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Qualifier beats Simon to reach Paris Masters final

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Qualifier beats Simon to reach Paris Masters final

PARIS (AP) Jerzy Janowicz of Poland became the first qualifier in eight years to reach the Paris Masters final after beating Gilles Simon of France 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday.

Playing in Futures tournaments at the start of the year, he's beaten five top-20 players on his improbable run - Philipp Kohlschreiber (19) Marin Cilic (15), Andy Murray (3) and Janko Tipsarevic (9).

``I cannot believe this actually. How is this possible?'' Janowicz said. ``I came here just to play qualifications, and suddenly after a few days I'm in the final. I don't know how did I this. But tomorrow the final is waiting for me. Wow.''

In the first ATP final of his career on Sunday, he will meet either fourth-seeded David Ferrer or Michael Llodra of France.

``I played against a French guy today, and the French crowd was helping him a lot. They were clapping after my double faults, after missing the first serve,'' Janowicz said. ``Somehow I was able to handle it. I hope tomorrow I will do the same.''

Janowicz broke in the fifth game to take control of the first set and in the 11th of the second. He clinched victory on his second match point.

After hugging Simon at the net, the 69th-ranked Janowicz let out a scream and dropped to the floor with his head in his hands after becoming the first player in 12 years to reach a final on his Masters debut.

``I didn't know what I was supposed to think, and I had a thousand different kind of feelings,'' Janowicz said. ``When I had match point today I felt a little bit strange. I had chicken skin (goose bumps).''

Janowicz won 88 percent of first-serve points and didn't face a single break point.

``I played against an opponent who is full of confidence and who you sense is playing freely, hitting the ball as hard as he can every time,'' Simon said. ``His service game is really hard to get back. I think I'm among the best returners on the circuit each year, and I didn't get the slightest chance. It was going really fast, on every service game.''

He wrapped up the first set in 37 minutes, then broke the 20th-ranked Simon for the second time with a drop shot - another useful weapon, along with his booming serve.

Janowicz is still struggling for sponsorship and missed the Australian Open this year because he didn't have enough money to travel. He had previously reached only one career quarterfinal, at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow last month.

``The street next to my house actually is completely blocked. There is like about nine or 10 cars, TVs. There is no way to get to my house right now,'' he said. ``So I think after this final I have a chance to find some really good sponsors and I will not have to worry about the money.''

Poland President Bronislaw Komorowski is also a new admirer.

``I don't know if I can answer this question, but probably, yes,'' a smiling Janowicz said when asked if he had been contacted by Komorowski.

Janowicz is expected to break into the top 30 next week after beginning the year ranked 221st.

Jarkko Nieminen of Finland is the only qualifier to win a tournament this year, in Sydney in January.

The last player to reach a Masters final on debut was Harel Levy of Israel in 2000. He lost to Marat Safin in Toronto. Safin also beat qualifier Radek Stepanek in the Paris Masters final in 2004.

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”

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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

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Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!

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