Wizards

Former No. 1 Wozniacki out in 4th round

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Former No. 1 Wozniacki out in 4th round

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) After twice failing to win her breakthrough major as the No. 1-ranked woman at the Australian Open, Caroline Wozniacki is now expected to drop out of the top 10 after a fourth-round loss to a resurgent Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday.

Wozniacki had the top ranking for the 2011 and 2012 editions of the season's first major, but lost in semifinals two years ago and the quarterfinals last year. Her 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 defeat to two-time Grand Slam winner Kuznetsova in the Round of 16 this time follows back-to-back first-round exits at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

Kuznetsova is moving in the other direction, after entering the tournament at No. 75. She's on a comeback from a right knee injury that ruled her out of the last U.S. Open, ending a run of contesting 40 consecutive majors.

The 27-year-old Russian moved into a quarterfinal and will next face either No. 1-ranked Victoria Azarenka or Elena Vesnina.

Play on Day 7 ran into Day 8 overnight, when Novak Djokovic needed just over 5 hours to beat Stanislas Wawrinka 1-6, 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 12-10 in a fourth-round match Sunday night, on the same court where he needed 5:53 to beat Rafael Nadal in last year's final.

``I just had flashback of 2012,'' said Djokovic, who ripped off his shirt to celebrate again, like he did last year. ``It was maybe 45 minutes less this match than the one 12 months ago, but still it was still as exciting. I tried to enjoy the moment and couldn't ask for more. What a match point ... unbelievable.''

The win was Djokovic's 18th in a row at Melbourne Park after winning the last two Australian titles, and earned him a place in the quarterfinals of a 15th consecutive major.

Wawrinka said he would take more positives than negatives out of the match. He led 5-2 in the second set after outplaying Djokovic in the first.

``For sure, I think the best match I have ever played,'' Wawrinka said. ``I fought like a dog like always. At 4-4 in the final set, I thought I might have won the match, but he was just better.''

Djokovic will next play No. 5 Tomas Berdych, who beat South Africa's Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (13).

Fourth-seeded David Ferrer advanced 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 over No. 16 Kei Nishikori of Japan to set up a quarterfinal against fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.

Roger Federer plays Milos Raonic later Monday, and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray faces Gilles Simon.

Serena Williams, aiming for a third consecutive major title, will play her fourth-round match against No. 14 Maria Kirilenko of Russia.

They will have a tough time matching the spectacle of Sunday's late-night encounter, which also overshadowed Maria Sharapova's accomplishment.

The reigning French Open champion advanced to the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-0 win over Kirsten Flipkens, and has lost just five games through four rounds. That's three fewer than the previous low mark at the Australian Open, held by Steffi Graf and Monica Seles.

She next plays fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, who beat fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-4. Sharapova defeated Makarova in the quarterfinals here last year on her way to the final, which she lost in straight sets to Victoria Azarenka.

Li Na, who reached the final here in 2011 and won the French Open later that year, saved a set point in the tiebreaker before beating Julia Goerges 7-6 (6), 6-1. She'll play No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat No. 13 Ana Ivanovic 6-2, 6-4 for her 13th consecutive win.

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Don't expect Bradley Beal to request a trade from the Wizards

Don't expect Bradley Beal to request a trade from the Wizards

Bradley Beal made headlines on Friday afternoon when he said in an All-Star Q&A that he wants to stay with the Wizards for many years to come, that he hopes to “retire in this jersey” and that he is “all about loyalty.” 

That suggested he will not become the next NBA star to request a trade. But the topic of a trade request was never actually discussed.

So, a few hours later, NBC Sports Washington caught up with Beal for a 1-on-1 interview at the All-Star Celebrity Game to expand on those thoughts.

Beal explained in detail why he has no plans to ask the Wizards for a trade, and how he doesn’t envision a scenario where that could happen.

“I mean, look where that’s gotten a lot of guys now. It doesn’t always play out in your favor,” he told NBC Sports Washington.

“So, I’m thinking like what good could that bring me? In my head, that’s just more turmoil for the team. It’s another distraction."

Beal, 25, has two years left on his contract with the Wizards. He is due $27.1 million next season and $28.8 million for the 2020-21 campaign.

Beal was picked third overall by the Wizards in the 2012 NBA Draft. He has since developed into a two-time All-Star and has helped lead the Wizards to the playoffs four times in the past five years.

This season, however, things have gone south for the team. John Wall was lost for the year due to a torn Achilles and Dwight Howard has appeared in only nine games due to back surgery. 

The Wizards have made five trades since training camp, including ones to ship mainstays Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris out of the organization.

They are currently 10 games under .500 at the All-Star break, which has put the spotlight on Beal’s future. The formula for a blockbuster trade usually includes a star on a losing team, and Beal fits the bill.

Beal, though, can already imagine the drawbacks of requesting a trade. He sees the mess that Anthony Davis and the Pelicans are dealing with in New Orleans and doesn't want that for himself.

"I always feel like if I requested a trade, and I didn’t get traded, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna be able to go and play with my teammates who know I don’t want to be here. That’s mind-boggling to me," he said.

People change their minds, and Beal very well could. But he insists he has no thoughts of leaving the Wizards and says the speculation can effectively end.

“Until the team doesn’t want me anymore, I’m gonna be here,” he said. “I’m here. I’m a Wizard, day in and day out. They pay me and I have to show up and do my work. Until that changes, that’s who I’m loyal to.”

 

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Bryce Harper slid in to Rhys Hoskins' latest Instagram and we're kinda worried

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Rhys Hoskins / Instagram

Bryce Harper slid in to Rhys Hoskins' latest Instagram and we're kinda worried

No one knows when Bryce Harper will sign a contract – perhaps not even Harper himself – but he is fueling speculation every chance he gets.

 

The Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins posted a picture from the team’s spring training site in Clearwater, Florida.

 

View this post on Instagram

missed this walk to work🌴

A post shared by Rhys Hoskins (@rhystothehoskins) on

 

This itself is not newsworthy. Plenty of players have posted pictures of their arrivals at spring training. Scroll through the comments, however, and you will notice that Harper commented “Suhhhhh kiiiiiiid.” This comes one day after Hoskins commented on a Valentine’s Day post by Harper dedicated to his wife, Kayla.

 

View this post on Instagram

My Funny Valentine!😂🥰 #Greys

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on

 

The Phillies are among the teams rumored to be potential suitors for the 2015 NL MVP. Does this mean Harper is going to sign with one of the Nationals’ biggest rivals and remain in the NL East? No idea. But Harper is doing a good job of holding onto everyone’s attention while he remains undecided.

 

This is not the first time Harper has fueled speculation via social media.

 

Hoskins posted this picture on Instagram back in December, with the caption “loading…”

 

View this post on Instagram

loading...🔋

A post shared by Rhys Hoskins (@rhystothehoskins) on

 

On Super Bowl Sunday, Harper tweeted this:

 

 

This week, Harper unfollowed a number of Washington Capitals on Twitter, according to Caps winger Tom Wilson:

 

 

In January, MLB The Show’s twitter account posted a series of simulations showcasing how some team’s seasons might look with Harper in the fold. He quoted some of those tweets with some cryptic emojis:

 

 

That same account also tweeted “You'll want to keep an eye on this account tomorrow... just saying,” back on January 28th.

 

 

This fueled speculation that the video game’s cover would be released the next day and Harper, as the cover athlete, would reveal his destination by appearing on the cover in his new team’s uniform. The cover was released, but it featured Harper in a plain white hoodie.

 

For now, Harper watch continues. As a matter of fact, you should go ahead and refresh your Twitter and Instagram feeds – odds are he posted another cryptic tweet or comment while you were reading this.

 

 

 

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