Nationals

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 held off Andy Murray on Wednesday at the ATP finals.

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

``Another great match. Another great performance from both of us,'' said Djokovic, who has known Murray since they were 11 years old. ``I didn't expect anything less, other than a tough match that went down the wire and was decided in the last point.''

Despite the win, Djokovic still hasn't advanced to the semifinals at the season-ending tournament for the top eight players in the world. Tomas Berdych beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in the late Group B match, keeping all four players alive in the tournament.

On Friday, Djokovic will face Berdych, while Murray will take on Tsonga.

Djokovic is 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 leads the third-ranked Murray 10-7 in head-to-head meetings.

``I think both of us probably see each other's games pretty well. Especially this year, because we've played so much,'' Murray said. ``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.''

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.

``I don't think I played bad in the first set. It was him playing really well, serving extremely well,'' Djokovic said. ``He lost only couple of points on his first serve throughout the whole set. So that says enough about his quality.''

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. 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.

The Scot's biggest win, however, 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.

Djokovic's big year came in 2011, when he won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. But now they're both major champions, and holding their own against Federer and Rafael Nadal, the two players who have had a monopoly of tennis rivalries for nearly a decade.

Now may be the time for them to step aside and let Djokovic and Murray reign supreme.

``Hopefully this rivalry will evolve,'' Djokovic said, ``and we can have many more great matches on the tour.''

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National League All-Star Game Roster Projection: How it will all break down

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USA Today Sports

National League All-Star Game Roster Projection: How it will all break down

In less than a month, the 2018 MLB All-Star game will take place at Nationals Park.

There are plenty of details that still need ironing out, but none are more important than the 64 players that will be taking the field at the Midsummer Classic.

Surely the Washington Nationals are hoping that many of their hometown stars will make the cut.

So, lets clear the air. How are the MLB All-Star rosters created? Well it is a combination of the fan vote, the player ballots, and the MLB Commissioners Office. No, it is not a 33-33-33 split, but rather a political (yet fair) process. Here is how it shakes out for there to be 32 players on each team:

  • Fan vote: eight position players in NL/ nine in AL (DH); plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 16 players in NL; 17 players in AL (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players) and five AL players (four pitchers, one position player)

Keep in mind, the MLB Commissioner’s Office merely is just there to ensure that there is one representative from all 30 MLB teams. Additionally, the player’s ballots are generally in-line with statistics and name recognition.

So let’s see how this shakes out for the National League All-Star Game roster. This factors in the latest fan vote returns:

National League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Buster Posey, Giants (Fan Vote), Wilson Contreras, Cubs (Player Ballot)
1B – Freddie Freeman, Braves (Fan Vote), Jose Martinez, Cardinals (Player Ballot), Justin Bour, Marlins (Commissioner’s Office)
2B – Ozzie Albies, Braves (Fan Vote), Scooter Gennett, Reds (Player Ballot)
3B – Nolan Arenado, Rockies (Fan Vote), Kris Bryant, Cubs (Player Ballot)
SS – Brandon Crawford, Giants (Fan Vote), Chris Taylor, Dodgers (Player Ballot)
OF – Nick Markakis, Braves (Fan Vote), Bryce Harper, Nationals (Fan Vote), Matt Kemp (Fan Vote), Albert Almora Jr., Cubs (Player Ballot), Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (Player Ballot), Corey Dickerson, Pirates (Player Ballot), David Peralta, Diamondbacks (Commissioner’s Office), Christian Yelich (Commissioner’s Office)

SP – Max Scherzer, Nationals (Player Ballot), Sean Newcomb, Braves (Player Ballot), Jon Lester, Cubs (Player Ballot), Aaron Nola, Phillies (Player Ballot), Jacob deGrom, Mets (Player Ballot), Mike Foltynewicz, Braves (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Brad Hand, Padres (Player Ballot), Sean Doolittle, Nationals (Player Ballot), Josh Hader Brewers (Player Ballot), Wade Davis, Rockies (Commissioner’s Office), Kenley Jansen (Commissioner’s Office), Jeremy Jeffress (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Dave Roberts, Dodgers

After this, there will be one more player chosen by another fan vote. The MLB Commissioner’s Office, along with the manager, choses five players to be selected in the penultimate vote. 

This puts three Nationals on the All-Star team with the Braves leading the charge with five selections.

Now of course nothing ever goes to plan, but heck its baseball, not everyone will be happy.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

Less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup, the Caps are in need of a new head coach.

Barry Trotz resigned as the Caps coach on Monday after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. How did we get here and where do both parties go from here? JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break it all down.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.