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Murray hasn't heard of any US Open boycott plans

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Murray hasn't heard of any US Open boycott plans

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Andy Murray says he hasn't heard of any plans for a boycott of the U.S. Open over an added day without extra compensation.

The tournament is moving to a Monday men's final.

``I know that the ATP are not particularly happy with the Monday final. I know that's an issue because however much revenue they make from having an extra day on their tournament hasn't really reflected in the increase in the prize money,'' Murray said Monday after his fourth-round win over Gilles Simon at the Australian Open.

``Since the player meeting, I haven't discussed with any of the players what was said there, what the plans are,'' Murray said.

He said the players have been advocating for increased prize money, but not with an additional day of play.

``I think that's what they're disappointed with,'' said Murray, who won his only Grand Slam title at the 2012 U.S. Open. ``But I personally haven't spoken with anyone about boycotting the event.''

``I don't want to go into that here at all, not the place for it,'' he added. ``Got the second week of a Slam to focus on. Can discuss that after the event. ``

Last year, organizers of the Australian Open were also faced with the threat of a player strike, in part due to discontent over how prize money was distributed at the major tournaments.

The Australian Open responded by taking the lead among Grand Slams in increasing prize money this year, making it the richest event.

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EGO CHECK: Martina Navratilova says only a ``big ego'' could have driven Lance Armstrong to lie about doping for so many years, and she thinks he should never be allowed to compete in any sport again.

The 18-time Grand Slam singles champion said she didn't watch Armstrong's TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, during which he admitted to doping while winning seven Tour de France titles, because she'd already made up her mind about him.

``There is no justification for what he did,'' Navratilova said. ``Lying about it with such conviction for so many years, suing people and winning and just denying it so many times. I mean, it takes some serious ego to be able to do that. Clearly, he has a big ego.

``He should never be able to compete anywhere at any level. If it was just a one-time deal, OK, but every year he raced, he was cheating. It's unimaginable.''

Navratilova is in Melbourne to play in the Australian Open legends doubles event.

She's confident tennis is a clean sport, but thinks anti-doping authorities should be giving players blood tests on a more consistent basis.

When told that top-ranked men's player Novak Djokovic said he hadn't received a blood test in six months, Navratilova said: ``He shouldn't be slipping through the cracks that much.''

``Some people may be tested once a month and then some get tested maybe once or twice a year,'' she said. Anti-doping authorities ``need to figure that out a little bit better, but overall I think tennis is in pretty good hands.''

Navratilova is teaming with that other famous Martina, five-time major winner Martina Hingis, in the legends doubles event. The Martinas beat Lindsay Davenport and Cara Black in a single set 7-6 (4) on Monday.

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THE NEXT SERENA: Three-time major winner Lindsay Davenport doesn't believe the future of American women's tennis will be so bleak once Serena Williams retires.

Davenport, in Melbourne to play in the Australian Open legends event, says teenagers Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys have the kinds of weapons necessary to become future top-10 stars.

``It's not about just getting the ball back in play anymore. It's about being able to finish points. It's about having a good serve. I think both of them have that,'' she said.

Stephens, 19, will play Williams in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal Wednesday. Keys, 17, upset Austria's Tamira Paszek in the first round at Melbourne Park before losing to fifth-seeded German Angelique Kerber in the third round.

Davenport predicts it will be a few years, however, before Williams is ready to quit. She foresees Williams winning a few more major titles.

``She's at 15. The next record for her to break would be Martina (Navratilova) and Chris (Evert) - they're at 18. I think she'll for sure get to 19,'' Davenport says.

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TWEETING WITH THE ENEMY: It was 4 a.m. on Monday, about two hours after Novak Djokovic had ripped off his shirt to celebrate his thrilling five-set win over Stanislas Wawrinka in the Australian Open.

But before turning in, Djokovic fired off one last tweet. It was to his opponent.

``Stan, thank you very much!! I am sorry for your loss.. Wish you all the best for the rest of the season.. It was great pleasure,'' Djokovic wrote.

Still awake himself, Wawrinka replied four minutes later: ``Congrats for the fight tonight! Good luck for the rest of the tournament.''

Then the 27-year-old Swiss player tweeted another message in French: ``Ca fait mal... Tres mal ........'' or ``That hurts. Really hurts.''

Djokovic next faces No. 5 Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals.

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Associated Press Writer Jocelyn Gecker contributed to this report.

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What winning the Stanley Cup would actually mean, a fan's perspective

What winning the Stanley Cup would actually mean, a fan's perspective

Just four more wins. It hardly seems possible.

For only the second time ever and for the first time in 20 years, the Capitals will be playing in the Stanley Cup Final. And they could actually win it.

They’re not there yet. The Vegas Golden Knights have cruised through the playoffs thus far and continue to shock the hockey community with their postseason run. Washington’s players need to think about how to beat Vegas, not what happens after.

But while the players cannot and should not look ahead, for fans, it’s hard not to. It’s hard not to dream about that moment when Gary Bettman hands the Stanley Cup over to Alex Ovechkin.

Winning the conference is always a huge achievement that should be celebrated, but this year is different than 1998’s run. Back in 1998, the Caps played against a Detroit Red Wings team that is one of the greatest teams in NHL history. They were the defending champions after sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers the year before. Washington suffered the same fate as the Flyers, losing in just four games.

This year is a battle between two more evenly matched teams. Picking the Caps to win this series is not outlandish or crazy at all. This year, they could actually do it.

So before the puck drops for Game 1 and all dreams are pushed aside for the realities of what may happen, allow a fan a chance to think about what seeing the Washington Capitals actually hoist the Stanley Cup would actually mean.

Breaking news: Washington is not Canada and the Capitals are not an original six team. Hockey is not ingrained in the culture of D.C. the way it is in Canadian cities or in places like Boston and Detroit. Unlike in Vegas where the success of the team in its inaugural season has caught the city by storm, the Capitals won only eight games in their first year. Eight wins doesn’t exactly help a team grow roots in the community.

If you’ve been a fan of the Capitals long enough, chances are you’ve seen some pretty tough times. There have been plenty of playoff disappointments in this team’s history even before the current era. There was also the rebuild that began before the lockout that saw a very bad team play in front of a half empty stadium for several years. And they would not have even gotten to that point without the “Save the Caps” campaign in 1982.

But through it all, that small group of hardcore fans kept coming back. Some may have wavered from time to time, but they came back because being a hockey fan is different than other sports.

It’s hard to be a sports fan in any city with an NFL team and not follow football. Football may not even be your sport, but there is almost on obligation to following it because coverage and interest in football is so prevalent. It’s hard to avoid.

You have to seek out hockey

Hockey at times has been viewed as more of a niche sport than mainstream. Before the age of Alex Ovechkin, if you were from Washington and you were following the Caps, it was because you loved both.

So why did those Caps fans keep coming back after so much heartbreak? Because despite all of the disappointing seasons we always walked away telling ourselves, this will just make it that much sweeter when they do win.

One day, it will all be worth it.

That’s why we watch sports, isn’t it? We watch with the knowledge that sometimes, our hearts will be broken but it’s OK because the good will always outweigh the bad. And the worse the bad times are, the better the good times will feel afterward.

We kept telling ourselves that for a long time, but admittedly some years were tougher to get past than others. It’s hard to keep believing when you’ve seen your rival beat you nine times out of 10 in the playoffs heading into this year’s postseason. It’s hard when a team cannot seem to overcome its playoff history despite having one of the best players of all-time on its roster.

When Ovechkin was drafted, the question we all asked ourselves was not whether he would bring a Cup to Washington, but how many? He brought new fans with him, he brought excitement with him, he brought validation with him…at least initially.

But with every passing year, doubt began to creep into our minds. The upset loss to Montreal in 2010 stung, but Ovechkin was still 24. There was still hope that one day, he would still win the Cup.

Now at 32 years old, many did not know what to expect from the Great 8 this year. When would decline start to show in his game?

Ovechkin is part of why we want the Cup so badly. We want to see the best player in this franchise’s history honored. We want to see the player who transformed hockey in Washington from niche sport to mainstream take his proper place in the sport’s history. No one wants to hear him described as one of the best players to never win a Cup because he should be remembered as one of the best players, period.

But that’s not all of it.

This is about all those times we told ourselves this would all be worth it someday. This is about how we used to cope with the sting of another postseason heartbreak by thinking about what it would feel like when it was finally our year. This is about how we stuck with the team when the stadium was half empty. This is about the blue jersey in our closet with the eagle on the front and the black one hanging next to it with the capitol building on the front. This is about all the 5, 12, 32 and 37 jerseys. This is about replacing Esa Tikkanen as our lasting Stanley Cup memory.

When the Washington Redskins have a rough year, those fans who can remember them think about those three Super Bowl wins. When the Washington Wizards fall short, those fans who can remember it think about the championship in 1978. Even if you’re too young to remember the Super Bowls or NBA championship, those banners still give your team a sense of validation. They have their little piece of history to be proud of.

That’s what this would mean. A Stanley Cup would be not just for the players, it would be for the fans who stuck it out through thick and thin, those fans who despite everything still supported their team. This win would be about the Capitals forever earning their spot in the heart of Washington sports alongside the Redskins and Wizards.

This would be about never having to tell ourselves again that someday all the love we pour into this team will pay off.

A Stanley Cup would mean finally getting to experience a championship and realizing, yeah, it was all worth it.

Let’s go Caps!

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Capital One Bank just made a Caps-themed update to its logo and we're here for it

Capital One Bank just made a Caps-themed update to its logo and we're here for it

Capital One is repping the district in a big way: by changing their logo to incorporate the Capitals' font and name. 

The new Capital One logo appears on the bank's websites and social media ahead of the Caps' Stanley Cup Final games, which begin on Memorial Day Monday in Vegas.

The McLean, Virginia, based bank recently purchased the naming rights to the Capitals' home arena, formerly known as "Verizon Center." And in the first year of its renaming, the Capitals have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years. Coincidence? 

We've seen a small, Northern Virginia town change its name to "Capitalsville," and now Capital One Bank is all-in for the Caps.

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