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Agassi makes 1st return to Australian Open

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Agassi makes 1st return to Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Andre Agassi says one of the biggest regrets of his career was waiting until 1995 - a full decade after turning professional - to play in the Australian Open.

It took him a while to return to Melbourne after his retirement in 2006, too.

``It feels long overdue,'' Agassi said Friday when he walked into the news conference room at Melbourne Park in his first trip back since his loss to Roger Federer in the quarterfinals in 2005.

The four-time Australian Open champion pulled out his cellphone and snapped a photo of the reporters crammed into the tiny space. ``Do you mind if I memorialize this for posterity?'' he asked the room to laughter.

Now 42 and the father of two children with wife Steffi Graf, Agassi will take part in a ceremony before the men's final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in Rod Laver Arena on Sunday.

He's glad his career ended before the age of the so-called Big Four of men's tennis because he doesn't think he'd be able to compete against the group - Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Djokovic and Murray.

The game bears little resemblance to how he played just a decade ago, Agassi said. He ``marvels'' at the athleticism of the top men and their ability to recover quickly after draining matches, such as Djokovic's epic five-setter with Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals this week.

``It's just a different standard of tennis,'' said the eight-time Grand Slam winner. ``It's different rules of engagement when guys can do what these guys can do.

``It means the game has gotten a lot better. You know, Fed raised it. Nadal matched and raised it. Djokovic, for that intense little period of time, even raised it,'' Agassi added. ``When I see those top three guys, I see what history will say is the golden age of tennis. You're talking about arguably the three best guys.''

As for Murray, who edged Federer in five sets in the semifinal on Friday, Agassi believes the Scot is coming into his own.

``He believes now, and so now you're talking about four guys,'' he said. ``They've separated themselves from the field.''

In the final, he picked Djokovic to walk away with his third consecutive title and fourth overall Down Under.

When asked how he would have tried to beat a player of Djokovic's caliber, Agassi wisecracked, ``I would have probably gotten in a fight with him in the locker room before the match. I might have had a chance.''

Agassi also touched on the question of drug-testing in tennis in the wake of Lance Armstrong's doping confession - and reflected on his own recreational drug use during his career.

In his 2009 autobiography ``Open,'' Agassi admitted to using crystal meth during his playing days in the late 1990s and lying about it to tennis authorities after failing a drug test, telling them he unwittingly consumed a spiked drink.

Agassi said Friday he believes tennis has always led the way on drug testing, but more transparency and greater accountability can only be a good thing.

``It would have kept me from destroying a few years of my life,'' he said. ``That's what I did to myself with the use of the recreational, destructive substance of crystal meth.

``Anything that can protect the integrity of the sport, and those that aren't cheating should absolutely be considered. The more (testing), the better as far as I'm concerned.''

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

Vernon Davis has long been a fan favorite in the D.C. area since his University of Maryland days. The 34-year-old is almost always well-dressed and respectful to the media. 

More recently, he has been outspoken about his interest in acting after his football career. A true renaissance man who just so happens to be a force in the National Football League. 

In April, NBC Sports Washington ran into Davis at the Team USA Awards where he was serving as guest speaker. 

He took his smooth nature to a whole new level Tuesday while vacationing in Ocean City, Md. with his girlfriend Kayla. 

Dressed in all white on the beach, Davis proposed in an epic way. 

The best motivation I ever had. #shesmyrock

A post shared by Vernon Davis (@vernondavis85) on

Check out the whole video produced below. We won't spoil it for you, but there were skydivers involved. Take a look: 

Davis will suit up for his third season with the Redskins when training camp opens July 26 in Richmond. 

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

Friday night marks the first second-half game of Major League Baseball's 162-game season. 

The Washington Nationals begin 5.5 games out of the first-place Phillies and host the second-place Braves for a three-game series before traveling to Milwaukee. 

One big piece to Dave Martinez's staff who has been missing since June 8 is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander was activated from the DL and will start on the mound Friday night. 

Ryan Zimmerman was also activated but is not in Martinez's starting lineup. 

Prior to experiencing inflammation in his right shoulder during a June 8 start that forced him out of the game early, Strasburg saw flashes of dominance throughout his 13 starts owning a 3.46 ERA with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. 

Zimmerman hasn't played since May 9 due to a strained right oblique. With the emergence of Matt Adams, it will be interesting to see how Martinez uses both guys throughout the summer. 

Here is a look at Friday night's official lineup: 

According to Byron Kerr, Zimmerman is still happy to be back, despite not being in the starting lineup. 

Catch the Nationals hosting the Braves Friday at 7:05 p.m. on MASN2.