Nationals

Azarenka's shrieks put to music

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Azarenka's shrieks put to music

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Music fans will soon get to hear the symphonic-like shrieking that Victoria Azarenka brings to her tennis.

The No. 1-ranked player and reigning Australian Open champion is known as one of the more vocal players on the women's tour, accompanying almost every whack of the ball with a high-pitched ``Ooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuwww.''

In a silent stadium, the sound can linger in the air.

Azarenka's friend, the American rapper Redfoo, who has produced multiple hit singles, has recognized some musical potential in the shriek. He recorded it and has mixed the sound into a new song due to be released soon, she said Monday.

``It's my grunt. It's not my vocals,'' Azarenka said, clarifying that she was not recorded singing. ``I don't take high-key or low-key there. It's just natural.''

Center court at Melbourne Park got a 57-minute Azarenka concert on Monday as she beat Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1 in the fourth round and continued her confident run toward the defense of her title. Going into the quarterfinals, Azarenka has dropped only one set.

Known for his wild hair and even wilder music, Redfoo has been seen cheering from Azarenka's players' box and signing autographs during most of her matches. Azarenka was quoted as telling Australian media that Redfoo, the LMFAO frontman whose real name is Stefan Kendal Gordy (he's the son of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy), had to fly off to a gig in Malaysia but plans to come back later in the week.

As an insider to the music world, Azarenka gets to listen to tunes the public hasn't heard yet - like a remix by Redfoo's friend GoonRock that she called ``Sweet Baby'' and says is ``really good.''

``Sweet Baby'' was piping into Azarenka's earbuds as she walked onto center court Monday, as she often does soaking in some last-minute musical inspiration before turning to tennis.

``If it's bad music, it's going to be a bad match,'' she said. ``So I really choose it very carefully.''

Music is a ``very important'' part of her pre-match preparation, Azarenka told a post-match news conference.

It helps ``focus, pump you up, get your feet a little bit moving, kind of get excited,'' she said. ``I kind of get in the zone.

``It just makes me feel good inside. When I feel good inside, I love to go out there and do the best job as I can.''

The 23-year-old Belarussian rose to the top of the rankings after winning last year's Australian Open and has stayed there for all but a few weeks ever since. She needs to defend her title to hold the top spot from No. 2 Maria Sharapova or No. 3 Serena Williams.

All three top-ranked women remain in contention, meaning the women's quarterfinals contains all of last year's Grand Slam winners. Sharapova won the French Open and Williams won at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Next up for Azarenka is Svetlana Kuznetsova, who entered the season's first major ranked No. 75 but has won titles at the 2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open.

Kuznetsova advanced after a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 win over Caroline Wozniacki, a former No. 1-player who will now slip out of the top 10.

The 27-year-old Kuznetsova said she noticed a difference in the temperment of Azarenka, who was prone in the past to hot-headed outbursts on court.

``She's changed and just become so stable,'' said Kuznetsova. ``I think she just got calmer. She's consistent.''

Going into the match feeling like the underdog gives Kuznetsova added confidence, she said.

``She's No. 1. I have nothing to lose. She has all the pressure,'' she said. ``I've got the game to give her some problems, and I will just do my best and try to enjoy it.''

Azarenka smiled when told her opponent had complimented her composure.

``I'm always going to be an emotional player,'' she said, adding that now she's learning how to pick the right reaction for each point.

``Sometimes you need to be more aggressive ... to pump yourself up,'' Azarenka said. ``Sometimes you just need to relax and breathe.''

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3 things to watch when the .500 Nationals head to Colorado

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3 things to watch when the .500 Nationals head to Colorado

The Nationals face the Rockies at Coors Field for the first half of this work week. Here are three things to watch for:

  1. Can the Nationals stay above .500? Stephen Strasburg’s impressive start along with Ryan Zimmerman’s two homers and two RBI kept Washington from being swept by the lowly Marlins.

  2. Who will produce with Anthony Rendon out? While the Nats 3B was sidelined with an elbow injury after being hit by a pitch in Saturday’s outing against the Marlins, Howie Kendrick started in his place. Kendrick went 1-for-3 vs Miami with one RBI and one strikeout. In terms of replacing Rendon’s hitting prowess, Victor Robles has started a streak of his own. The youngster is hot on a seven game hit streak, including a bunt over the infield Sunday.

  3. Will the Nationals ever sure up their end game? Yesterday’s ninth inning was on the brink of disaster. Kyle Barraclough allowed back-to-back walks, then Sean Doolittle loaded the bases. Luckily for the Nats, crisis averted.

Download the MyTeams app (https://www.nbcsports.com/washington/myteams-nbc-sports ) for even more Nationals content, and check out the latest episode of the Racing Presidents podcast below.

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NHL Playoffs 2019 Roundup: Blues eliminate Jets, Stars and Capitals pull ahead 3-2

NHL Playoffs 2019 Roundup: Blues eliminate Jets, Stars and Capitals pull ahead 3-2

Friday saw the Toronto Maple Leafs pull ahead 3-2 and the Colorado Avalanche eliminate the favored Calgary Flames. Saturday provided another elimination game and two teams pulled ahead 3-2 in their series.

Here are the results from Saturday.

St. Louis Blues eliminate Winnipeg Jets with 3-2 win

The Blues return to the second round of the playoffs after they were eliminated in the first round last season.

The Blues rally started 23 seconds into the game, when Jaden Schwartz put home a Brayden Schenn rebound.

Schwartz followed with two more goals, completing the hat trick. It's the second natural hat trick in a playoff series clinching game since Geoff Courtnall in 1992.

The Blues await the winner of the Nashville-Dallas series.

Dallas Stars pull ahead of Nashville Predators in 5-3 victory

The Stars were able to steal one from the Predators at Bridgestone Arena thanks to Jason Dickinson and Alexander Radulov's two goal performances.

Tyler Seguin added a goal of his own to pull the Stars ahead 4-2 at the end of the second period, and Ben Bishop recorded 30 saves.

The Stars have a chance to close the series at home Monday night.

Washington Capitals take upperhand on Carolina Hurricanes with 6-0 shutout

After dropping Game 4 in Carolina 2-1, the Caps exploded for six goals against the Hurricanes in a 6-0 win.

Nicklas Backstrom scored the opening two goals. He leads the Capitals in playoff goals with five and had a four point night.

The Caps also got production from their bottom six with Brett Connolly's goal and Nic Dowd's converted penalty shot. It's the first penalty shot a Caps player has successfully made in the playoffs.

Braden Holtby's shutout gave him seven in the playoffs, surpassing Olaf Kolzig's six for the franchise lead. The Caps have a chance to win the series in Carolina Monday night.

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