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Djokovic loses to Tomic in Hopman Cup

Djokovic loses to Tomic in Hopman Cup

PERTH, Australia (AP) Top-ranked Novak Djokovic lost to Australian Bernard Tomic 6-4, 6-4 at the Hopman Cup on Wednesday before Ana Ivanovic evened the Australia-Serbia tie by overwhelming teenager Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 6-3.

Barty made a positive start, but once Ivanovic made the first break to lead 4-2 she took almost total control to ensure the tie would be decided in the mixed doubles.

Tomic put Djokovic under pressure right from the start, holding five break points in the opening game. Djokovic survived that threat and held a break point of his own to lead 5-3 but netted a backhand. Tomic then broke serve in the next game with a crosscourt forehand winner and served out the set.

He kept up the pressure in the second set. He failed to convert a break point to lead 4-3, but won his sixth break point at 5-4 and then served for the match.

``I played a very, very good match and I'm just happy after the training the last few months, that it's all coming good and the training's paying off,'' Tomic said. ``Hard work does pay off. I'm still improving but I feel this today was a very good sign. I've got to continue playing like this.''

Playing in front of more than 13,000 in the sold-out arena, Tomic admitted to feeling nervous.

``Very difficult to play the first few games,'' he said. ``It's very hard playing against a player like Novak and come out relaxed. But I'm happy the way I came out. I was serving really good and the whole match was on my side because my serve was working really well.''

Djokovic was gracious in defeat.

``He played really well. He deserved to win,'' Djokovic said. ``I knew I was coming here to Australia really late and it still takes time for me to get used to it.

``But I'm not taking anything from his win. He played terrific. He's in great form. I was always on the back foot and he was the better player.''

Earlier, Italy came from behind to beat Germany 2-1.

Francesca Schiavone rallied to defeat Tatjana Malek 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and level the tie for Italy after Tommy Haas resisted a solid challenge and defeated Andreas Seppi 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7). Italy then won the doubles 6-4, 7-5.

On Thursday, the United States team of John Isner and Venus Williams plays the Spanish pairing of Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues for a place in Saturday's final. Australia also faces Italy.

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Brenden Dillon indicates he is open to re-signing with Capitals

Brenden Dillon indicates he is open to re-signing with Capitals

With a training camp in July, a delayed postseason, an abbreviated offseason, a flat salary cap all in the midst of a pandemic, the future is uncertain for pending unrestricted free agent defenseman Brenden Dillon. While not much is known right now, there is one thing he does know and that is that he really likes it in Washington.

"I'm happy with being a Washington Capital," Dillon said. "From Day 1 when I came here in the trade, they've made me feel right at home. I think the system, the way we play from the D-core on, I feel a big part of things here."

Dillon was with the San Jose Sharks since 2014 before he was traded. The reality that he would most likely be playing somewhere else in 2020-21 came to a head when the Sharks bottomed-out and sold him at the trade deadline to Washington. Now, his future is uncertain.

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At 29 years old, the next contract was likely going to be Dillon's last big one. He is on the last year of a five-year contract that carries a cap hit of $3.27 million per year. In a normal offseason, he likely would have sought another long-term deal with a raise. This, however, will not be a normal offseason and it is suddenly unclear what kind of money players will be able to get on the open market.

Dillon said he is trying not to concern himself with the uncertainty of free agency.

"I've had so much other things I've been worried about," he said. "Just the world in general and touching base with family and friends and everything."

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Dillon has played primarily on the top pair with John Carlson since he was brought in. Though the pandemic has limited him to just 10 games of action with the Caps, both sides seem to have left a favorable impression. When asked about his future, Dillon indicated he would be open to re-signing.

"The kind of mutual talks amongst my agent and [general manager Brian MacLellan], those things are confidential with them," Dillon said. "But for me as a player and being part of the Caps, it's been awesome and hopefully can be here."

Though he fits in nicely as a top-four defenseman, re-signing him would add another body into a logjam of left-shooting defensemen within the franchise.

Dmitry Orlov, Michal Kempny, Jonas Siegenthaler, Marin Fehervary and Alex Alexeyev are all left defensemen and all but Siegenthaler are under contract beyond this season. Siegenthaler is a restricted free agent who will almost certainly be re-signed. Re-signing Dillon exacerbates the issue, but top-four defensemen are hard to find and if a proven player like Dillon is interested in re-signing, that is hard to pass up if you can get the numbers to work.

The possibility of there being interest in Dillon returning to Washington beyond this season adds to the importance of the 2020 postseason. This may not just be a quest for the Cup, but an audition for those left defensemen to see who the team may want to keep for the future.

"For a lot of us going into this free agency, there's going to be a lot of questions from not just the players' side, but the team side and the planning that goes into these things," Dillon said. "That's above my pay grade and I'll kind of cross that bridge when I get there."

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Nationals' Yan Gomes hopes MLB umpires have their own section of the plane when flying with teams

Nationals' Yan Gomes hopes MLB umpires have their own section of the plane when flying with teams

With the start of the 2020 MLB season just nine days away, league officials are still considering a plethora of ideas for how to best ensure the safety of those involved in putting on games.

That includes the umpiring crews, who reportedly saw 11 umpires opt out of the season Tuesday in order to avoid the risk of contracting the coronavirus. According to Los Angeles Angels Joe Maddon, one of the measures MLB is considering is allowing umpires to fly with teams in order to limit the amount of travel and therefore possible exposure to the virus.

Nationals catcher Yan Gomes isn’t opposed to the idea, though he does recognize that there is some potential for a few awkward moments on the plane.

“I mean that could be a good thing from a safety standpoint and that could be a really weird and awkward deal if something happens in that game,” Gomes said. “I think we’re gonna have to be very cautious with that, putting them in one little section of the plane and hopefully not having to interact very much with players.

“That’s an interesting thing but if it’s something to keep everything safe from the game’s standpoint I think we can make that adjustment. I think everything [including] traveling and everything is going to be pretty unique this year and why not add umpires in there too?”

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Without any umpires at Nationals Park for the first few weeks of training camp, Gomes and fellow backstop Kurt Suzuki have had to act as the team’s umpires during intrasquad games.

“It’s been super tough so I think I respect them even more,” Gomes said. “From my angle, I’m over here trying to frame balls and then I tend to forget what pitch it was. I don’t know. I haven’t had too many people complain but I think I’ve done an OK job and I think Kurt is a little tighter than I think I am.

“The first day, I made some tough calls for our own pitching staff and I was like, ‘You know what? I’m gonna give it at least a couple balls for these guys because I don’t want—the rollover innings are probably the toughest thing.’”

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An umpire crew will be reporting to D.C. in advance of their first exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday. There’s going to be no way for catchers and umpires to avoid breaking social distancing guidelines when they stand in front of each other once games begin, but even so, Gomes isn’t worried about it.

“There’s really no concern level,” Gomes said. “Everyone here is doing a really good job on the testing and everything. It’s really just a matter of everyone staying safe and not do those silly, try-to-joke-around touches. I think we’re just going to have to be careful with that.”

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