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No American men left in Australian Open 4th round

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No American men left in Australian Open 4th round

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Novak Djokovic slammed Lance Armstrong's long-delayed doping admissions, saying the seven-time Tour de France winner is a disgrace to cycling and ``should suffer for his lies.''

At the same time, the No. 1-ranked man in tennis says the drug testing program in his sport is ``good,'' while conceding that for the last six months he hasn't had a blood test in the anti-doping program.

``I think it's a disgrace for the sport to have an athlete like this,'' Djokovic said of Armstrong after his straight-set win over Radek Stepanek. ``It would be ridiculous for him to decline and refuse all the charges because it has been proven. He cheated many people around the world with his career, with his life story.''

The Armstrong doping saga also raised questions over drug testing in tennis, and Djokovic said he supported the International Tennis Federation's current program.

``At least from my perspective, it's really good,'' he said, outlining the current regime where tennis players have to give anti-doping authorities details of their whereabouts each day, in case they're required for out-of-competition testing.

Djokovic admitted that the blood tests that can detect the presence of EPO, a known oxygen booster in the blood which could help a tennis player cope better in long rallies and extended matches, have been a rarity for him lately.

He was asked to respond to reports that ITF records show that in 2011, only 18 blood tests were taken of the top players.

``Yeah, I wasn't tested with blood for last six, seven months,'' Djokovic said. ``It was more regular ... two, three years ago. I don't know the reason why they stopped it.''

Maria Sharapova said after her win over Venus Williams later Friday that the Armstrong revelations are ``just a really sad story, sad for that sport.''

``I'm happy that our sport is as clean as it can be and that we're constantly tested,'' she said. ``So as long as we're getting tested, whatever it takes, urine, blood, we're all here to make the sport as clean as it can be.''

Djokovic also said he's confident of the integrity of tennis.

``I believe tennis players are (among) the cleanest athletes in the world,'' Djovovic said. ``So as long as we keep it that way, I have no complaints about testing.''

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SILVER LININGS: No American men reached the fourth round of the Australian Open for the second consecutive year, but Sam Querrey doesn't think it's necessarily a reflection on the state of American tennis.

The top American player, No. 13 John Isner, pulled out before the tournament began with a knee injury and veteran Mardy Fish, currently ranked 27th, skipped the Australian Open as he continues to recover from heart problems.

``If they were here, hopefully one of them would have made it,'' Querrey said.

Querrey, seeded 20th, was the last American man standing in Melbourne until he lost in the third round Friday to 15th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.

``We're doing our best,'' Querrey said. ``I don't think the state of American tennis is poor, you know, I think it's pretty solid if you compare it to most countries. You can argue we're in the top five overall, maybe.''

The U.S. didn't have any men in the fourth round last year, either. And that was with Isner, Fish and the now-retired Andy Roddick playing in the tournament.

No American man has won the Australian Open since Andre Agassi in 2003, and no one has won a major since Roddick at the 2003 U.S. Open.

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EXPENSIVE OUTBURST: Jerzy Janowicz's on-court meltdown at the Australian Open is going to cost him.

The 24th-seeded Pole became irate over a line call during his second-round match against India's Somdev Devvarman and repeatedly screamed at the chair umpire, spat on the court and hit the umpire's chair with his racket.

The tantrum went viral on YouTube with more than 750,000 views in two days.

Janowicz won't escape without punishment, however. On Friday, he was fined $2,500 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Janowicz was incredulous when told by The Associated Press that he had received a fine.

``For sure I will not believe this because I didn't say anything bad,'' he said. ``I didn't do anything bad. I was just shouting. You get fined for shouting?''

The fine is the highest of the 2013 Australian Open tournament thus far, but it could have been worse. Last year, David Nalbandian received an $8,000 fine for throwing water at a staff member at Melbourne Park after another disputed line call.

Marcos Baghdatis, meanwhile, was penalized just $1,250 for smashing four rackets during a changeover at last year's tournament - an outburst that also became a hit on YouTube, with more than 1.4 million views - and counting.

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NO MORE RACKET BUSTING: Has fatherhood changed Marcos Baghdatis? No racket rage this year. No record-long matches.

Baby Zahara was born Oct. 20, shortly after Baghdatis married Croatian tennis player Karolina Sprem in July.

``Everything is good'' on the baby front, said Baghdatis, who is 27 years old and ranked 28th. ``I miss her when I'm away for so long.''

Baghdatis will be able to return home soon. He lost his third-round match to No. 4 David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

The spirited Cypriot said that he regretted last year's outburst.

``Everybody does some stupid things in their life. Mine was last year when I broke those four rackets,'' he said, adding that fatherhood has little to do with this year's perspective on racket abuse.

``I don't think it's because I came a father that I didn't do it this year,'' he said.

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CELEBRITY COACH: Li Na's new coach has been the talk of the tournament - and she fears other members of her team are getting jealous.

The former French Open champion hired Carlos Rodriguez, Justine Henin's former coach, after Wimbledon last year to help raise her game. The Chinese star hasn't reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event since her breakthrough win at Roland Garros in 2011.

The new partnership has brought immediate results: Li has won two titles and amassed a 28-8 win-loss record.

She's also into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating Romania's Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-1 on Friday, and hasn't dropped a set at this year's tournament.

Li is happy with her new celebrity coach, but is tired of fielding questions about him. So tired, in fact, she invited Rodriguez down to the court after her victory to answer questions himself in her post-match TV interview.

``After he was (coaching) me, every time in the press conference, ask about Carlos. So Carlos, you should stand here and answer some questions,'' she said.

Rodriguez, however, had already slipped out of Rod Laver Arena. ``He's just gone, I can't even see him,'' Li said, laughing.

Rodriguez may not be able to take all the credit for Li's strong play at the Australian Open this year. Two years ago, she complained that her husband's snoring had kept her awake the night before her semifinal against Caroline Wozniacki - a match she won to reach her first Grand Slam final.

This year, she's getting more sleep. ``I am staying in a suite - two rooms!'' she tweeted on Friday.

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Associated Press writers Dennis Passa and Jocelyn Gecker contributed to this report.

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Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

Redspears or not these uniform designs are a great option for Washington

When looking at the endless amounts of fan concepts and designs out there for the Washington Football Team's next name and logo, it's important to remember that not every idea belongs to the name suggestion of the designer. 

Once Washington makes its final decision, you can bet they'll be looking at a number of different options, and if they want to take a look at the fans' work, they could take a Red Wolves logo and match it up with a Red Tails uniform concept and tweak both to match whatever name they choose. 

In that case, whatever name and logo they choose should have these uniforms, plain and simple. 

 

Mike Joseph created these uniforms as part of his Washington Redspears project and did an exceptional job mocking up a number of different modern uniform designs.

RELATED: DEL RIO EXPLAINS WHY HE'S SO ACTIVE ON TWITTER

Redspears isn't a likely name change due to reports saying the franchise plans to stay away from Native American imagery, but that doesn't mean we should ignore these designs.

 

These use the burgundy and gold really well and have a unique number font that has worked for NFL teams like the Ravens, Broncos, Bears, Titans and Steelers in the past. 

The great part about this design is it could be easily rebranded to a different. All the franchise would have to do is lose the spear logo and use whatever logo they settle upon. They could even keep the numbers on the helmet as they have currently. Everything else is versatile. 

Between the sleek design, use of colors and the unique number fonts, this has to be one of, if not the best fan-generated uniform mock-up out there. If the Washington Football team uses these but with a different team name and logo, it'd be hard to complain about that decision. 

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Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

Recent numbers indicate just how hard it could be for Antonio Gandy-Golden to help as a rookie

There were already some decent expectations placed on Antonio Gandy-Golden for 2020 — and then Kelvin Harmon went down. Now, the Day 3 selection is being labeled as someone who needs to really contribute to the Washington Football Team.

But is that too much to ask for a rookie who went on Saturday in the draft? Recent numbers indicate that answer may be yes.

From 2015 to 2019, 25 wide receivers were chosen in the fourth round, which is where Washington nabbed Gandy-Golden a few months ago. Here are some takeaways from looking back on how all of those guys performed in their first professional seasons:

  • Only one target topped 50 catches and 600 yards, and coincidentally enough, it was Jamison Crowder. Crowder caught 59 passes for 604 yards and two scores as a rookie for the Burgundy and Gold in 2015. The only other guy who came close to either of those marks was Antonio Callaway, who had 43 grabs for 586 yards and five touchdowns for Cleveland in 2018. Those are easily the two best performances by a fourth-round rookie wideout since 2015, so keep that in mind when discussing Gandy-Golden.
  • Out of that group of 25, 15 suited up for double-digit games for their teams during their first taste of the league. The average stat line for those 15 rookies was 17 receptions for 182 yards and one touchdown in about 14 contests. That's meager. 
  • Just nine out of the 25 recorded a touchdown catch as a rookie, and only four (Crowder, Callaway, DaeSean Hamilton and Malcom Mitchell) visited the end zone multiple times.

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So, judging solely off of that data, it would appear that Washington shouldn't be prepared to lean heavily Gandy-Golden. And once you combine that history with other factors, such as the huge transition he's about to make from Libery to the NFL and the very limited offseason he's had thus far, then the outlook for Gandy-Golden becomes even dimmer.

There is a super simple counter argument, however, at least when it comes to comparing him to his past fourth-round peers, and it has to do with his potential playing time.

While the 22-year-old has to fight through a pandemic, something none of the above rookies can relate to and something that could be detrimental to his early career, he also may be in line for a massive share of snaps right away. Most players who go off the board where Gandy-Golden did are usually worried about simply making the team; he, on the other hand, very well could be a starter across from Terry McLaurin in Week 1.

That alone means Gandy-Golden could end up having enough involvement in the offense to come up with a Crowder-like, impactful debut. In 2019, McLaurin far surpassed other third-round rookie receivers due largely to the amount of opportunity he got with Washington (his ridiculous talent was a bonus of course, too). Gandy-Golden is tracking on a similar path. 

A fairly general rule for any franchise is that it's not exactly prudent to need a Day 3 pass catcher to immediately act as one of your primary weapons. Stats from 2015 to 2019 seem to back up that general rule.

Every rule has an exception here or there, though. Maybe Gandy-Golden, with his outstanding physical traits and possibly featured role in 2020, will be that next exception and make all this math and comparing a totally moot issue. 

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