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Top-ranked Djokovic holds off Murray at ATP finals

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Top-ranked Djokovic holds off Murray at ATP finals

LONDON (AP) In what is shaping up to be the new top rivalry in tennis, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray whacked the ball for three more grueling sets Wednesday at the ATP finals.

Advantage, Djokovic.

The top-ranked Serb got the big break when he needed it late in the third set and held off Murray 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 at the O2 Arena.

``I think both of us probably see each other's games pretty well. Especially this year, because we've played so much,'' said Murray, who beat Djokovic to win his first major title at the U.S. Open. ``But the one thing I would say is, this year I think both of us probably have seen things in each other's games probably improve, and that's why there's a lot of long rallies, and the matches are incredibly tight.''

Despite the win, Djokovic still hasn't advanced to the semifinals at the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world. But he can make it through if Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeats Tomas Berdych in the other Group B match later Wednesday.

Djokovic is now 4-3 against Murray in 2012, with his biggest win coming in a five-setter in the Australian Open semifinals. But Murray had won two of the previous three, including in the semifinals of the Olympics and in the U.S. Open final - another five-setter.

Overall, Djokovic now leads the third-ranked Murray 10-7 in head-to-head meetings.

``I'd say our strengths are similar in terms of what we do well on the court,'' Murray said. ``Our return game has been very strong for the last few years. Our movement, as well. That's why there's a lot of normally long rallies.''

Murray looked unbeatable at the start Wednesday, breaking Djokovic in the first game and losing only three points on his serve in the first set.

But Djokovic was able to convert break chances in each of the next two sets, and then for a third time at 5-5 in the final set to serve out the match.

Djokovic still didn't have an easy time as Murray quickly earned two break points in the final game. But a forehand smash and a service winner erased the danger before a pair of errors from Murray ended the match.

``The last two minutes of the match probably is what decided it,'' Murray said. ``He broke from 15-40, and then I had 15-40 next game and didn't break. So that was the moment that decided the match.''

Murray has had a breakthrough season this year. He became the first British man since 1938 to reach the Wimbledon final, and soon after won the Olympic gold medal by beating Roger Federer on the same grass at the All England Club.

Murray's biggest win came in September when he became the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a major tennis title with the victory over Djokovic at the U.S. Open.

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”

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Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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