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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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Charlotte Hornets agree to trade Dwight Howard to Brooklyn Nets, per report

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USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte Hornets agree to trade Dwight Howard to Brooklyn Nets, per report

Let the trades begin.

The Charlotte Hornets are trading Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for center Timofey Mozgov, cash and two future second-round picks, according to league sources of ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowksi

One of the two future second-round picks will take place in Thursday's NBA Draft, the other in 2021. 

Howard, who is entering his 15th season in the league, had a $23.8 million expiring contract. He is changing teams for the third time in three years. 

Mozgov, who did not see a lot of playing time in Brooklyn during the 2017-'18 season, had two years, $32.7 million left on his contract. The trade will save the Nets close to $17 million during the 2019-'20 season, opening up two max salary slots for free agency in 2019. 

The deal can not become official until July 6th when the moratorium period ends. 

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Wizards will play against Knicks in London in 2018-19 regular season game

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Wizards will play against Knicks in London in 2018-19 regular season game

The Wizards will be heading across the pond next year to play a regular season game in London, England against the New York Knicks, the NBA announced on Wednesday.

The game is set for January 17 at the O2 arena in southeast London. It is usually used for concerts, but has become a popular location for NBA international showcase games. Last season, the Sixers and Celtics played there, also in January.

This will be the ninth NBA game played in England and the first for the Wizards. Washington point guard John Wall shared his reaction in the press release.

“It will be an honor to represent the Washington Wizards organization as we play our first game in the UK,” Wall said. “I look forward to connecting with our fans in London and using the experience to further bond as a team.”

The Wizards have several international players on their roster including Marcin Gortat (Poland), Ian Mahinmi (France) and Tomas Satoransky (Czech Republic).

The Wizards last played overseas in 2013 when they had a preseason game in Brazil. This is the first international regular season game in franchise history.

Majority owner Ted Leonsis also reacted to the news via the team's website.

“We are excited about the opportunity to play our first overseas regular season game in London next year,” said Leonsis. “The Wizards have a long tradition of playing international exhibition games and we love the chance to be global ambassadors for the game. We’re looking forward to getting the chance to play in front of fans in the UK.”

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