Nationals

Djokovic, Ivanovic lead Serbia over Italy

Djokovic, Ivanovic lead Serbia over Italy

PERTH, Australia (AP) Novak Djokovic shook off jetlag to beat Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4 on Monday to help Serbia beat Italy 2-1 at the Hopman Cup then avoided injury after the match when a courtside barrier collapsed while signing autographs.

Djokovic was signing autographs when the divider fell. It hit the Serb on his legs as it crashed and several fans went tumbling to the ground. Djokovic briefly squatted in discomfort but later took to the court for the mixed doubles, won by Italy 7-6 (4), 6-4.

``It was a bit of a shock and I'm glad that the children involved are OK. I am fine,'' said Djokovic, who was more concerned about his condition pre-match because of fatigue from jetlag.

Djokovic arrived in Perth less than 24 hours before he stepped on court, but still had a straight-sets win to add to Ana Ivanovic's 6-0, 6-4 victory over Francesca Schiavone, giving Serbia a win in the group-stage of the mixed teams event.

``I arrived quite late last night and didn't get long hours of sleep and felt this morning like I'm dream-walking,'' Djokovic said. ``But as the match went on I was managing to get my rhythm. I broke the ice after the first set and felt a little bit better.''

Djokovic got off to a good starting jumping out 2-0, but he later struggled to hold for 5-2. In the second set a double-fault gave Djokovic a break to lead 3-2, but he again struggled to maintain his lead and had to fight off four break points at 4-3 before completing his victory.

Earlier, Ivanovic faced the challenge of two break points in the opening game and it took her five break points to establish a 2-0 lead, but then she looked aggressive and confident as she swept through the remainder of the first set.

Schiavone took 36 minutes to win her first game and hold for 1-1 in the second set, and the Italian then offered a stronger challenge.

``It's been an amazing start (to the season),'' Ivanovic said. ``That first game was a bit crucial but I managed to hold after saving a few break points and then I really got into the momentum and didn't do too much wrong in that first set.

``The second set got tougher. She started playing better, Ivanovic added. ``I still tried to be aggressive and I'm really happy I managed to win today.''

On Tuesday, The American team of John Isner and Venus Williams will take on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mathilde Johansson of France.

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Ryan Zimmerman’s return to the Nationals is finally happening

Ryan Zimmerman’s return to the Nationals is finally happening

If Ryan Zimmerman did not return to the Nationals, he at least would have a future teaching how not to negotiate.

Zimmerman openly drove down his bargaining leverage for almost a year before signing a one-year deal on Friday to return to the only professional team he’s known, a source confirmed. The deal is reported at $2 million.

Throughout the season, Zimmerman openly discussed his interest in returning and understanding it would be at a low rate. As if his stance wasn’t already clear, Zimmerman explained at a screening of the Nationals’ championship video he would return or play more golf.

“So, we’ll be good to go,” Zimmerman said.

It’s baseball for now. Zimmerman rejoins the defending World Series champions to play his 16th season. He’s a 35-year-old platoon player this season. Zimmerman’s money and legacy have been established. He’s back in the fold to pursue another title. 

And he makes an already old Nationals team older. Zimmerman turns 36 years old the day after the 2020 regular season ends. Howie Kendrick will be 37 years old by midseason. Asdrúbal Cabrera is 34 years old. Eric Thames is 33 years old. Will Harris is 35, Daniel Hudson 32, Sean Doolittle 33, Max Scherzer 35, Kurt Suzuki 36. Yan Gomes will be 33 just after the All-Star break. 

Zimmerman will share first base with Thames and, occasionally, Howie Kendrick. They provide an intriguing splits-based platoon. Thames hits right-handers well -- 23 of his 25 2019 home runs came against them, as did much of his opportunity in Milwaukee -- and Zimmerman has a .917 career OPS against left-handed pitchers. Zimmerman is the much better defender.

He’s back because he -- and the Nationals -- believe Zimmerman’s production remains directly tied to his health. His September and postseason work showed Zimmerman’s bat speed remains intact. He is quietly one of the better defensive first baseman in the league. They think they can protect him. Overall, the Nationals are so comfortable with an expanse of older players because they plan to shield them with limited usage. Also, Josh Donaldson went to Minnesota, clearing the cash and providing a need for Zimmerman. 

Kendrick, Cabrera and Starlin Castro can play various infield spots. Thames and Zimmerman will reduce the other’s role, as well as pinch-hit when not starting. Davey Martinez has options. He also has the challenge of rotating players. One thing on his side: older players know they are just that. Grousing about playing time should not be an issue with the group, the majority of which played as role players last year on the way to a World Series title. 

One other thing to note about Zimmerman: he’s 30 home runs short of 300. Can he get there with another two years on the field? He has at least one more to add to his total, assuring his driver has another lonely summer.

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Alex Ovechkin named to NHL's All-Decade first team for 2010-19

Alex Ovechkin named to NHL's All-Decade first team for 2010-19

Alex Ovechkin once again was named to one of the NHL's All-Decade teams.

This go-around, Ovechkin was named to the first-team for the All-Decade Team spanning 2010-2019. 

During those 10 seasons, there was no one that totaled more than Ovi's 437 goals. Only two others had more than his 730 points.

Through our eyes, we saw him mature from a unique superstar to a once-in-a-generation athlete. Ovechkin won his first Stanley Cup in the decade after years of heartbreak and dominant Capitals teams that could never escape the second round. 

Now, he's a mere eight goals away from reaching 700 and further etching his name in the fabric of the sport. 

He is joined with fellow forward Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks. Sidney Crosby of the Penguins, Drew Doughty of the Kings and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Golden Knights rounded out the six-player first team. 

NHL ALL-DECADE FIRST TEAM

Alex Ovechkin - F - Capitals
Patrick Kane - F - Blackhawks
Sidney Crosby - C - Penguins
Duncan Keith - D - Blackhawks
Drew Doughty - D - Kings
Marc-Andre Fleury - G- Golden Knights

NHL ALL-DECADE SECOND TEAM

Evgeni Malkin - F - Penguins
Patrice Bergeron - F - Bruins
Steven Stamkos - F - Lightning
Erik Karlsson - D - Sharks
Zdeno Chara - D - Bruins
Henrik Lundqvist - G - Rangers

The Great 8 was also named to the All-Decade team in 2000-10. Only Zdeno Chara and Sidney Crosby, named to the second team for the last decade, received the recognition last decade as well. 

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