains stopped, the final ball struck on the slick Stadium court, it was the No. 2 seed taking the Citi Open checkered flag.Neither rain nor humidity nor playing into the gloom of night could stop Dogolpolov from the biggest win of his career. He put a stamp on a weeks worth of strong performances by delivering Tommy Haas a rare finals loss on U.S. soil, 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-1 triumph in the Citi Open championship on Sunday.Absent throughout the week, cascading rain chose the inopportune time of the mens championship for its first substantial visit at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center. The match started shortly after 4 p.m. with a strong contingent watching on the Stadium Court. By the time play resumed after two first-set delays totaling two hours and 52 minutes, only an intimate crowd of 250 or so remained for the back-and-forth affair that turned one-sided late.With a match like that thats really tight, goes up and down, the rain breaks, I am really happy that I stayed concentrated and was in the match all the three sets, said Dogolpolov after his second career title. Im just happy to win it.Those that stuck around witnessed Haas tough out a first set tiebreaker, but also the start of the 34-year-old wearing down physically and mentally. Haas missed significant time in recent years with hip and shoulder injuries, but has reached three finals this summer including a win over Roger Federer.The tennis diehardsalso saw the continuation of Dolgopolov smacking ever-widening serves, finessing timely drop shots and taking chances with his groundstrokes others might deem unwise. I like risking in life so I do that on the court. I just like playing tennis like that, said Dogolpolov, who made his Washington debut this week. Im just a risky person. I dont think about the percentages, I like to do it my way.After squandering a set point at 6-5 in the first, Haas fired his racket to the ground. When he struggled with his first service game of the second set audible outbursts started becoming part of his routine. Frustration rose when Dogolpolov saved a break point at 2-all with a nifty volley winner. Facing break point at 4-all, 30-40, Haass backhand went long, one of his 43 unforced errors in the match. He lost the set, his first all week. When Haasdropped four straight points on his serve to fall behind 0-2 in the third, it was just a matter of time before he lost his second set.Hes a shot maker, he goes for his stuff, said Haas, who fell to 8-1 in finals played on U.S. soil. I thought I stayed with it until the middle, the end of the second set. Had a break point and he came up with a good shot and sometimes you just have to say it was too well played. When I lost the second set, I think I cracked a little bit mentally.Dolgopolov noticed.He was giving away more free points than he did in the first set and throughout the tournament, the Kiev, Ukraine native said. I think it was a part of him, a part of it being the final, a part of my game. It all helped it to go wrong for him.Dolgopolov jumped back into the top 20 after falling outside last week. His one win and three finals appearances on tour came in lower-tier events, making Washingtons 500 level opportunity the biggest of his career.Before the mens final and the skies opened, Alexandria native Treat Huey and former University of Virginia teammate Dominic Inglot defeated Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson 7-6 (7), 6-7 (9) and 10-5 in a third-set super-tiebreaker.Huey, a St. Stephens and St. Agnes graduate, was a regular whenever the mens tour came to the Rock Creek Park courts. All these years, his first win on tour Huey and Inglot lost a finals appearance earlier this year - comes on the very same grounds.It has been unbelievable to play here in Washington, said the 26-year-old Huey. I always watched this tournament when I was a little kid. Dominic and I had a fun week here. Its always more fun when you win.

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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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