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Sharapova impressive on way to Aussie Open semis

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Sharapova impressive on way to Aussie Open semis

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Maria Sharapova has lost only nine games in five matches on the way to the semifinals at the Australian Open. Always the perfectionist, she sees room for improvement.

Sharapova beat fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2 Tuesday and was asked afterward if she'd lost focus in only a few games this tournament.

``No, I'd probably say more,'' she said, ``but that's probably because I'm critical.''

If that's the case, she's a pretty tough taskmaster.

After opening with pair of 6-0, 6-0 wins, Sharapova beat seven-time major winner Venus Williams 6-1, 6-3 in the third round and Belgian Kristen Flipkens 6-0, 6-1 in the fourth.

Nobody has conceded fewer games on the way to the semifinals at the Australian Open, and her impressive streak comes after having played in no warm-up tournaments due to a right collarbone injury.

But after having advanced to the final here last year, losing to Victoria Azarenka in lopsided fashion, Sharapova is taking nothing for granted.

``To be honest, those are not the stats you want to be known for,'' Sharapova said, adding that she was more concerned about adding a fifth Grand Slam title and had spent plenty of time on the practice court.

Later Tuesday on the same Rod Laver Arena court, Novak Djokovic was attempting to stay in contention to win a third consecutive Australian Open title in a quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych. The winner of that match will play David Ferrer in the semis.

The No. 4-seeded Ferrer survived once in the third set and twice in the fourth when No. 10 Nicolas Almagro was serving for the match, holding firm to finally advance to his fourth semifinal in six Grand Slam events with a 4-6, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (4), 6-2 win.

Sharapova's semifinal opponent had already been decided. Li Na beat Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5, 6-3 in the first of Tuesday's quarterfinals, breaking the Pole's 13-match winning streak to start the season.

It was the second straight year that Makarova has lost to Sharapova after knocking out a seeded player in the third round. Last year, she beat Serena Williams in the fourth round. Last weekend, it was No. 5-ranked Angelique Kerber.

Sixth-seeded Li didn't overly tax herself, either, in the quarterfinals.

The 30-year-old Li advanced to her third semifinal in four years at Melbourne Park.

``She's a tough player. I was feeling today against a wall,'' said Li, who lost the 2011 Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters only months before her Grand Slam breakthrough at the French Open.

The quarterfinals on the other half of the women's draw will be held Wednesday, with American teenager Sloane Stephens taking on Serena Williams, who is aiming for a third consecutive major title, and defending champion Azarenka playing two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.

The first man through to the semifinals at Melbourne Park had a difficult time.

``It was (a) miracle I won this match, I think,'' Ferrer said. ``I tried to fight every point, that's my game. I always fight.''

Almagro dominated the first two sets and was serving for the match in the third when Ferrer bounced back, breaking in the crucial 10th game and then breaking his Davis Cup teammate again.

The fourth set featured eight service breaks, and Ferrer finally took control in a tiebreaker to force a fifth set.

Almagro has played 33 consecutive majors, but never reached a semifinal. This was his first Grand Slam quarterfinal on any surface other than clay - he reached three quarterfinals at the French - and he really took the match to Ferrer, the leading Spaniard in the tournament with the absence of 11-time major winner Rafael Nadal.

Almagro hurt his upper left leg late in the fourth set and needed a medical timeout before the fifth. After holding serve in a long game to open the fifth set, he quickly wilted after the first break.

On the last point, he hit a service return back into play and had already started strolling to the net as Ferrer prepared to hit the winner.

As he left the court, he gave his compatriot a friendly pat on the back as Ferrer packed his bag on the courtside chairs, then left Rod Laver Arena.

``In the important moments, I played more consistent in my game,'' Ferrer said. ``Of course, in the next round, the semifinals, I need to play my best tennis, better than today.''

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Terry McLaurin continues to dominate the Eagles with an electric 75-yard touchdown

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Terry McLaurin continues to dominate the Eagles with an electric 75-yard touchdown

In Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season, Terry McLaurin introduced himself to opposing defenses, specifically the Eagles secondary, as he racked up 125 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.

Since then, the rookie receiver has continued to showcase his talent, establishing himself as Washington's No. 1 target and a pass catcher that all teams should fear. Through incredible catches and strong runs after the receptions, he's shown he can do it all.

So with the Eagles coming to town in Week 15 for a divisional battle, what would he do for an encore? It didn't take long for Philadelphia to find out.

Catching a pass from Dwayne Haskins on a slant, McLaurin turned upfield, left the secondary in the dust and sprinted into the end zone for a 75-yard score to give Washington a 7-3 lead in the first half.

Not only did the touchdown show McLaurin's ability, but it also displayed the growing connection between him and Haskins. Teammates in college, the two are still continuing to get more comfortable with each other. Plays like that are a sign of things to come, something that will please Redskins fans and even get a smile out of their former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who was reportedly in attendance for Sunday's game.

If McLaurin is doing this in his rookie year, the Eagles are not going to enjoy the coming years.

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There’s one team that could reportedly stop a Terrell Suggs return to Baltimore

There’s one team that could reportedly stop a Terrell Suggs return to Baltimore

According to a report from Ian Rapoport, there’s one team that could ruin a Terrell Suggs return to Baltimore

Rapoport reported on Sunday morning that the Tennessee Titans were one team that appears poised to claim the 37-year-old outside linebacker. 

The Titans entered Sunday at 8-5 and tied for the division lead in the AFC South. 

A connection for Suggs in Tennessee is Dean Pees, who was a linebackers coach for the Ravens from 2010 and 2011 before he became defensive coordinator, a role he held from 2012-2017. He became the Titans defensive coordinator in 2018.

The Ravens don’t have much power when it comes to bringing the franchise icon to Baltimore, as they are currently last on the waiver wire. 

Suggs will be on waivers until Monday at 4 p.m., where he’ll find out which team — if any — claimed the former Defensive Player of the Year. 

Adam Schefter previously reported that Suggs might not report to the team that claims him, should it not be the Ravens. 

Whatever the case is with Suggs, the resolution is coming by Monday evening. 

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