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Murray edges Federer, reaches Australian final

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Murray edges Federer, reaches Australian final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Andy Murray has finally beaten Roger Federer at a Grand Slam.

The U.S. Open champion beat 17-time major winner Federer 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 Friday at the Australian Open, calling it a massive confidence boost as he attempts to win his second consecutive major.

Murray, who missed his chance to serve out the match at 6-5 in the fourth set, will play defending champion and top-seeded Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final. Djokovic cruised past David Ferrer in straight sets in just under 90 minutes - 2 1/2 hours less than Murray's semifinal.

Advantage Djokovic.

There was some controversy in that 12th game of the fourth set when Federer appeared to glare and say something to Murray when the Scotsman stopped momentarily behind the baseline during the rally.

Murray ignored it after winning the point, but conceded serve in that game and lost the ensuing tiebreaker before regrouping in the fifth set.

``I mean, it wasn't a big deal,'' Federer said. ``We just looked at each other one time. That's OK, I think. We were just checking each other out for bit. That wasn't a big deal for me - I hope not for him.''

While Murray came into the match with a 10-9 career advantage, Murray had never beaten Federer in their three previous meetings at a major - the finals of the 2008 U.S. Open, 2010 Australian Open and last year at Wimbledon.

``It's always tough against him, when he plays in Slams is when he plays his best tennis,'' Murray said. ``When his back was against the wall at 6-5 and I was serving, he came up with some unbelievable shots. I just had to keep fighting.''

On Saturday, defending champion Victoria Azarenka will play Li Na of China for the women's singles title. Azaranka needs to win to retain her No. 1 ranking or it will go to Serena Williams.

Also, American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan will play their fifth consecutive Australian Open doubles final and attempt to win a record 13th Grand Slam doubles championship. They'll play the Dutch pair of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling.

Federer outplayed Murray at stages of the match, but the 25-year-old Scotsman appeared to have the legs and stamina over the 31-year-old Federer in the fifth set, including a service break to clinch the tense match.

``It's big. I never beat Roger in a Slam before. It definitely will help with the confidence,'' Murray said. ``Just knowing you can win against those guys in big matches definitely helps.''

Federer said he was playing catch-up all night.

``Definitely it was more of a chase,'' Federer said. ``I think I had my chances a little bit. Obviously, you're going to go through a five-setter with some regrets. But overall, I think Andy was a bit better than I was tonight.''

Murray refused to elaborate on the details of the exchange in the fourth set.

``Stuff like that happens daily in tennis matches ... it was very, very mild in comparison to what happens in other sports,'' Murray said. ``It's just one of those things.''

Murray said while the outburst didn't ``rattle'' him, it might have helped Federer get back in the match.

``I think he raised his game, and that's what happens,'' he said. ``Sometimes guys need to get emotion into the match. He definitely raised his level ... in that game I think he hit two balls onto the line and was extremely aggressive after that.''

Asked again what Federer had said, Murray reiterated he didn't feel it was ``relevant.''

``I'm sure Roger won't talk about it and I have no interest in discussing it either, because, like I say, it happens all the time,'' he said. ``People will want to make a big deal of it and it isn't really a big deal.

``It's a very late finish, I'm tired. I don't want to be wasting any energy, because I'll need all of it if I want to win against Novak on Sunday.''

With a capacity crowd of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena watching, including the Australian legend Laver himself, Federer opened the match serving and was in trouble early, losing a 28-rally point to set up break point for Murray. But Federer held the game with a stunning cross-court forehand that just looped over the net from the baseline.

Murray, who had not lost a set through five rounds at Melbourne Park this year, had the first service break - on his fourth break point - to lead 2-1. It came in unusually cool summer conditions in Melbourne - breezy and temperatures of only 60 degrees during most of the match.

The crowd was initially evenly split between Federer and Murray supporters - and at times, they were competing to be heard. At one point in the second set, a group of Murray fans wearing white shirts with blue letters spelling his nickname ``Muzza'' stood to chant Murray's name, while a group of Federer supporters with Swiss flags on their cheeks and shirts chanted Federer's name.

Earlier Friday, top-seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy won the first title of 2013 at Melbourne Park, beating the unseeded Australian pair of Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 for the women's doubles championship.

The 16-year-old Barty was attempting to become the youngest Grand Slam champion since Martina Hingis won the Australian Open singles title in 1997.

Li lost the Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters in 2011 two months before winning her first and only Grand Slam at the French Open.

``Last time was more exciting, (more) nervous because it was my first time to be in a final,'' Li said. ``But I think this time (I'm) more calmed down, more cool.''

Azarenka leads 5-4 in career matches, including winning the last four times they've played.

``I'm really hungry to defend my title,'' Azarenka said. ``I've put myself in the position to give it the best shot.''

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Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard out against Wizards

The Wizards will catch a break on Saturday night when they host the Toronto Raptors in the second game of their regular season, as Raptors superstar Kawhi Leonard is being held out due to rest.

Leonard, who has been dominant so far for the 2-0 Raptors, is being limited in back-to-backs after he missed 73 games last season due to a quadriceps injury. The Raptors played the night before against the Celtics.

With Leonard out, the Raptors will likely rely on C.J. Miles and O.G. Anunoby at the small forward position. Shooting guard Delon Wright is also out with a shoulder injury.

Though Leonard and Wright are out of the mix, Toronto still has plenty of talent including All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry. Lowry is averaging 21 points, seven assists and 3.5 rebounds through two games. 

Serge Ibaka has been their third-leading scorer with 15 points per game to go along with 6.5 rebounds. They also acquired Danny Green in the Leonard deal and he's off to a strong start with 12.5 points and five rebounds per game.

Leonard's absence may be noticed more on the defensive end, as he is one of the best in the NBA on the perimeter. That could make things a bit easier for Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr.

The Wizards and Raptors next play on Nov. 23. That game is in Toronto.

 

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'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

'It's a house divided': The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is affecting these 'Skins' families

Zach Brown is a fearless player. Turns out, Zach Brown's dad is pretty fearless, too.

That first statement is one you can confirm by watching the Redskins linebacker play each time he takes the field, often times hurt.

The second statement, on the other hand, was confirmed earlier this week in an interview between Brown and JP Finlay about the Washington-Dallas rivalry.

"It got under our skin, knowing we got swept by them [last year]," the defender told Finlay after a weekday practice. "You just hate to go back home and hear them talk so much trash."

The leader of the brave "them" who actually taunt a 250-pound LB following a loss? Oh, just Brown's father, who's a diehard Cowboys supporter.

"My dad was giving it to me," he said while looking back on the 2017 season. "I said, 'Don't worry about it. Next year's gonna be a different movement.'"

"I'm gonna talk trash at the end of this season," Brown added. "It's a house divided."

Adrian Peterson knows what Brown's talking about. The Texas native even went as far as to break down exactly how his own house is divided.

According to him, 75-percent of his family are all about the Cowboys, 10-percent are looking for him to put up good numbers in a 'Boys victory and the final 15-percent have converted to the burgundy and gold.

Rookie corner Greg Stroman can relate as well. The Virginia kid who'll be making his debut in the series he's very familiar with said his grandma and her relatives fall on both sides of the matchup.

Stroman does have one advantage over Brown and Peterson, though. Unlike the two veterans, he was able to get his entire family's rooting interests in order for Sunday, at least.

"They all bought in now," he said.

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