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Japan's Date-Krumm sets record at Australian Open

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Japan's Date-Krumm sets record at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Now that she's 42, Kimiko Date-Krumm is older than some of her opponent's parents.

Her memory is starting to get fuzzy, too. She can't remember whom she played when she last won a match at the Australian Open - but she remembers it was way back in 1996.

On Tuesday, the Japanese veteran became the oldest woman to win a singles match at Melbourne Park when she beat No. 12 Nadia Petrova 6-2, 6-0 in the first round.

After the match, she fielded a variety of questions about her secret to longevity in a sport filled with women half her age.

``Some players' mothers are younger than me,'' she laughed. ``So it's like (they're) my daughter.''

Her advice to keeping fit: ``I sleep a lot. I eat healthy foods. I drink a lot,'' she said. Bedtime is usually before 10. ``It's a simple life, that's it. Nothing special.''

The mindset that comes with her advanced age has helped her, she said, as did a long period of absence from the sport.

Date-Krumm, who is married to German race car driver Michael Krumm, took a 12-year break from tennis and returned in 2008.

``After I stopped playing tennis in 1996, I never thought I would come back on the tour. But I love sports. I love tennis,'' said Date-Krumm, who is ranked No. 100. She has won eight tour titles and more than $3 million dollars in prize money in her career.

She said she feels less stress about playing now that she's older and is better equipped to manage all the attention. An increase of Asian athletes into international sports - baseball, golf and now tennis - has also helped her feel less pressure.

Since her comeback, she has failed to advance beyond the second round of a Grand Slam. But she has amassed a number of ``oldest player'' records. Among them: At 39, during the 2010 French Open, she became the oldest player to beat a Top 10 player. She then beat her own record later that year in Osaka after turning 40.

``I'm very happy to win today, but I don't play for the records,'' she said. ``I'm playing for fun.''

Every year, she says, she's asked when she'll retire, but she doesn't have an answer yet.

Will she still be playing into her 50s like Martina Navratilova did?

``I don't think so, no,'' she laughed.

Navratilova holds the record for the oldest woman to win a singles match at a Grand Slam, which came at Wimbledon in 2004 when she was 47 years, eight months.

Date-Krumm's best result at the Australian Open came in 1994 when she reached the semifinals. She achieved a career-high ranking of No. 4 in 1995.

She made her Grand Slam debut at the French Open in 1989 when Petrova was just 6 years old.

On Tuesday, Date-Krumm cruised through her match against 30-year-old Petrova in 64 minutes. She made 75 percent of her first serves, while Petrova stumbled with 38 unforced errors.

``She's a tough cookie,'' said Petrova, a 2010 quarterfinalist at Melbourne Park. ``She played really well today. She didn't give me any room to come back.''

Petrova agreed that a vacation from the sport that requires rigorous travel around the world could be a good thing.

``She took a 10-year break,'' Petrova said, ``so you know she might be fresher than most of us in our 30s.''

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Capitals have been their own worst enemy, and they were again on Friday

Capitals have been their own worst enemy, and they were again on Friday

The Capitals managed to earn a point on Friday in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, but the game felt like a missed opportunity for Washington. After giving up four goals in the first period, seven power plays including two 5-on-3s, and two power play goals, the Caps knew they had no one to blame but themselves for the loss.

“We were still not quite there maybe emotionally,” Lars Eller said.

At least not for the first period. The Caps allowed four goals in the opening 20 minutes to dig themselves into a 4-1 hole. Each goal came from the slot as the Caps had no control over the front of their own net.

“Just tough to start that way, to kind of dig ourselves a big hole,” Brett Connolly said. “Obviously, it’s good to come back and get a point but we don’t need to do that to ourselves. It takes a lot of energy to get back in that game.”

Washington battled back to tie the game at 4, but penalties ultimately derailed their momentum, allowing Florida to retake the lead.

After scoring three straight goals, the Caps took three minor penalties in the final three minutes of the second period.

Alex Ovechkin was called for interference on Aaron Ekblad as he made no attempt to play a loose puck that trickled past the Florida defenseman. He was clearly focused on delivering the hit and nothing else.

Less than a minute later, Eller was caught on the ice a tad early, and Washington was called for too many men.

“I see Backy coming for a change, they had full possession,” Eller said. “I don't see behind my back, I think the guys are telling me he has one skate over so I think it was an unnecessary call, but what am I going to say? It's a tough one.”

With 1:15 of a two-man advantage to work with, Jonathan Huberdeau scored the go-ahead goal late in the period.

Even after a furious comeback, the Caps could not escape the second with the score tied because of the penalties.

Just 43 seconds after Huberdeau’s goal, Washington went right back to 5-on-3. Evgeny Kuznetsov was tossed from a faceoff by the linesman and argued the call, eventually earning himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“He said something he shouldn't have said to the referee,” Reirden said of the call.

The Caps' penalty problems were exacerbated by the continued problems of the penalty kill.

Heading into Friday's game, Washington was only killing off 72.2 percent of the power plays they faced. They allowed another two power play goals Friday as they continued to struggle when facing the extra man.

“We have room for improvement for sure,” Reirden said of his penalty kill. “It’s a new system, new with the way we’re killing, its new personnel. We’re learning. We’re missing a key guy in Tom on that as well. It’s not easy, either, when you’re 5-on-3 when they’ve got talented players that can convert in that spot. It’s definitely a work in progress and I didn't expect it to go smoothly to start with. That’s one of the areas that we knew was gonna be new to our team this year and it’s gonna continue to take some work. It’s something that definitely is a work in progress.”

Mistakes put the Caps down 4-1, they put them down 5-4, they cost them a valuable point against a previously winless Panthers team before a four-game road trip through Canada, and they are ultimately why the defending Stanley Cup champions are only 3-2-2 to start the season.

And they know it.

“We’re still trying to find our game,” Connolly said. “Would we have liked to have picked up where we left off? Yes. But it’s not easy. We played a lot of hockey last year and a short summer and you come in here and there’s a lot of distractions, a lot of that kind of stuff. We’ve done some good things and we’ve done some not so good things.

"I think if you look at last season we weren't very good either at the start. We weren't at our best. Just take the positives and know that we can overcome that. It hasn’t been disastrous. We’re still getting points, we’re still above .500 right now with a tough couple back-to-backs to start the year. So not the worst start, but obviously we have another level.”

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Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

The Florida Panthers played over half of Friday’s game with five defensemen after a hit from Alex Ovechkin ultimately knocked Mark Pysyk out of the game.

Early in the second period, Ovechkin attempted to enter the offensive zone with the puck, but it was swept away at the blue line back to Pysyk. Pysyk quickly chipped the puck away and then was on the receiving end of a hit from Ovechkin.

In real time, the hit did not appear to be a big one. It wasn't even the biggest hit Ovechkin delivered in the game, as in the third period he sent Aleksander Barkov flying with a shoulder hit. But Pysyk went down to the ice after the hit and left the game soon after.

After the game, Florida head coach Bob Boughner did not mince words.

“Pysyk got a high hit to the head,” he said.

When asked if he thought the league should review the hit, Boughner said, “I hope they do because if you see the replay, it's high. It's a head shot. And the league's trying to clamp down on that. Whether there's no call, I don't blame the refs. Maybe they missed it. That happens. But those are the kind of plays that need to be reviewed.”

Based on the replay, it is hard to determine if the principal point of contact was the head. Ovechkin does not launch himself, but does appear to take an upward trajectory into Pysyk. Still, it seems like a hard sell to say Ovechkin was targeting the head.

But the hit did send Pysyk out of the game, and in today’s NHL, when head hits are a big topic of conversation and when a player is injured on a play, the NHL has shown it takes those plays more seriously.

Pysyk returned to the game for one more shift after receiving the hit, but left the game after and did not return.

“Right now we're still getting him checked out, but we'll see more in the morning,” Boughner said.

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