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Querrey uspets Djokovic in Paris Masters

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Querrey uspets Djokovic in Paris Masters

PARIS (AP) Sam Querrey recovered from a humiliating first set to beat second-seeded Novak Djokovic 0-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the second round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

It was the first time since the Miami Masters in March 2010 that Djokovic has been eliminated so early in a tournament.

``During the second set I already felt that physically I'm down, and I struggled (in) every game,'' Djokovic said. ``It's unfortunate, but on the brighter side, I have a little bit more time to rest because I had really difficult period in the last couple of weeks. Some things happened and a lot of things on my mind.''

The Serb entered the court wearing a Darth Vader mask on Halloween, and continued to put on a show by winning the first set in just 21 minutes.

``It was a little embarrassing,'' Querrey said. ``But then I got rolling and got more confidence and started serving better and being a little more aggressive.''

Djokovic then started to waver under the relentless accuracy of the American's big serve, and made too many unforced errors the rest of the way.

Querrey hit 18 aces and converted his second match point when Djokovic's return sailed long.

Djokovic had already secured the year-end No. 1 ranking after defending champion Roger Federer pulled out of the tournament to rest for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London.

After sealing the first set with some extravagant shot-making, everything had pointed to a comfortable win for Djokovic after he broke for a 2-0 lead in the second set. But Querrey found his range, hitting 10 aces during the set. Djokovic played too many loose shots in the tiebreak and Querrey evened the match on his first set point when Djokovic's forehand clipped the net and bounced wide.

``I was concerned about how long I can keep that level, since physically I'm not feeling very good in last couple of days,'' Djokovic said. ``When you're playing somebody that hits, that serves that well in the corners, there is nothing you can do.''

The match turned in Querrey's favor in the fifth game of the deciding set, when he broke for a 3-2 lead with a stinging forehand winner, and held for 4-2 after another sloppy forehand from Djokovic landed in the net.

Djokovic battled back and had a great chance to even the set at 4-4, but Querrey saved five break points in the eighth game, three of them aces.

``I thought I served amazing, especially the big points. I felt like I made a first serve there every time,'' Querrey said. ``I could see he was struggling a little bit, missing some shots he probably wouldn't normally miss.''

Querrey will play 14th-seeded Milos Raonic of Canada in the third round. or Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the third round. Raonic had 26 aces in a 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-3 win against Jeremy Chardy of France.

Murray, fourth-seeded David Ferrer of Spain and No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina won their matches comfortably.

Murray saved two break points before clinching the first set when France's Paul-Henri Mathieu returned his looping second serve into the net. The Briton sealed the win on a double-fault from Mathieu. He next plays Jerzy Janowicz of Poland.

``I played him in Davis Cup a few years ago. He's a huge guy, big serve. He's having his best year on the tour,'' Murray said. ``It will be a tough match. I mean on courts like this, if he serves big he's going to be a tough guy to break.''

Del Potro served six aces and broke Alejandro Falla of Colombia three times in each set to win 6-2, 6-2. He next faces Michael Llodra of France.

Ferrer beat Marcel Granollers 6-1, 6-3 in an all-Spanish match. Ferrer, who is tied with Roger Federer for the most tour titles this year with six, faces 16th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in the third round.

Eighth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia also advanced to the third round, beating Dutchman Igor Sijsling 6-4, 7-6 (0), and keeping alive his slim chances of qualifying for the ATP Finals.

Ninth-seeded Juan Monaco of Argentina beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (4), 6-2 and still has an outside chance of reaching London. Tipsarevic and Monaco play each other next, but No. 12 Richard Gasquet's chances of making it to London have gone after a 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-1 loss to South African Kevin Anderson.

There were also wins for 11th-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain, Llodra and Gilles Simon of France.

Almagro beat countryman Albert Ramos 7-6 (1), 6-7 (4), 6-3; Llodra downed No. 10 John Isner of the United States 6-4, 7-6 (5), and Simon won 7-5, 6-3 against Victor Hanescu of Romania.

Rafael Nadal, who is working his way back from a knee injury, also skipped the tournament.

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4 keys for the Caps to win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final

4 keys for the Caps to win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final

It all starts Monday!

The Vegas Golden Knights will host the Washington Capitals in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final as both teams look to take early control of the series.

Can the Caps steal one on the road to start? Here are four keys to winning Game 1.

Win the first period

The Golden Knights have not played a game since May 20. While rest can benefit a team at this time of the year, there is such a thing as too much rest and over a week would certainly qualify. If there is absolutely any rust in Vegas’ game to start, the Caps need to take advantage.

T-Mobile Arena and the Vegas crowd have already built a reputation in year one. The atmosphere is going to be electric, but the Caps can combat that with a good start to the game and by scoring first.

Vegas is 10-1 when scoring first this postseason. If they are able to come in and get on the board right off the bat in the first period after seven full days between games, that does not bode well for the Caps’ chances.

Don’t allow Marc-Andre Fleury to pick up where he left off

Fleury is having a postseason for the ages, but it’s hard to believe momentum is simply going to carry over to a new series after such a lengthy break. Players are not simply going to pick up where they left off and play as if there’s no rust to shake off. The need to get to Fleury as early as possible.

What that means is getting traffic in front of the net, making him move, contesting rebounds, making him feel uncomfortable as much as possible and generating quality offensive chances.

The Caps can do is starting flinging pucks at the net and giving him easy saves. Getting 12 shots in the first period would be great, but not if they are all perimeter shots for easy saves that help bring Fleury's confidence back to where it was in the Western Conference Final.

Limit the turnovers

Turnovers are blood in the water for Vegas. The high-effort, high-speed style of play of the Golden Knights has caught several players off guard at points this postseason. No one can afford to be casual with the puck at any point in this game because Vegas has a knack for turning those turnovers into goals.

Winning Game 1 on the road will be hard enough without giving the Golden Knights at any help.

Shut down the top line

Only three players have reached double digits in points for the Golden Knights in the playoffs: Jonathan Marchessault (18), Reilly Smith (16) and William Karlsson (13). What do these three have in common? They all play on Vegas’ top line. To compare, the Caps have seven players in double digits.

Much has been made of Vegas’ offensive depth and their ability to roll four lines, but the play of Fleury in net has really masked how much this team relies on its top line for offense. The Caps need to get Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen on the ice against them and focus on shutting them down. Force the Golden Knights to win with their other three lines and see if they can.

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MacLellan on facing McPhee in Stanley Cup Final: 'It's a little awkward'

MacLellan on facing McPhee in Stanley Cup Final: 'It's a little awkward'

LAS VEGAS—One of the more intriguing storylines of this year’s Stanley Cup Final centers on a couple of men who make their living behind the scenes: Brian MacLellan of the Caps and his counterpart with the Golden Knights, George McPhee.

They’ve known each other for 40-plus years, dating back to their time as bantam teammates in Canada. And, starting Monday, they’ll be on opposing sides, with hockey’s Holy Grail at stake.  

Caps fans, of course, are familiar with McPhee’s work. He served as GM in Washington from 1997-2014 and drafted 13 players who are currently on the Caps’ roster. McPhee was also the Caps’ rookie GM the last time the franchise appeared in the Final 20 years ago.

But here’s what Caps fans might not know about the connection that MacLellan and McPhee share:

  • They were born in a few months apart in 1958 in Ontario.
  • They captured the Canadian Jr. A championship as members of the 1977-78 Guelph Platers.
  • Both were on scholarship at Bowling Green from 1978-1982.
  • They played together with the New York Rangers in 1985-86.
  • And, finally, they worked side-by-side in Washington from 2000-2014. After working his way up from the scouting ranks, MacLellan replaced his managerial mentor, who had been let go following a disappointing season.

 

“It's kind of a weird experience,” MacLellan said. “We kind of have been texting back and forth how strange it feels to have this line up the way it has. It's a little awkward, but it's going to be a fun experience, I hope.”

At one point, MacLellan got choked up when talking about his relationship with McPhee, who’ll become the first GM in the expansion era to face a former team of which he served as GM.

“We played junior together and then we both went to Bowling Green on scholarships, so we lived together,” he said, fighting back tears. “It was fun.”

MacLellan also acknowledged that the two weren’t as tight—for a time, at least—after he replaced McPhee four years ago. McPhee also hinted at some strain, though he said the two men had dinner at the most recent GM’s meetings.

“Not as close, I don't think,” MacLellan said of his relationship with McPhee following McPhee’s dismissal. “A little bit of communication here and there. But I think it just took a little time for things to evolve. I think he needed a break from the game, needed a break from how it went down for him here and it just took time.”

When the two negotiated during last year’s expansion draft, which saw McPhee pluck promising you blueliner Nate Schmidt from Washington’s roster, MacLellan said the two old friends keep things “businesslike.”

“He was all business,” MacLellan said. “He wasn’t giving in on anything.”

Although McPhee drafted most of the core players who delivered the Caps to this year’s Final, MacLellan also deserves credit for getting this team over the second round hump. Among his first acquisitions were defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik, a pair of vets that helped shore up a shaky defense. MacLellan also added forwards T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller via trade in recent seasons and, this year, added defenseman Michal Kempny, a particularly shrewd move that bolstered a blue line that needed a little tightening.

As weird as the next few days will be for MacLellan as he faces his old friend, it figures to even more strange for McPhee, who will look down from the GM’s suite on Monday and see not one, but two teams that he built on the ice. McPhee also pilfered a handful of current and former front office employees from Caps, including Goalie Coach Dave Prior, while building the Golden Knights.

Indeed, the history between MacLellan and McPhee runs deep. But for the next couple of weeks, they’ll put aside their decades-old friendship as their clubs battle for the NHL’s ultimate prize.
 

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