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No 5 Kerber out, Makarova wins again in 4th round

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No 5 Kerber out, Makarova wins again in 4th round

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber has been ousted in the fourth round of the Australian Open by the woman who defeated Serena Williams at the same stage last year.

No. 19-seeded Ekaterina Makarova had a 7-5, 6-4 win in the opening match Sunday on Rod Laver Arena, taking out the highest seed to tumble so far at the season's first major.

Makarova beat Williams in the fourth round in 2012 at Melbourne Park and went on to reach the quarterfinals, which remains her best result at a Grand Slam.

Kerber and Makarova were two of only four women in 2012 to beat Williams, who finished off unbeaten post-August with titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics, the U.S. Open and the WTA Championships.

Wimbledon semifinalist Kerber had beaten Makarova three times last year, including in the second round at Wimbledon.

``Seems like it was the same this year and last year. Unbelievable feeling,'' Makarova said. ``I really like to play here. The crowd is so perfect.''

The 24-year-old Makarova could meet fellow Russian, No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova, in the quarterfinals, at the same stage they met last year. Sharapova can advance by beating playing Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens later Sunday in the fourth round.

``Actually I really want to play against Maria because I lost here last year in the quarters and I play a lot of times against her last year,'' Makarova said. ``Now I'm pretty confident and I like my game.''

``Last year I was so surprised ... and I had so many thoughts in my mind. This year I'm a little bit used to it, so I think I'll be ready to play a good game.''

Another pair who met here last year played out a similar result on Saturday night, with No. 2-ranked Roger Federer knocking Bernard Tomic out of the tournament in straight sets to end Australia's participation in either the men's or women's singles draws.

Federer gave the 20-year-old Aussie an instant reality check by breaking him in the very first game to set up a 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-1 win.

``I elected to serve, considering I was serving really well the last few weeks,'' said Tomic, who won his first ATP World Tour title at Sydney last week and had a win over No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic at an exhibition tournament in Perth at the start of the month. ``Yeah ... that first service game was important. I lost it. Then I was like, `Oh, no!'''

Federer, who has won four of his 17 Grand Slam titles at Melbourne Park, also beat Tomic in the fourth round here last year.

``It's not my favorite part of the job beating up on the hometown heroes,'' Federer told the crowd at Rod Laver Arena, where he has won four of his 17 Grand Slam titles. ``But it's nice that you guys sort of invite me back every year.''

Federer earned his 250th win at a Grand Slam event, the milestone sprinkled with some of his classic crisp volleys and trademark one-handed backhands.

Federer won the first point of the match with a forehand winner, the first of three in that game, and Tomic only won two points before the Swiss star converted a service break in the first game.

Federer will face Canadian Milos Raonic, who had 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-4 win over Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in a matchup of two big servers.

The third round ended in the early hours of Sunday morning, when No. 14-seeded Gilles Simon outlasted fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 1-6, 8-6 in a match that finished at 12:32 a.m. local time.

Both men needed treatment from the trainer during the 4 hour, 43-minute match on Hisense Arena, with Simon struggling to shake off soreness in his elbow and Monfils fighting fatigue.

Simon and Jeremy Chardy, who ousted 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, were among the four Frenchman who advanced on Saturday.

Their compatriots, No. 7-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - who beat Slovenian Blaz Kavcic 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 - No. 9 Richard Gasquet - who ousted Croatia's Ivan Dodig 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-0 - will meet in the next round.

Del Potro's 6-3, 6-3, 6-7 (3), 3-6, 6-3 loss to Chardy left only three major winners in the men's draw, and they're collectively known as the ``Big Three'' - Djokovic, Federer and Andy Murray.

Murray, who broke a 76-year drought for British men at the majors with his win at the U.S. Open last year, advanced to the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 win over Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis.

Defending women's champion Victoria Azarenka struggled at times before putting away injured American Jamie Hampton 6-4, 4-6. 6-2 in 2 hours, 9 minutes.

No. 3 Serena Williams dropped serve early in the second set before winning the last six games in her 6-1, 6-3 victory against Japan's Ayumi Morita.

Top-ranked Azarenka overcame an early break and fended off triple break point in the seventh game of the deciding set before clinching the match.

Hampton needed a medical timeout for a lower back problem immediately before she served out the second set, and winced in pain throughout the latter half of the match.

``She took a medical timeout but she rips winners all over the place,'' Azarenka said. ``I was like, `Can I have a back problem?' I'm feeling great, but I'm missing every shot.''

Azarenka next plays Elena Vesnina, who beat 16th-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy 7-6 (4), 6-4.

Williams, aiming for a third consecutive Grand Slam title, will next meet No. 14 Maria Kirilenko, who beat No. 20 Yanina Wickmayer 7-6 (4), 6-3.

Also advancing were former U.S. and French Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki. Sloane Stephens beat Laura Robson 7-5, 6-3 in a matchup between the only teenagers left in the women's draw.

That set the 19-year-old Stephens on course for a fourth-round match against Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski, who ended the run of 42-year-old Kimko Date-Krumm in the third round.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

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  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”

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