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After a tumble, Serena advances at Australian Open

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After a tumble, Serena advances at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Serena Williams tumbled to the court and needed a medical timeout in the first set for treatment on her right ankle. Once she got up, it was all over for Edina Gallovits-Hall.

Williams routed Gallovits-Hall 6-0, 6-0 in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday despite the scary sequence in the first part of the match.

The No. 3-ranked Williams is favored to win the season's first major, rolling into Melbourne Park with 35 wins in her previous 36 matches, including titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics and the U.S. Open. But the injury could be a significant setback as she seeks a third consecutive Grand Slam title.

Williams said there was pain and swelling in her ankle and X-rays were an option, but she wanted to leave any decisions about treatment for a few hours. She gets a day off before her scheduled second-round match on Thursday against Spain's Garbine Muguruza, who outlasted Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 4-6, 6-1, 14-12. The third set of their match on Court 13 lasted 2 hours and 9 minutes.

``Oh, I'll be out there,'' she said. ``I mean, unless something fatal happens to me, there's no way I'm not going to be competing. I'm alive. My heart's beating. I'll be fine.''

Williams said she's overcome plenty of injuries in previous trips to the Australian Open, where she has won five titles.

``I've played this tournament with so many injuries and was able to come off pretty on top,'' she said. ``So for me it's just another page and a great story to tell the grandkids one day.''

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka also advanced, coming back from a break down in the second set to beat Monica Niculescu 6-1, 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena.

Azarenka is ranked No. 1 but has lost 11 of her 12 career matches against Williams, and knows how hard it is to beat the veteran American in any condition.

``I heard she won love and love, so what kind of injury are we talking about?'' she said.

Azarenka's win was sandwiched between matches on the same court involving two of the main contenders for the men's title. No. 3 Andy Murray won his first match as a Grand Slam champion, beating Robin Haase of the Netherlands in straight sets, and No. 2 Roger Federer fended off Benoit Paire of France 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.

With a packed program on the center court, Williams was playing on the second of the show courts.

The 31-year-old Williams was leading 4-0 after 19 minutes when she fell awkwardly chasing a ball wide on her forehand side, putting both hands over her face.

She rolled from her back to her hands and knees, where she stayed for several minutes before she was helped to her feet. The 15-time major winner started limping before easing into a walking stride as she made her way to her court-side chair to have her already heavily taped ankle treated and then re-taped.

``I think I was really, really close to panicking because a very similar thing happened to me last year, almost on the same side, the same shot,'' Williams said. ``So I almost panicked, and I thought, I can't do that. I just have to really remain calm and think things through.''

Williams won the first point after the medical timeout, approaching the net to hit a cross-court winner, seemingly unfazed by the ankle. She hit two more forehand winners to go up 5-0, then called the trainer back to the court to adjust the taping on the ankle during the changeover. She had more treatment after winning the first set.

Williams winced slightly after jumping to hit an overhead in the third game of the second set and called the trainer out again to re-tape the ankle during the changeover, leading 3-0.

She dominated the second set despite the injury, allowing the Romanian player to win just six points.

Murray beat Haase 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in the opening round and was asked what it felt like to play after his triumph at the U.S. Open, where he became the first British man since 1936 to win a major title.

``I can try and focus on the second part of my career now,'' he said.

The 25-year-old Murray seemed more at ease and relaxed than he had been in previous trips to the season's first major.

``It was a good start, nice to win in straight sets,'' he said. ``It was the hottest day we've had for a while so the court was playing much quicker.''

It's been 12 months since Murray started working with eight-time major winner Ivan Lendl, and he attributes much of the success in his breakthrough 2012 to his partnership with his new coach.

It's relaxed ``in front of the cameras, yeah,'' Murray joked. ``Behind closed doors he works me very hard.

``We've had a very good relationship so far. He's very honest, very open. He doesn't lie to you, he tells you exactly how it is and that's exactly what I needed.''

Also advancing were No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 13 Milos Raonic of Canada, who beat Jan Hajek 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (0), No. 17 . Philipp Kohlschreiber, No. 21 Andreas Seppi and No. 25 Florian Mayer.

In a record for the Australian Open, 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm upset No. 12-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia 6-2, 6-0 to become the oldest woman to win a singles match at the tournament.

In other women's matches, former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki won the last six games to beat Sabine Lisicki of Germany 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to advance along with No. 16 Roberta Vinci, No. 17 Lucie Safarova and No. 29 Sloane Stephens, the American teenager who beat Simona Halep of Romania 6-1, 6-1.

Former U.S. Open and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova continued her comeback from a knee injury that kept her out of the U.S. Open, ending her run of 40 consecutive majors. Also, No. 14 Maria Kirilenko had a 6-4, 6-2 win over American Vania King, and China's Peng Shuai beat Canada's Rebecca Marino 6-3, 6-0.

The men's tour was coming to grips Tuesday with the news that Brad Drewett has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease, and will be replaced as ATP World Tour executive chairman and president.

The 54-year-old Australian has held the top ATP position since Jan. 1 last year, but had previously led operations in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific regions since 2006. He was a top 40 singles and top 20 doubles player before he retired as a player in 1990.

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'He's a heart-and-soul guy:' Capitals begin to process Oshie injury after Game 4 loss

'He's a heart-and-soul guy:' Capitals begin to process Oshie injury after Game 4 loss

RALEIGH — T.J. Oshie shuffled out of the Capitals locker room, hunched over, half dressed, his face a mask of anguish and pain, his right arm pinned against his body. 

He made it to the X-ray room at PNC Arena on his own, two medical staffers at his side, moaning as he entered to learn his fate. Moments later, his teammates came off the ice at that same spot, 2-1 losers to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 of a Stanley Cup playoffs first-round series. 

Players clomped past in various states of frustration and distress. Nicklas Backstrom smashed his stick against a wall and, when it only half broke, finished it off with one last theatrical whack. 

It was a perfect summation of Washington’s visit to Raleigh, where it arrived with a 2-0 series lead and left tied 2-2 with a critical Game 5 back home at Capital One Arena on Saturday. 

Oshie will not be with them. He will be out “for quite some time,” said Capitals coach Todd Reirden. Carolina forward Warren Foegele nudged Oshie from behind as both skated near full speed and he crashed hard into the boards in Washington’s offensive zone. 

Oshie yelled out in pain and lay on the ice for several minutes. He was helped off the ice and Foegele received a two-minute penalty for boarding. That did not sit well with Oshie’s teammates, who failed to score on the power play. They thought the play deserved more – a major penalty, for sure, and supplemental discipline by the NHL Department of Player Safety. They didn’t get the five minutes. They might get a suspension when the league looks at the play.   

“It was a defenseless player that was quite a distance from the boards,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “It’s an extremely dangerous play and (Oshie) will not be with our team for a while.”

Added captain Alex Ovechkin: "Did you see that? What did you think? I was on the ice, I watched the puck, so I didn't see what happened there, but if you think it's not a dirty play, you have to watch it again."

The frustration was understandable. Oshie had 25 goals in 69 games this season. He missed 11 with a concussion in November before returning. On Thursday, he’d moved up to the top line with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and he’s been a staple on the second line much of the season. He is as skilled a player as there is on the Capitals and has a goal and an assist in the series. 

“It’s always tough. He plays the game so hard,” goalie Braden Holtby said. “He’s a heart-and-soul guy. I have no idea what it is or whatever. But the thing with [Oshie] is no matter what he’s going to find a way to have a positive impact on our team - whether in or out. It doesn’t matter. He’s a leader and he’s a guy that guys want to fight for.”

Carolina didn’t agree with the Capitals, of course. Foegele called it “an unfortunate play” where he was just trying to lift Oshie’s stick and he lost an edge and careened into the boards. It doesn’t matter now. With the series now even, Washington will have to build on a much better game than it played Monday night in a 5-0 loss, but without one of its best players. On Friday they can begin figuring that out. On the plane ride home Thursday night they were still trying to process what happened to Oshie. 

“We have all those meetings. GMs make meetings with referees and watch the video and it's two minutes?” Ovechkin said. “We're players and we have to go out there and play, but those guys have to make a decision. They can't be afraid. If the guy hurt, it's a dirty play, it has to be not two minutes. It has to be different call."

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'He barely hit him': Rod Brind'Amour finds a way to downplay T.J. Oshie injury

'He barely hit him': Rod Brind'Amour finds a way to downplay T.J. Oshie injury

The Capitals were incensed by Warren Foegele’s shove to the back of T.J. Oshie in Game 4 on Thursday that sent Oshie dangerously into the boards and knocked him out of the game. Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, however, does not know what all the fuss is about.

“You see a lot of hits that are way, way worse than that,” Brind’Amour told the media after the game.

Oshie entered into the offensive zone with the puck and Foegele came in on the backcheck. Oshie had a good position on the puck, blocking Foegele out with his back. Foegele responded with a cross-check to the back of Oshie that knocked him over face-first awkwardly into the boards. Oshie appeared to strike the boards with his right shoulder and was doubled over in obvious pain as he slowly made his way off the ice.

Ovechkin was so angry that he followed Foegele and continued yelling at him after he went into the penalty box.

But Brind’Amour did not see it as a dirty play.

“I think [Oshie] just went in awkward,” Brind’Amour said. “I don't know the extent of the injury or whatever. Barely hit him I thought, really. He gave him a little shove, but it certainly wasn't what we've been seeing out here.”

In fact, Brind’Amour did not think a penalty was going to be called at all until Oshie stayed on the ice.

“There wasn't a penalty being called and then obviously he crashed into the boards hard and that's when the arm went up because he stayed down,” Brind’Amour said. “You don't like to see that, but I think more than anything he just was not ready for the hit.”

For those of you keeping track at home, Brind’Amour took issue with two consenting players fighting one another, but a cross-check to the back leaves a guy doubled over in pain and, well, he just was not ready for the hit.

Right.

Of course, you can file this away under, “What is he supposed to say?” It’s not as if Brind’Amour would come out and bury his own player for an illegal hit. He is going to defend his guy. Having said that, there were probably better ways to handle the injury of an opposing player rather than diminishing it quite as much as Brind’Amour seemed to.

“We've got way more injuries than they do,” Brind’Amour said. “I don't worry about their team.”

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