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Ferrer plays Stepanek to open Davis Cup final

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Ferrer plays Stepanek to open Davis Cup final

PRAGUE (AP) The last time the Czechs played Spain in the Davis Cup final, they were swept 5-0 on clay in Barcelona.

Three years later, the Czech Republic will play at home on a fast indoor hard court. Plus, Spain will play without injured star Rafael Nadal.

The Czechs hope to win their first Davis Cup title as an independent nation since the 1993 split of Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia won its only title in 1980, when Ivan Lendl led the team to victory.

Defending champion Spain is looking for its fourth title in five years.

``So far, it's the biggest moment of my career,'' sixth-ranked Czech star Tomas Berdych said. ``It is our goal to bring the trophy back (home) after so many years.''

The 100th Davis Cup final starts Friday with Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic playing David Ferrer in the opening singles of the best-of-five series. Berdych will face Nicolas Almagro in the second singles match in the O2 Arena in Prague.

Ivo Minar and Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic were selected to play Saturday's doubles against Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, who won the ATP World Tour Finals title in London on Monday.

But captain Jaroslav Navratil is expected to bring in Berdych and Stepanek, who are 11-1 in Davis Cup doubles.

In Sunday's reverse singles, Berdych is scheduled to face Ferrer and Stepanek will play Almagro.

The Czechs are seeking to complete a rare double just two weeks after the women secured the Fed Cup title at the same arena. No country has won both competitions in the same year since the United States in 1990.

The fifth-ranked Ferrer is wrapping up the best season, which includes a tour-best seven tournament titles.

``When I play him (Stepanek), it's always a very close match,'' Ferrer said after the draw on Thursday.

Ferrer has a career 6-3 record against Stepanek and beat him in five sets when the two teams met in the Davis Cup final three years ago.

``I remember the final in 2009. It was an amazing match,'' Ferrer said. ``This time, it's going to be a similar match on a different surface. But I have to play my best tennis to beat him.''

Spain hasn't lost on clay in 12 years, but the hard court plays to the Czech players' strengths.

``I'll try to use the surface to play my aggressive tennis,'' said the 37th-ranked Stepanek. ``Ferrer is known to be a big fighter, but anyone can be beaten.''

Berdych is 4-1 against the 11th-ranked Almagro this year.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler