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Top-ranked Djokovic holds off Murray at ATP finals

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Top-ranked Djokovic holds off Murray at ATP finals

LONDON (AP) In what is shaping up to be the new top rivalry in tennis, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray whacked the ball for three more grueling sets Wednesday at the ATP finals.

Advantage, Djokovic.

The top-ranked Serb got the big break when he needed it late in the third set and held off Murray 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 at the O2 Arena.

``I think both of us probably see each other's games pretty well. Especially this year, because we've played so much,'' said Murray, who beat Djokovic to win his first major title at the U.S. Open. ``But the one thing I would say is, this year I think both of us probably have seen things in each other's games probably improve, and that's why there's a lot of long rallies, and the matches are incredibly tight.''

Despite the win, Djokovic still hasn't advanced to the semifinals at the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world. But he can make it through if Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeats Tomas Berdych in the other Group B match later Wednesday.

Djokovic is now 4-3 against Murray in 2012, with his biggest win coming in a five-setter in the Australian Open semifinals. But Murray had won two of the previous three, including in the semifinals of the Olympics and in the U.S. Open final - another five-setter.

Overall, Djokovic now leads the third-ranked Murray 10-7 in head-to-head meetings.

``I'd say our strengths are similar in terms of what we do well on the court,'' Murray said. ``Our return game has been very strong for the last few years. Our movement, as well. That's why there's a lot of normally long rallies.''

Murray looked unbeatable at the start Wednesday, breaking Djokovic in the first game and losing only three points on his serve in the first set.

But Djokovic was able to convert break chances in each of the next two sets, and then for a third time at 5-5 in the final set to serve out the match.

Djokovic still didn't have an easy time as Murray quickly earned two break points in the final game. But a forehand smash and a service winner erased the danger before a pair of errors from Murray ended the match.

``The last two minutes of the match probably is what decided it,'' Murray said. ``He broke from 15-40, and then I had 15-40 next game and didn't break. So that was the moment that decided the match.''

Murray has had a breakthrough season this year. He became the first British man since 1938 to reach the Wimbledon final, and soon after won the Olympic gold medal by beating Roger Federer on the same grass at the All England Club.

Murray's biggest win came in September when he became the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win a major tennis title with the victory over Djokovic at the U.S. Open.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Early favorites for Wizards' 1st round pick; Mark Turgeon joins the show

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Early favorites for Wizards' 1st round pick; Mark Turgeon joins the show

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon at the NBA Combine.

Turgeon talked about his three draft-eligible players and what this time is like advising them. Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their early favorites for the Wizards' first round pick and their biggest takeaways from the NBA Combine measurements.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Redskins G Arie Kouandjio likely out for the season

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Redskins G Arie Kouandjio likely out for the season

The news about Arie Kouandjio’s quad injury didn’t sound good when NBC Sports Washington broke it a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t sound any better when Jay Gruden said that they were seeking a second opinion. 

And now we have word that Kouandjio will be out for the season, per multiple media reports. While there was some initial hope that he might be able to play at some point this season, he is likely to be put on injured reserve soon. 

The corresponding move is expected to be the signing of guard Isaiah Williams, per JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington. He spent training camp with the Redskins in 2016 and 2017 before being released in the final cuts. Last year he also spent time with the Chiefs and the Colts but he has yet to appear in an NFL game. 

At worst, the Redskins have lost their starter at left guard. Kouandjio was set to compete with Shawn Lauvao for that job. Lauvao, who has been the starter at left guard going into the season for each of the last four years, would have been tough to unseat, but the 26-year-old Kouandjio may have had the inside track.

And at best, the Redskins lost experienced depth. Last year, when injuries hit hard along the offensive line, Kouandjio was re-signed and he started six games. It’s tough to lose experienced depth before the players even put pads on.

We will see if the Redskins make a move to shore up the guard position. Over the next couple of weeks, teams will be evaluating their veteran players and their rookies to see if they have younger and cheaper options. That could lead to some serviceable players getting released or some quality options being put on the trading block. 

The Redskins likely are set to get four compensatory draft picks in 2019, which would give them a total of 11 selections. They certainly could afford to deal one of those picks if they are offered a chance to upgrade at left guard. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.