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6-time champ Federer reaches semis at ATP finals

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6-time champ Federer reaches semis at ATP finals

LONDON (AP) On an indoor court, Roger Federer can win even when he's not playing his best.

He proved that again Thursday at the ATP finals, beating David Ferrer 6-4, 7-6 (5) and advancing to the semifinals with a group match to spare despite struggling to land his serve and scrambling to stay in the long rallies.

``I've been very successful over the years. Probably won most titles indoors, maybe more than all the other guys combined,'' said Federer, who called it a natural surface for him. ``But that doesn't make me the best this week.''

He is, however, the big favorite.

The two-time defending champion is looking for his seventh title at the season-ending event for the top eight players in the world. He is 2-0 at the O2 Arena, with his last group match against Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro on Saturday.

Del Potro beat Janko Tipsarevic 6-0, 6-4 in the other Group B match, improving his record to 1-1 and eliminating the Serb with two losses. But Del Potro still needs to beat Federer to advance.

``Win in two sets gives me a chance to go to the next round,'' said Del Potro, who traded shots with Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero after the match. ``But before I need to beat Roger once again.''

Federer made only 53 percent of his first serves against Ferrer. And in his first two service games alone, he was forced to save six break points.

But he did save them, and three others, while getting broken only once.

``I definitely needed a good second serve, especially in the first set,'' Federer said. ``I didn't have that many serves in play the way I wanted to. Either the rhythm was off a bit or I wasn't pushing enough with the legs or whatever it might have been.''

With the victory, Federer improved to 14-0 in his career against Ferrer. In 10 years of facing each other, Ferrer has won only three sets against the 17-time Grand Slam champion.

That looked like it was going to change Thursday.

Ferrer was on the run for the entire match, getting to ball after ball to extend rallies and keep Federer on the move. In the opening game, the Spaniard quickly took a 0-40 lead but failed to convert any of his three break chances.

He had three more chances in the third game - minutes after the Swiss had broken Ferrer's serve - but again Federer was able to pull through and hold.

``I had a lot of chances ... I can't do it,'' said Ferrer, who won the Paris Masters last week for his tour-leading seventh title of the season. ``Sometimes with these players, if I don't take my chance, I don't win the important points; it's very difficult to win these matches.''

Ferrer did finally manage a break to get back on serve at 3-2, but Federer didn't allow another. Both were forced to save break points in the second set, however. Federer saved two, and Ferrer one.

``Ferrer showed why he's so tough to beat. He makes you hit the extra shot. He makes it physical,'' Federer said. ``You know that mentally he's not going to go anywhere.''

Ferrer has a chance to overtake Rafael Nadal as the fourth-ranked player in the world, but he may need to win the title to achieve it.

``I don't think about that because Rafa is injured. For me, I don't care if I finish 4 or 5,'' Ferrer said. ``I am trying to do my best to have a great tournament here. And after here, then next week I will have a very important Davis Cup final.''

Tipsarevic was the first to be eliminated from the tournament. The Serb entered the ATP finals after retiring from his quarterfinal match at the Paris Masters because of illness.

``I wouldn't really blame my loss on the sickness. I am generally feeling fine,'' said Tipsarevic, adding that his lack of playing time was hurting his game. ``I'm playing horrible. I'm playing worse than horrible. I'm playing the worst tennis that I played in a long time.''

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler