Ferrer beats Almagro at Valencia, makes semifinals

Ferrer beats Almagro at Valencia, makes semifinals

VALENCIA, Spain (AP) David Ferrer beat Spanish Davis Cup teammate Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 7-5 on Friday to reach the semifinals of the Valencia Open.

Ferrer next plays qualifier Ivan Dodig, who defeated fellow Croatian Marin Cilic 6-2, 7-6 (6). Jurgen Melzer, who has not dropped a set in the tournament, and Alexandr Dolgopolov won and will meet in the semifinals.

The fifth-ranked Ferrer had little trouble on the hard indoor surface. He improved to 12-0 against an opponent who will become his teammate next month when Spain defends its Davis Cup title against the Czech Republic .

Ferrer has won the Valencia title twice and has never lost to Almagro. They played four times this season.

``It was my best game of the week,'' Ferrer said. ``Today I knew had to play at my best level or I wouldn't win.''

Almagro had a triple-break chance in the sixth game of the second set, but Ferrer held before breaking in the 11th game. Ferrer saved his fourth break point in the final game and won when Almagro hit long.

Melzer beat David Goffin of Belgium 7-6 (7), 6-4. The Austrian overcame a poor first serve, including seven double-faults.

Dolgopolov defeated defending champion Marcel Granollers 6-0, 6-2. The Ukrainian was perfect on his first serve in the first set.

``It was for sure easier than expected. He was frustrated and he wasn't playing his best tennis,'' said the 21st-ranked Dolgopolov, who broke the Spaniard five times.

``I had no chance of coming back,'' Granollers said.

Granollers reached the last two finals in Valencia and is expected to lead Spain's doubles team in Prague.

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 


— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap


Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line


Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.


PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.