Redskins

Djokovic beats Murray for 3rd straight Aust. title

201301270507184758171-p2.jpeg

Djokovic beats Murray for 3rd straight Aust. title

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Novak Djokovic became the first man in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian titles when he beat Andy Murray 6-7 (2), 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-2 in Sunday's final.

Little wonder he loves Rod Laver Arena.

``It's definitely my favorite Grand Slam,'' he said. ``It's an incredible feeling winning this trophy once more. I love this court.''

Djokovic has won four of his six major titles at Melbourne Park, where he is now unbeaten in 21 matches.

Nine other men had won back-to-back titles in Australia over 45 years, but none were able to claim three in a row.

Only two other men, American Jack Crawford (1931-33) and Australian Roy Emerson (1963-67), have won three or more consecutive Australian championships.

Born a week apart in May 1987 and friends since their junior playing days, Djokovic and Murray played like they knew each other's game very well in a rematch of last year's U.S. Open final. There were no service breaks until the eighth game of the third set, when Djokovic finally broke through and then held at love to lead by two sets to one.

Djokovic earned two more service breaks in the fourth set, including one to take a 4-1 lead when U.S. Open champion Murray double-faulted on break point.

``It's been an incredible match as we could have expected,'' Djokovic said. ``When we play each other, it's always, we push each other to the limit and I think those two sets went over two hours, 15 minutes, physically I was just trying to hang in there. Play my game and focus on every point.''

The 25-year-old Serb didn't rip his shirt off this time, as he did to celebrate his epic 5-hour, 53-minute win over Rafael Nadal in last year's final. He just did a little dance, looked up to the sky and then applauded the crowd after the 3-hour, 40-minute match.

Murray's win over Djokovic in the U.S. Open final last year ended a 76-year drought for British men at the majors, but he still is yet to make a breakthrough in Australia after losing a third final here in the last four years.

Djokovic's win went against the odds of recent finals at Melbourne Park. In four of the past five years, the player who won the second of the semifinals has finished on top in the championship match. But this year, Djokovic played his semifinal on Thursday - an easy 89-minute minute win over No. 4-seeded David Ferrer. Murray needed five energy sapping sets to beat 17-time major winner Roger Federer on Friday night.

``You don't wake up the next day and feel perfect, obviously,'' Murray said of the Federer match. ``It's the longest match I played in six months probably. It obviously wasn't an issue today. I started the match well. I thought I moved pretty good throughout.''

The win consolidated Djokovic's position as the No. 1-ranked player in the world, while Federer and Murray will be second and third when the ATP rankings are released Monday.

Their last two matches in Grand Slams - Murray's five-set win at last year's U.S. Open and Djokovic's victory here last year in five in the semifinals - had a total of 35 service breaks.

It was a vastly different, more tactical battle on Sunday, with the first two tight sets decided in tiebreakers.

``All our matches in last three years have been decided in a very few points, so it's really hard to say if I've done anything different,'' Djokovic said. ``I tried to be more aggressive. So I went for my shots, especially in the third and fourth; came to the net quite often. I was quite successful in that percentage, so it worked well for me.''

Murray, who called for a trainer to retape blisters on his right foot at the end of the second set, was visibly annoyed by noise from the crowd during his service games in the third set, stopping his service motion twice until the crowd quieted down. After dropping the third set, he complained about the noise to chair umpire John Blom.

``It's just a bit sore when you're running around,'' Murray said. ``It's not like pulling a calf muscle or something. It just hurts when you run.''

Djokovic came from 0-40 down in the second game of the second set to hold his serve, something he called ``definitely one of the turning points.''

``He missed an easy backhand and I think mentally I just relaxed after that,'' Djokovic said. ``I just felt I'm starting to get into the rhythm that I wanted to. I was little more aggressive and started to dictate the play.''

Although Djokovic went into the match with a 10-7 lead in head-to-heads, Murray had beaten Djokovic five out of eight times in tiebreakers, and that improved to six of nine after four unforced errors by Djokovic to end the first set.

Djokovic pegged back that edge in the second set, when Murray also didn't help his cause by double-faulting to give Djokovic a 3-2 lead, and the Serbian player didn't trail again in the tiebreaker.

On the double-fault, Murray had to stop as he was about to serve to pick up a feather that had fallen on the court.

``I could have served, it just caught my eye before I served ... I thought it was a good idea to move it,'' he said.

``Maybe it wasn't because I obviously double faulted. At this level it can come down to just a few points here or there. My probably biggest chance was at the beginning of the second set; (I) didn't quite get it. When Novak had his chance at the end of the third, he got his.''

Djokovic will have little time to savor the win - he's playing Davis Cup for Serbia next weekend against Belgium.

``It's going to be a lot of fun ... to see how I can adjust to clay court in indoor conditions, playing away Davis Cup, which is always tricky,'' he said.

Andre Agassi was among those in the capacity crowd - the four-time Australian champion's first trip Down Under in nearly 10 years - and he later presented the trophy to Djokovic.

Victoria Azarenka, who won Saturday's women's singles final over Li Na, was also there with her boyfriend rapper Redfoo. Actor Kevin Spacey met in the dressing room with both players ahead of the match and later tweeted a photo of himself with them.

In the earlier mixed doubles final Sunday, wild-card entrants Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthew Ebden of Australia beat the Czech pair of Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak 6-3, 7-5.

Quick Links

49ers seal rainy victory over Redskins with slip-n-slide celebration

49ers seal rainy victory over Redskins with slip-n-slide celebration

After coming across the country and holding the Redskins scoreless, the 49ers celebrated their victory over Washington in the most appropriate way possible.

In a rain-fulfilled contest that featured poor field conditions, including multiple puddles throughout the playing surface at FedExField, several players on both sides slipped constantly on Sunday. 

On the last play of the game with a San Francisco victory just seconds away, 49ers rookie Nick Bosa sacked Redskins quarterback Case Keenum as the clock winded down. Bosa celebrated with a headfirst slide across the grass, fully embracing the poor field conditions that affected both sides all afternoon long.

But as soon as Bosa hit the turf, several of his 49ers teammates joined him in the act. All of a sudden, dozens of white jerseys were sliding across the wet grass, as the two teams began to commemorate postgame.

"It was a lot of fun. It was definitely worth it," 49ers defensive end Deforest Buckner said. "I saw Bosa out there sliding, so I said, 'Let's do it.' Everybody else started sliding around and everything. It was like a bunch of little kids out there. That's part of the game, having fun. Right now, we're having a lot of fun."

Even head coach Kyle Shanahan, who was likely happier about this victory than many others, considered joining in.

"I did think about it," Shanahan said. "But I don't think I would have done it right."

The head coach wasn't the only 49er to sit the celebration out.

"I spent plenty of time getting wet in the game," tight end George Kittle said. "I let other guys do [the celebration] for me."

"I saw those guys running and diving on the ground," cornerback Richard Sherman said. "I was like, I got out of this one healthy, so I'm just going to go. I'm just going to observe and then jog to the sideline, but it was fun. It was the 'Mud Bowl 2019 Champions.'"

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo also sat the celebration out, but not by choice.

"I missed the slide. I was upset about that," he said.

After holding the Redskins to zero points and just 154 total yards, the 49ers deserved to celebrate in any way they wanted. And they did just that.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Marcus Peters nabs pick-six off Russell Wilson in first game with Ravens

Marcus Peters nabs pick-six off Russell Wilson in first game with Ravens

The Ravens’ secondary was a big area of concern through the first six weeks of the season, as the team had allowed the eighth-most passing yards per game (269.5) in the NFL—and the loss of safety Tony Jefferson to a torn ACL only made the struggles all the more alarming.

So the Baltimore front office went out and traded for Rams cornerback Marcus Peters, shipping linebacker Kenny Young and a 2020 fifth-round pick to Los Angeles for the two-time Pro Bowler. He suited up for his first contest with the team in Week 7 against the Seahawks, and it only took two quarters for him to make a big impact on the game.

Peters returned Russell Wilson’s pass 67 yards to the house, putting Baltimore ahead in the road contest against one of the teams atop the NFC standings. The interception was his third of the season.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: