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Tsonga doesn't let tough loss get him down

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Tsonga doesn't let tough loss get him down

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Five years have passed since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made his dazzling run to the final of the Australian Open at the age of 22.

The flashy Frenchman hasn't been back to the final of a major since then.

Tsonga has a big game that can trouble the top players - he rallied from two sets down to beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2011 - but he's struggled to beat them consistently. He was just 1-15 against the top 10 players last year, with his only win coming against Juan Martin del Potro in Rome.

The seventh-seeded Frenchman lost another tight match to a top player in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, falling to No. 2 Federer 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3.

When asked after the match why he feels it's so tough for him to beat the top players, a disappointed Tsonga was at a loss.

``To be honest, I have no idea. You know, if you have some advice for me, I will take it because I don't know. I don't know what is the difference,'' he said.

Tsonga might find success again with a new coach. After going more than a year without a coach, the Frenchman hired Roger Rasheed - the former coach of Gael Monfils and Lleyton Hewitt - a few months ago and said the impact has been immediate.

``He's giving me an extra motivation,'' Tsonga said. ``It's great because he's always positive. He wants maybe more than me to win. He's incredible.''

Even if he never wins a major, Tsonga remains one of the most entertaining players on tour - both on and off the court.

In his news conference after the Federer match, he drew laughter when he shared his thoughts on the difference between the top male and female tennis players.

``You know, the girls, they are more unstable emotionally than us. I'm sure everybody will say it's true - even the girls,'' he said, jokingly. ``I mean, it's just about hormones and all this stuff. We don't have all these bad things, so we are physically in a good shape every time.''

At one moment deep in the fifth set against Federer, Tsonga sprinted to hit a drop shot and, after hitting the ball, kept running around the net all the way to Federer's baseline.

He then turned and made a motion like he was going to hit Federer with a ball. The playful moment got a big laugh from the crowd - and even a little smile out of Federer.

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NO PAIN, NO GAIN: Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova sports a tattoo on her right bicep reading, ``Pain doesn't kill me, I kill the pain.''

A frightening moment during her Australian Open quarterfinal against No. 1 Victoria Azarenka on Wednesday put that maxim to the test.

Serving in the first game of the second set, Kuznetsova landed awkwardly after a fault, stumbled forward and nearly fell on the court.

She played through the pain, but never recovered in the match, winning only one more game in the 7-5, 6-1 loss.

Kuzentsova said later she thought she had reinjured the right knee that had kept her off the tour for six months last year. It was the first major layoff of her career - ending her run of 40 straight Grand Slam appearances.

``I was really scared because I almost broke it again,'' said the Russian, whose ranking has slipped to 75th. ``My knee went backward, the same way, exactly. It was like millimeters, very close, so I (thought) I broke it again the same way I did.''

Even though she lost, the 27-year-old Kuznetsova never imagined being back in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam so soon after the injury. The time off definitely did her some good - she feels refreshed and can see playing for several more years.

``I never had a thought of stopping tennis,'' she said. ``I always loved (the sport), but I wanted to have this desire to bring me back. This is what happened.''

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ON THE BEACH: Mike and Bob Bryan have one more Olympics left in them at Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Then they plan to stop playing and maybe relax.

The Bryan brothers have little left to accomplish on the tennis court. They've won 12 Grand Slam doubles titles, finished No. 1 for eight of the past 10 years and competed in three Olympic Games, winning gold last year in London.

But the chance to defend that gold will keep them in the sport for three more years.

``I think that's where we see the finish line. We'll be 38. We'd like to maybe go out at that spot,'' Mike Bryan says. ``And then we'll sail off into the sunset.''

``Maybe just stay in Rio for the rest of our lives,'' Bob said. ``Check into a motel on the beach and drink some margaritas.''

The Bryans stayed on track for a possible 13th Grand Slam doubles title by beating Daniele Bracciali and Lukas Dlouhy 6-3, 7-5 to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open.

They'll face the Italian team of Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini for a chance to play in their fifth straight Australian Open final.

``It's still fun. We create goals and new challenges each time we step out of the house in January,'' Mike Bryan says. ``The goal is to finish No. 1. That's it. That's really what we play for.''

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Lightning

After a rough start, the Caps battled back to make a game of it against Tampa Bay, but ultimately fell 4-2 to the Lightning. Here's why.

The first period

To put it simply, this game was lost in the opening period. Washington was the better team for the second and third but they could not overcome the 3-0 lead they spotted the Lightning in the first. Beyond the goals, the Caps just did not play well. Even the simplest of plays looked difficult as Washington struggled to get the puck out of their own zone, gave up numerous turnovers and scoring chances and just looked overmatched. Braden Holtby also looked shaky allowing three goals on just eight shots. Usually he is able to cover up some of the mistakes the defense makes it front of him, but he was not there to bail the team out on Tuesday in what was a really rocky start.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-LIGHTNING

Taking a penalty 34 seconds into the game

Entering Tuesday’s game, Tampa Bay boasted the second best power play unit in the league. Playing a disciplined game is part of every game plan, but that is especially true against such a dominant unit. Giving up a penalty just 34 seconds into the game was not an ideal start. The call itself was debatable. Brett Connolly was called for interference when he knocked over Dan Girardi in the offensive zone. The puck was just behind Girardi as he had lost control of it in his skates. The sticking point here is that Girardi no longer had possession and Connolly could have played the puck instead of the player. Most referees would probably let that go with the puck so close, but Connolly was not so lucky. Whether it was a good call or not, the Caps found themselves down a man and down a goal soon after as Brayden Point scored the power play tally.

A missed opportunity from Kuznetsov on one end, a goal for Nikita Kucherov on the other

Even after spotting the Lightning a 3-0 lead, the Caps made a game of it. Lars Eller struck on the power play in the second period and Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington to within one with about nine minutes left to play. Just over a minute later, Evgeny Kuznetsov stole the puck away from Nikita Kucherov, the frontrunner for league MVP this season, at the Tampa blue line giving the Caps a short 2-on-1. Defenseman Andrej Sustr was textbook on the play forcing Kuznetsov as far wide as he could go while still covering the passing lane and Kuznetsov elected to shoot from the faceoff dot rather than attempt the pass to T.J. Oshie.Andrei Vasilevskiy made a routine blocker save to deny what looked like a great opportunity to tie the game. As always happens in hockey, a failed opportunity on one end led to an opportunity in the other direction. Less than a minute later, Kucherov made up for his mistake by scoring a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach at 4-2.

MORE CAPITALS: KEMPNY EXCITED TO MOVE FROM LAST PLACE CHICAGO TO FIRST PLACE WASHINGTON

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3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

3 stars of the game: Lightning strike 3 times in the first to burn Caps

The first 20 minutes of Tuesday's game did not go well for Washington. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored three times in the opening frame and rode that lead all the way to the 4-2 win.

With the game heading towards a repeat of their blowout loss to Chicago, the Capitals rebounded in the second period to make a game of it as Lars Eller scored on a power play. Alex Ovechkin pulled Washington within one in the third period, but Nikita Kucherov slammed the door shut with a breakaway goal to extend the lead back to 2.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Brayden Point: Tampa Bay won this game in the first period when they took a 3-0 lead. Point scored two of those three goals. His first came only 2:30 into the game. He retreated to the blue line on the power play believing Jay Beagle would clear the puck. When Beagle turned the puck over, he recognized it and immediately crashed the net, taking a Ryan Callahan pass in the slot and shooting it through the five-hole of Braden Holtby.

On his second goal, Anton Stralman saw an opportunity on the Caps’ line change and passed the puck up to Point at the blue line. Point turned on the jets to get behind the defense and went five-hole again on Holtby to make the score 3-0.

2. Alex Ovechkin: After the first period, Washington slowly took this game over for much of the remaining 40 minutes. Ovechkin was a big part of that as he totaled an incredible 19 shot attempts for the game. Nine of those shots were on goal and he found the back of the net in the third period for career goal No. 594.

3. Tom Wilson: Through the first period, the Caps looked well on their way to a repeat of the 7-1 debacle they suffered Saturday in Chicago. They had nothing going in this game until Wilson drew a trip from Vladislav Namestnikov in the second period. Eller would score on the resulting power play giving Washington some much-needed life.

The Namestnikov penalty was the 29th drawn penalty of the season for Wilson, which moves him into a tie with Matthew Tkachuk for the most drawn penalties in the NHL.