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Kerber gets a birthday wish, advances in Australia

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Kerber gets a birthday wish, advances in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Angelique Kerber survived some nervous moments before fending off American teenager Madison Keys in the third round of the Australian Open, then got to blow out the candles on a cake to celebrate her 25th birthday.

Fifth-seeded Kerber won 6-2, 7-5 on Friday to move into the fourth round, further than she's ever gone in six trips to the Australian Open.

Local organizers brought Kerber a cake onto court immediately after the match and the crowd at Rod Laver Arena sang ``Happy Birthday.'' She blew out the candles and said thank you.

``Madison is a great young player and it was very tough,'' said Kerber, a semifinalist last year at Wimbledon. ``So happy I won today on my birthday!''

The 17-year-old Keys was playing in the main draw for only the second time at the Australia Open.

Fourth-seeded Angieszka Radwanska, meanwhile, won her 12th match in a row with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Britain's Heather Watson on the second of the show courts at Melbourne Park.

Radwanska won tournaments in Auckland and Sydney before coming to Melbourne.

``I'm extremely happy to be playing my best tennis from the beginning of the year,'' Radwanska said. ``Hopefully I'll play on the same level the rest of the tournament.''

After soaring to 106 degrees on day four, the temperature dropped into the mid-70s on Friday, and light rain briefly interrupted play on some courts.

Roger Federer has won four Australian Open titles among his 17 majors, and is ordinarily one of the most popular athletes in Australia.

The only problem is this: His 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Nikolay Davydenko on Thursday night set Federer on course for a third-round match against Bernard Tomic, the last remaining Australian in the men's or women's draws.

The 20-year-old Tomic beat German qualifier Daniel Brands 6-7 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (8) in the last afternoon match on the center court at Melbourne Park, keeping his cool on a long, searing day.

Federer praised Tomic's play for the crowd, and later said he won't mind for whom or how loud fans are cheering Saturday.

``I don't think it matters whether he's the last Australian or 10 more,'' Federer said. ``There's always excitement about Aussies playing here. I played him here last year. The crowd was great. I expect something similar. If it's not, if it's totally for him, that's fine, too. I'm always excited when the crowd gets into it.''

Federer has added a few flashes of color for the year's opening Grand Slam event - neon pink shoelaces and trim on the back of his shoes, on the V-neck of his shirt and the swoosh on his black headband. This is quite a departure from the Swiss star's usual hues and from the bright yellow that seems the predominant shade of choice for player clothes and accessories at this tournament.

``I like to play around with colors,'' he explained. ``Fresh start to a new year. I wore a pink shirt a few years back. It was a best seller, so ....''

The day-time temperature got progressively hotter until late afternoon, meaning top-ranked Victoria Azarenka had it slightly easier in her second-round match - a 6-1, 6-0 win over Eleni Daniilidou, Greece - than third-ranked Serena Williams did in the very next match on Rod Laver Arena, a 6-2, 6-0 win over Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

There was concern after she hurt her right ankle Tuesday that an injury might ruin Williams' run at a third consecutive major title. She said the ankle didn't bother her as much on Thursday as a split lip, which she did by accidently hitting herself in the face with the racket in the sixth game.

``It's OK,'' she said. ``It's a war wound.''

``I have never busted it wide open like that,'' she added, ``I was like, `Oh, no. I can't have a tooth fall out.' That would be horrible.''

She next plays Ayumi Morita, one of two Japanese women already in the third round. The other, 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm, downed Shahar Peer of Israel 6-2, 7-5.

Other women advancing included former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, No. 14 Maria Kirilenko, No. 16 Roberta Vinci, No. 20 Yanina Wickmayer and Elena Vesnina, who beat No. 21-seeded Varvara Lepchenko of the United States 6-4, 6-2.

After her singles match, Williams attempted to show there was no serious damage to her ankle by combining with sister Venus in a first-round doubles win later in the afternoon.

That was good preparation for Venus' third-round match against No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova, one of the highlights of Friday's schedule. Novak Djokovic resumes his bid for a third consecutive Australian Open title when he takes on Radek Stepanek in the third round in the afternoon. No. 4 David Ferrer plays Marcos Baghdatis in the last match in what should be another late finish.

British teenager Laura Robson ensured that the Day Four program ran into Day Five when she rallied to oust No. 8-seeded Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, 2-6, 6-3, 11-9. After coming from a break down in the third set, she missed a chance to serve out the match at 6-5. She made no mistake the second time, in the early hours of Friday.

Robson, who combined with Andy Murray to win an Olympic silver medal in the mixed doubles, will next play 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens, who beat Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-4, 6-3.

Murray, who won the Olympic gold medal in singles and then went on to break a long British drought for British men by winning the U.S. Open, beat Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 to advance to the third round in Australia.

Among the other men advancing were 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, 2008 Australian finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet, No. 13 Milos Raonic of Canada, No. 17 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany and No. 21 Andreas Seppi of Italy.

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Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

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Associated Press

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp

Even though it was a bright, warm Wednesday in Ashburn the Redskins held their OTA session in the practice bubble because recent rains have left their outdoor fields to soggy to use. Here are my observations from the practice:

—A few Redskins were not present and a few who were there were not participating in the drills. Jay Gruden said that OT Trent Williams is rehabbing in Texas and that LB Zach Brown is in the process of relocating to the Washington area. RB Chris Thompson and OT Morgan Moses were present, but both were spectators. 

— It should be noted that even though Moses didn’t practice and is still rehabbing after ankle surgery, he still participated in the sideline-to-sideline running the team does at the end of practice.

—At rookie camp, RB Derrius Guice was first in line to do every drill. Today, he gave way to the veterans to all take their reps and then he went first among the rookies. 

— “Fat Rob” Kelley never really was fat but he is now lean and mean. He also seems to be a half step quicker than he was in the past. Added competition in the form of second- and fourth-round picks being added at your position will do that to a player. 

—The “starting” offensive line from left to right was Geron Christian, Shawn Lauvao, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, and John Kling. The interior could well start the season; the tackle position awaits the returns of Williams, Scherff, and Ty Nsekhe. 

—RB Byron Marshall, who was on the team briefly last year before getting injured, looked very quick with good acceleration.

—CB Josh Norman was back with the group fielding punts. I seriously doubt that he will handle any kicks in games, even preseason games, but perhaps with DeAngelo Hall being gone he wants to be available as an emergency option. Also back with the punt returners were CB Danny Johnson, CB Greg Stroman, WR Maurice Harris, WR De’Mornay Pierson-El, and, of course, WR Jamison Crowder.

—S D.J. Swearinger spent most of the special teams practice on the sideline working on catching passes with his hands extended away from his body. A little while later, he had a chance to make an interception with his arms extended. Of course, he dropped it. 

—It seems like QB Alex Smith and Crowder have some good rapport built already. Once on the right sideline and a few minutes later on the left, Smith threw a well-placed ball into Crowder, who was well covered on both occasions. 

—Eventually, CB Orlando Scandrick caught on and he swatted down a quick out to Crowder. 

—With Brown out, Josh Harvey-Clemons was with the first unit at inside linebacker. He’s still skinny but less so than he was last year. The second-year player was impressive in coverage, staying with Crowder step for step on a deep pass down the middle.

—The play of the day was a deep pass down the right side from Smith to WR Paul Richardson. Stroman was with the receiver step for step on the 9 route but Smith laid the ball out perfectly and Richardson made a lunging catch. Even though it doesn’t have to under the new rule, the catch did survive the ground. 

—WR Cam Sims had a few impressive plays. On one, QB Colt McCoy lofted one high in the air down the right side. Sims kept his focus on the ball while two defenders lost it and made the catch. 

—WR Trey Quinn had his moments. He made a good grab while being bumped by Scandrick. But a while later he dropped a fairly easy one. 

—The running backs all looked good but Guice looked the best of all of them. He had an ability to cut and maintain his speed that not many have. With the warning that they were playing with no pads with no contact and not at full speed, Guice’s vision appeared to be outstanding. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

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 @TandlerNBCS.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.