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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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Capitals have been their own worst enemy, and they were again on Friday

Capitals have been their own worst enemy, and they were again on Friday

The Capitals managed to earn a point on Friday in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, but the game felt like a missed opportunity for Washington. After giving up four goals in the first period, seven power plays including two 5-on-3s, and two power play goals, the Caps knew they had no one to blame but themselves for the loss.

“We were still not quite there maybe emotionally,” Lars Eller said.

At least not for the first period. The Caps allowed four goals in the opening 20 minutes to dig themselves into a 4-1 hole. Each goal came from the slot as the Caps had no control over the front of their own net.

“Just tough to start that way, to kind of dig ourselves a big hole,” Brett Connolly said. “Obviously, it’s good to come back and get a point but we don’t need to do that to ourselves. It takes a lot of energy to get back in that game.”

Washington battled back to tie the game at 4, but penalties ultimately derailed their momentum, allowing Florida to retake the lead.

After scoring three straight goals, the Caps took three minor penalties in the final three minutes of the second period.

Alex Ovechkin was called for interference on Aaron Ekblad as he made no attempt to play a loose puck that trickled past the Florida defenseman. He was clearly focused on delivering the hit and nothing else.

Less than a minute later, Eller was caught on the ice a tad early, and Washington was called for too many men.

“I see Backy coming for a change, they had full possession,” Eller said. “I don't see behind my back, I think the guys are telling me he has one skate over so I think it was an unnecessary call, but what am I going to say? It's a tough one.”

With 1:15 of a two-man advantage to work with, Jonathan Huberdeau scored the go-ahead goal late in the period.

Even after a furious comeback, the Caps could not escape the second with the score tied because of the penalties.

Just 43 seconds after Huberdeau’s goal, Washington went right back to 5-on-3. Evgeny Kuznetsov was tossed from a faceoff by the linesman and argued the call, eventually earning himself an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

“He said something he shouldn't have said to the referee,” Reirden said of the call.

The Caps' penalty problems were exacerbated by the continued problems of the penalty kill.

Heading into Friday's game, Washington was only killing off 72.2 percent of the power plays they faced. They allowed another two power play goals Friday as they continued to struggle when facing the extra man.

“We have room for improvement for sure,” Reirden said of his penalty kill. “It’s a new system, new with the way we’re killing, its new personnel. We’re learning. We’re missing a key guy in Tom on that as well. It’s not easy, either, when you’re 5-on-3 when they’ve got talented players that can convert in that spot. It’s definitely a work in progress and I didn't expect it to go smoothly to start with. That’s one of the areas that we knew was gonna be new to our team this year and it’s gonna continue to take some work. It’s something that definitely is a work in progress.”

Mistakes put the Caps down 4-1, they put them down 5-4, they cost them a valuable point against a previously winless Panthers team before a four-game road trip through Canada, and they are ultimately why the defending Stanley Cup champions are only 3-2-2 to start the season.

And they know it.

“We’re still trying to find our game,” Connolly said. “Would we have liked to have picked up where we left off? Yes. But it’s not easy. We played a lot of hockey last year and a short summer and you come in here and there’s a lot of distractions, a lot of that kind of stuff. We’ve done some good things and we’ve done some not so good things.

"I think if you look at last season we weren't very good either at the start. We weren't at our best. Just take the positives and know that we can overcome that. It hasn’t been disastrous. We’re still getting points, we’re still above .500 right now with a tough couple back-to-backs to start the year. So not the worst start, but obviously we have another level.”

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Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

Panthers head coach calls for league to review Ovechkin’s hit to Pysyk

The Florida Panthers played over half of Friday’s game with five defensemen after a hit from Alex Ovechkin ultimately knocked Mark Pysyk out of the game.

Early in the second period, Ovechkin attempted to enter the offensive zone with the puck, but it was swept away at the blue line back to Pysyk. Pysyk quickly chipped the puck away and then was on the receiving end of a hit from Ovechkin.

In real time, the hit did not appear to be a big one. It wasn't even the biggest hit Ovechkin delivered in the game, as in the third period he sent Aleksander Barkov flying with a shoulder hit. But Pysyk went down to the ice after the hit and left the game soon after.

After the game, Florida head coach Bob Boughner did not mince words.

“Pysyk got a high hit to the head,” he said.

When asked if he thought the league should review the hit, Boughner said, “I hope they do because if you see the replay, it's high. It's a head shot. And the league's trying to clamp down on that. Whether there's no call, I don't blame the refs. Maybe they missed it. That happens. But those are the kind of plays that need to be reviewed.”

Based on the replay, it is hard to determine if the principal point of contact was the head. Ovechkin does not launch himself, but does appear to take an upward trajectory into Pysyk. Still, it seems like a hard sell to say Ovechkin was targeting the head.

But the hit did send Pysyk out of the game, and in today’s NHL, when head hits are a big topic of conversation and when a player is injured on a play, the NHL has shown it takes those plays more seriously.

Pysyk returned to the game for one more shift after receiving the hit, but left the game after and did not return.

“Right now we're still getting him checked out, but we'll see more in the morning,” Boughner said.

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