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US Open adds extra day in 2013; men's final Monday

US Open adds extra day in 2013; men's final Monday

The U.S. Open tennis tournament is moving the women's final to Sunday and men's final to Monday in 2013, building in a day of rest ahead of each title match for the first time.

The U.S. Tennis Association, which runs the Grand Slam event played in New York, announced the changes Friday - but only for next year.

A decision about 2014 and beyond probably will come after the 2013 tournament, USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said.

Rain forced the USTA to postpone the men's final from its scheduled Sunday slot to Monday each of the past five years.

Some top male players complained that the U.S. Open was the sport's only major tournament that put their semifinals and final on consecutive days. The men's semifinals in New York will stay on Saturday under the new plan.

Friday's moves end the tradition of what the U.S. Open has called ``Super Saturday'' since 1984, with both men's semifinals and the women's final all on that day's schedule at Flushing Meadows, followed by the men's final Sunday.

Wimbledon, the French Open and Australian Open follow another pattern: women's semifinals Thursday, men's semifinals Friday, women's final Saturday, men's final Sunday. The U.S. Open now joins the French Open - which starts and ends on Sundays - as 15-day Grand Slam tournaments.

As part of the new schedule, the USTA is scrapping its Saturday night session in 2013; the women's final had been played in prime time since 2001.

Now the women's final will be in the old men's final time slot, 4 p.m. ET on Sunday. The men's final will be at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 9. Both will remain on CBS. The tournament will start on Aug. 26.

The USTA also announced Friday that total prize money in 2013 will jump $4 million to a record $29.5 million. The increase is the largest in tournament history, doubling the roughly $2 million hike from 2011 to 2012.

The USTA has not decided how the new money will be distributed.

``Both the prize money increase and the addition of a day of rest are great for the players,'' four-time U.S. Open champion Serena Williams said in a statement issued via the USTA. ``These moves make the tournament stronger than it's ever been for all players.''

Williams' title in New York this year, her 15th at a major tournament, came on a Sunday, the fourth time in the past five years the women's final was delayed a day because of rain.

Unlike at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, the U.S. Open does not have a roof to protect any court used for tournament matches. It's also the only Grand Slam tournament that has been scheduling two men's semifinals a day before the men's final, which leaves less room for scheduling flexibility when there is disruptive weather.

``We listened to the players and understood we needed to accommodate their request for an extra day of rest between the semifinals and final. ... The USTA reached out to many of the top players, player agents, as well as the respective tours,'' Widmaier said.

``So far, everything has been fairly positive. The day of rest is being embraced across the board,'' he added. ``Because of the nature of the game, and to assure a final that can be played at the highest competitive level, you need an extra day of rest. We recognized that.''

In a statement released by the USTA, 2012 champion Andy Murray said: ``I'm pleased that the USTA has modified the U.S. Open schedule to include a day of rest between the semifinals and final. Together with the prize money increase, it's good that they've taken on board the players' concerns.''

Widmaier said the tournament still needs to figure out on which days the men's, women's and mixed doubles finals will be played next year. One reason for the need to reschedule: The women's doubles championship match has been on Sunday in the past, but can't be in 2013, with the singles shifting to that day.

``We appreciate the USTA's announcement of increased prize money and 40 years of equal compensation for the athletes of our sport,'' WTA CEO Stacey Allaster said. ``The changes made for the 2013 U.S. Open are steps in the right direction.''

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Connect with Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

2017-18 Wizards roster review: Jodie Meeks

To wrap up the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we evaluate Jodie Meeks' season...

Player: Jodie Meeks

Position: Shooting guard

Age: 30

2017-18 salary: $3.3 million

2017-18 stats: 77 G, 14.5 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.9 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.1 bpg, 39.9 FG%, 34.3 3P%, 86.3 FT%, 49.1 eFG%, 111 ORtg, 112 DRtg

Best game: 11/29 at Sixers - 21 points, 4 rebounds, assist, steal, 5-for-11 FG, 3-for-6 3PT, 8-for-9 FT

Season review: The Wizards took a flier on Jodie Meeks last summer in what seemed at the time to be a low-risk contract with a potentially high reward, if he could stay healthy and play to his career norms. They were in obvious need of help at backup shooting guard and three-point shooting for their bench.

Meeks fell short of those expectations for a variety of reasons. Though he stayed healthy for the first time in years, he could not make shots at the clip the Wizards were hoping for. His field goal percentage was not far off from what he posted in recent years, but his three-point percentage was nowhere near the 38.8 percent he shot in his previous four seasons.

Meeks bottomed out midseason, shooting 28.9 percent from three in December and 28 percent in January. Those numbers ticked up beginning in February, but Meeks never fully gained the trust of his coaching staff. He rarely got hot enough to alter games and his best stat-lines often came in blowouts. 

There was a domino effect from Meeks' struggles, as starting shooting guard Bradley Beal had no one to spell him. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any NBA player this season.

For Meeks personally, it was a bittersweet year because staying healthy was no small feat. He had a run of bad luck and finally broke out of it this season. On the other hand, he never made the impact he felt he was capable of and that wasn't easy for a guy joining a new team and a new locker room.

Meeks' 2017-18 season was ultimately defined by more than his shooting woes. First, he expressed interest in a trade in February and did not get his wish. Then, he was suspended for allegedy using performance-enhancing drugs after the regular season ended. He was out for the playoffs and will miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season without pay as he waits out a 25-game ban.

Meeks may or may not serve that suspension as a member of the Wizards. He has a player option for next season worth $3.5 million. He has yet to inform the team of his decision, but the expectation is that he will pick it up. Given how poorly his season went and ended, it would likely be the smart move financially for him to opt in and hope for better results next season.

Potential to improve: Shooting percentage, perimeter defense, passing

More player season reviews:

John Wall, PG

Bradley Beal, SG

Otto Porter, SF

Markieff Morris, PF

Marcin Gortat, C

Kelly Oubre, Jr., SF

Tomas Satoransky, PG

Ian Mahinmi, C

Ty Lawson, PG

Tim Frazier, PG

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Want the Stanley Cup? Five ways the Caps can beat the Golden Knights

Want the Stanley Cup? Five ways the Caps can beat the Golden Knights

The Caps stand just four wins away from winning their first Stanley Cup. To get those four wins, however, they will have to beat the Vegas Golden Knights.

Here are the keys to the series that will give the Caps the win.

Figure out how to beat Marc-Andre Fleury

No player has been as important to his team this postseason as Fleury is to the Golden Knights. He is reason No. 1, 2 and 3 why they have made their improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final in the team’s inaugural season.

Fleury’s personal numbers are staggering. Through 15 games, he has a .947 save percentage and has recorded four shutouts.

Vegas has been a middle of the pack team in terms of offense this postseason scoring 2.87 goals per game. They have lost only three playoff games thus far, but, as dominant as they have been, they certainly are not blowing away the competition. Of their 12 wins, ten of them have come with a margin of victory of two goals or less.

This shows you just how important Fleury is to their success. They are not scoring opponents into submission, rather they are relying on Fleury to keep opponents at bay.

Fleury is the absolute key to the Golden Knights’ success. It’s easier said than done, but if the Caps find a way to beat him consistently, Vegas becomes exponentially more beatable.

Win the neutral zone battle

Much of this series will be determined between the blue lines. The Golden Knights are an incredibly fast team.

Just to get to this point, the Caps had to beat two other speedy teams in the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. They did it primarily by slowing down the offense in the neutral zone with a 1-3-1 trap. With so many bodies defending in the neutral zone, opponents have struggled to break the puck cleanly into the Caps’ defensive zone. The Caps are cutting off passing and skating lanes, creating turnovers and generating odd-man breaks in the other direction by catching opponents’ defensemen playing too aggressively on the rush.

As fast as the Penguins and Lightning were, however, the Golden Knights are even faster. Will the trap be as effective against Vegas?

Limit obstruction penalties

When playing against a team with speed, penalties often become a major issue. When trying to defend against fast players, if you get caught flat-footed or out of position, this tends to lead to obstruction penalties like tripping and hooking. When a player realizes he’s been beat, he does everything he can to prevent that from costing his team, leading to those type of penalties.

Vegas’ power play has not been lights out by any means with a success rate of only 17.6-percent this postseason, but you cannot continually give the opposition chances to score by frequently having a player sent to the penalty box.

Positioning is going to make all the difference in the world in this series to make sure a player is not forced into taking an obstruction penalty just to slow down the Golden Knights.

Get off to good starts

Vegas is 10-1 in the postseason when scoring first. Their secret to success is a mix between goaltending and speed.

Fleury has been phenomenal in net and the Golden Knights are a quick breakout team. It is very hard to get much sustained offensive pressure against them because once they get the puck, they are going down the ice at a million miles an hour.

Having to play from behind against a team like Vegas is not a recipe for success. Just getting the puck and keeping up with them is exhausting. Having to then find a way to then beat Fleury when he has a lead to protect is all the more daunting.

Strong starts will be vital to ensuring the Caps are not frequently having to play from behind.

Depth scoring

Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant likes to roll his four lines. It makes sense since there drop-off between his top line and fourth line is not as dramatic as it is on most NHL teams.

Consider how this team was constructed. The expansion draft did not give Vegas access to superstar players, but they also did not have to take any fringe NHL/healthy scratch players to fill the fourth line either. They filled their roster with the best players available to them which gives them four lines of much more comparative strength than most NHL teams.

While this means the Caps have a stronger top six, it also allows Vegas to roll four lines and take advantage of other teams’ bottom six.

You can never take a shift off against Vegas. There is no weak line to exploit. The Golden Knights come at you with four lines and relentless pressure and forecheck for 60 minutes.

Washington will probably get more production from its top six than Vegas will, or at the very least it will be a push. The question is what kind of production will each team get from the bottom six? If the Caps have the edge in depth production as well, they will be in good shape.

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