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Sharapova's Twitter debut; Murray's new look

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Sharapova's Twitter debut; Murray's new look

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Maria Sharapova has made her Twitter debut at the Australian Open, and she's tweeting on THE trend of this year's tournament.

``Everyone got dressed in the same closet, wearing yellow on court at the aus open,'' she tweeted Tuesday. It was only her second posting and she already had more than 50,000 followers.

Yellow is hands down the color of choice among players - or rather, sponsors - at this year's Australian Open. Yellow sneakers, yellow shorts, yellow dresses, yellow visors.

For fans in the upper decks, it can be hard to tell who's who on certain courts.

Former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki wore a white-and-pale yellow tennis dress designed as part of her Adidas line with Stella McCartney.

It was very similar to the white-and-pale yellow Nike dress on her opponent, German Sabine Lisicki. It didn't help that both wore visors over their blond ponytails. Wozniacki won and faces Donna Vekic of Croatia in the second round.

Some men were sporting yellow, too, including France's Gael Monfils whose fluorescent muscle T-shirt matched the tennis balls and was only slightly brighter than the yellow shirt of his 18th-seeded opponent Alexandr Dolgopolov.

``The colors are a joke,'' said 73rd-ranked Timea Babos of Hungary. ``It's the same for everyone - yellow, grey and white.''

She should know. Way out on Court 22, Babos played hard and lost to France's Kristina Mladenovic, 6-3, 4-6, 11-9 in a nearly three-hour battle against a player who looked like her mirror image.

The two wore identical yellow tank dresses with white and gray trim - which provided some comic relief, Babos said, smiling through tears after her loss.

``Having the same outfit was hilarious,'' she said, adding that it was the talk of the locker room. ``Everyone was joking about it. They said, `It doesn't matter, you look better.'''

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ADVICE FROM CHINA: French Open champion Li Na had some advice for her close friend and compatriot Wu Di the night before he made history by becoming the first Chinese man to play in the singles draw of a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era.

``Last night before I go to bed I get a text message from her,'' said Wu, who is from Li's hometown of Wuhan and frequently practices with her. ``She told me, `Don't be nervous. Don't think about tennis. Just go to bed. Your answer will be tomorrow, not tonight. So, don't think about anything else.'''

Li speaks from experience. She became the first Asian player to reach a Grand Slam final at the 2011 Australian Open and then the first Asian winner of a Grand Slam at Roland Garros.

Wu, ranked 186th in the world, lost his first-round match Tuesday at Melbourne Park against Croatia's Ivan Dodig, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. But he the 21-year-old who mostly plays on the lower-level Challenger and Futures circuits fought hard.

The speedy Wu kept points lively as he ran down Dodig's heavy forehands and drop shots and forced the Croatian player into countless errors. When he broke Dodig's serve to go up 5-4 in the second set, his red-clad Chinese supporters in the stands broke into a raucous cheer: ``Jia you, Wu Di,'' which roughly translates as ``Let's go, Wu Di.''

Frenchman David Moreau, Wu's coach for the past eight months, said the Chinese player has the game to compete in more Grand Slams but he needs to be more decisive and aggressive on court.

``Of course, he needs to improve his serve. He's a short guy, but he's been improving a lot already. And now it's going to be about moving forward into the court,'' he said.

Wu is aiming to qualify for the French Open men's draw next, but isn't so optimistic about his chances.

``Of course, I want to participate two Grand Slams in a row, but red clay is not my strongest surface,'' he said.

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ANDY'S NEW LOOK: Andy Murray has had to explain that his chest is not more muscular, it just looks that way because he's wearing a tighter shirt this year.

Since Murray started working with coach Ivan Lendl, he has certainly bulked up.

``Most of the weight that I put on is in my legs. But the T-shirt I'm wearing is tighter,'' said the stolid Scotsman, when told he seemed to be filling out his shirt better this year.

In his mumbling monotone, the 25-year-old added: ``It's not that I'm any bigger in my upper body. It's just because of the tightness of the T-shirt, maybe it appears that way.''

Third-ranked Murray advanced to the second round at the Australian Open on Tuesday, beating Robin Haase of the Netherlands in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.

It was his first Grand Slam match since his career-changing win at the U.S. Open in September, which came shortly after he won the men's gold medal at the London Olympics.

He attributes much of his success to Lendl. During an on-court interview he joked that Lendl is relaxed ``in front of the cameras, yeah,'' but, ``behind closed doors he works me very hard.''

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A TRUE FAN: It was a first-round match so important for Caroline Wozniacki that it kept her golf star boyfriend, Rory McIlroy, awake at night.

The former No. 1-ranked Wozniacki came back from 3-0 down in the final set to win the last six games of the match against big-hitting Lisicki 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

McIlroy got up at 3 a.m. to watch from Abu Dhabi, where he's preparing to play in this weekend's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships. He was coming off a busy day himself after the announcement of his lucrative multi-year contract with Nike.

Of course, the multimillion dollar golf contract became a topic of conversation.

``It wasn't really a big surprise to me. I kind of knew,'' she said to laughter in her post-match press conference. ``I felt bad for him because I think he went to bed at midnight their time and woke up at 3 and watched me and then back to sleep for a couple of hours.''

``That's a true fan,'' she added.

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Associated Press writer Justin Bergman contributed to this report.

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Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

Wizards' John Wall reveals he's about to start jogging in rehab from Achilles injury

A couple of weeks ago, John Wall was spotted at a Washington Mystics game with no brace to support his Achilles injury, a sign that his rehab from the injury was moving in the right direction. 

On Monday night at the 2019 NBA Awards, the Wizards point guard gave affirmation that he is indeed continuing to get healthier and stronger.

"I feel great, man," Wall told NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on the red carpet. "I'm doing a great job with my body, taking care of that."

Specifically, Wall has been able to slowly increase what he can do on his legs. The recovery and rehab for an injury as severe as his is a long road, and the point guard is making sure not to speed up the process and risk hindering the progress. However, he's about to reach a pretty big milestone in the journey during the coming weeks.

"I'm about to start jogging in like two weeks. Just riding the bike, I get to do exercises standing up now, so I don't have to sit down. I'm able to move, do ladder steps, doing those types of things," Wall said. "Just taking my time and progressing and letting everything heal the right way so I don't force myself back and get another injury."

As Wall continues to work to get back on the court, he's had plenty of motivational factors pushing him through some grueling months. His recent string of injuries have left some wondering if he'll still be an elite player when he finally.

He's heard those comments and he's using them to his advantage.

"I'm one of those guys that's very driven by all the hate and all the negative talk I'm getting. Keep it going," Wall said.

"Everybody said I can't be myself, I won't be nowhere near as good again. That's all the other stuff that's going to fuel me. I don't get upset about it, you're entitled to your own opinion. Please keep it going."

The haters have given Wall some extra juice, but so has his son Ace. Spending the offseason getting right has allowed Wall to work in another area of life: fatherhood.

The newest addition to his family has taken his desire for greatness to new heights.

"I've always had that drive that I want to be the greatest. To have a son like that, that's watching everything I can do. Even though he doesn't understand what's going on, he's putting memories in his head," Wall said. 

"So that gives me extra, extra motivation to another level I never thought I could. Like I said before, that's the best blessing a man could ever ask for is to have a son."

While Wall's offseason has been a busy one as he juggles rehab and being a dad, he's still been very involved in everything going on inside the franchise.

He's already chatted with first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura, and is excited for what is to come for the Wizards. Wall is also hoping that Hachimura will help improve his Japanese so that he can grow a larger following internationally. 

As the calendar slowly turns to July, both Wall and the Wizards' offseasons will ramp up. It's been an up and down time for both lately, but he's excited about the future.

"I think it's good," Wall said about the Wizards situation. "We added some pieces. See what we do in free agency to add some guys to bring back or we're going to go after somebody new. I think we'll be fine."

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Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

Bradley Beal wins the 2019 NBA Cares Community Assist Award three years after John Wall

While he was putting together the best season of his career, Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal was also making a profound impact off the court and those efforts have earned him a significant honor, the NBA's 2018-19 Community Assist Award.

The news was revealed at Monday's NBA Awards in Santa Monica, CA as Beal got the nod over nine other finalists. He is the second Wizards player to win the honor in just the last four years following John Wall in 2015-16.

Beal was involved in a variety of charitable efforts this past season. He has partnered with the Ron Brown College Preparatory High School in Northeast Washington to help underprivileged youth. He visited the school in December and gave out shoes.

During the All-Star break in February, as he made his second appearance in the annual showcase, Beal handed out meals at a food bank alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. This past year he also gave out Christmas presents in the Washington area and took a group of kids on a tour of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Beal was named a finalist for the Community Assist Award in April along with Jarrett Allen (Nets), Mike Conley (Jazz), Khris Middleton (Bucks), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Dwight Powell (Mavs) and Pascal Siakam (Raptors). Part of the criteria was based on fan voting through social media that was held from April 24 through May 25.

Beal, 25, continues to ascend on the court as well. This year he posted career-highs in points (25.6/g), assists (5.5/g) and rebounds (5.0/g). He nearly made All-NBA in late May with the most votes of any guard that was left out.

In Beal and Wall, the Wizards have quite the combination. Both have been All-Stars on the court and now both can say they won the NBA's top honor for charity work as well.

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