Nationals

Davydenko, Monfils reach quarterfinals in Qatar

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Davydenko, Monfils reach quarterfinals in Qatar

DOHA, Qatar (AP) Nikolay Davydenko reached the Qatar Open quarterfinals by beating fourth-seeded Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 6-3 on Wednesday.

Once ranked as high as No. 3, Davydenko has struggled in recent years because of injuries. But the Russian combined a consistent first serve with aggressive play to unnerve the 25th-ranked Youzhny.

Gael Monfils defeated third-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

Davydenko broke his opponent to take a 6-5 lead in the first set and won when Youzhny hit a forehand into the net. Davydenko kept the momentum going into the second set, forcing Youzhny to save a break point in the first and third games. At 2-2, Davydenko won three straight games to take control.

``Tough match,'' said Davydenko, who won the tournament in Doha three years ago. ``Maybe we didn't start well with so many mistakes. I know against Russians when you play in second round, it's not easy.''

The 44th-ranked Davydenko said he was targeting a place in the top 20 this year after failing to win a tournament in 2012.

``If I really concentrate and (practice) and play, I want to see results,'' he said.

Monfils, who has fallen to 77th in the rankings after knee troubles forced him to cut short his 2012 season, used his powerful serve to take the lead. But in the second set, the Frenchman appeared to get frazzled by a new rule that requires players to serve in 25 seconds.

Monfils repeatedly argued with the umpire after a warning that he was taking too long, and Kohlschreiber soon took a 5-1 lead in the set.

In the third set, Monfils had four of his 10 aces and Kohlschreiber started making more unforced errors. The German also missed three early chances to break Monfils.

``I was very pleased with my game,'' said Monfils, who beat Rafael Nadal last year to reach the Qatar Open final. ``I didn't know what to expect. I am 100 percent.''

Nadal is sidelined because of a virus, and he's not expected to play until February.

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Former Astros RP Will Harris dons ‘District of Champions’ T-shirt for Nationals press conference

Former Astros RP Will Harris dons ‘District of Champions’ T-shirt for Nationals press conference

Will Harris may have been the pitcher who served up Howie Kendrick’s go-ahead home run in Game 7 of last fall’s World Series, but he apparently isn’t holding any grudges about the outcome.

Harris, who spent five years with the Houston Astros before signing a three-year deal with the Nationals over the winter, sat down for a Zoom press conference Tuesday in what his first chance to speak with the media since Summer Camp began. He wore a T-shirt that was a bit surprising for a player who was on the losing end of Washington’s title run.

The shirt reads “District of Champions,” a nod to D.C. winning titles in MLB, NHL and WNBA over the last three years. To his credit, Harris hasn’t shied away from talking about his performance in Game 7.

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“Look, I took the L in Game 7, that’s never gonna change,” Harris said on MLB Network in January. “But at the same time, I plan on winning my next Game 7 and I plan on winning more World Series, and I think Washington is a place I can do that.”

As if there was any doubt before, it appears that Harris has completely committed to his ballclub and D.C. as a sports town.

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Natasha Cloud rips WNBA's decision to decline Elena Delle Donne's opt-out request

Natasha Cloud rips WNBA's decision to decline Elena Delle Donne's opt-out request

Surprising news broke Monday evening when Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne's request to opt-out of the 2020 WNBA season was declined. The two-time WNBA MVP suffers from Lyme disease, but her condition was not on the CDC's list of underlying conditions that puts someone at additional risk for COVID-19. 

Delle Donne's teammate, Mystics guard Natasha Cloud, was also stunned by the league's decision. On Monday evening, Cloud posted an Instagram story in support of Delle Donne, asking the WNBA: "how do you deny someone with Lyme disease?"

Cloud doubled-down on Tuesday, taking to Twitter to express her dismay of the WNBA's decision.

"It’s bull----," Cloud wrote. "@WNBA either play or risk her life...what do we stand for? Cause apparently it’s not the players."

If the league doesn't reverse its ruling, Delle Donne must play the 2020 season to receive her full salary. In her statement Monday, she said she wants to play but her personal physician advises against it.

"I love my team, and we had an unbelievable season last year, and I want to play! But the question is whether or not the WNBA bubble is safe for me," Delle Donne said. "My personal physician who has treated me for Lyme disease for years advised me that I'm at high risk for contracting and having complications from COVID-19."

Cloud, who had a career season for Washington last year, has already decided to opt-out of the 2020 season in order to continue her commitment to raising awareness of social justice issues and the fight for racial equality. The guard signed an endorsement deal with Converse earlier this offseason, and the brand will pay her entire salary this season.

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