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Williams sisters do double duty in Melbourne

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Williams sisters do double duty in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Serena Williams rolled her ankle and whacked herself in the lip with her racket. That doesn't mean she needs any extra rest.

A day after winning her third-round match against Ayumi Morita of Japan - her first-injury free round at this year's Australian Open - the No. 3-ranked Williams was back on the court Sunday to play alongside sister Venus.

The Williams sisters take doubles seriously, and that can mean skipping the rest day between singles matches. Venus has joked they have so many trophies they use some as fruit bowls.

The sisters have captured 13 major doubles titles, including four at the Australian Open. They've also won three Olympic gold medals for doubles.

So dominant are Venus and Serena, they've never lost in a Grand Slam doubles final they've contested. They've reached the final in seven of the last 10 major tournaments they've played.

``They mean a lot to me,'' Serena said earlier this week. ``I mean, people that are winning a lot of singles titles, nowadays, in the past decade or two decades, usually don't win as many in doubles. So I'm almost even with my singles and doubles.''

Serena has 15 Grand Slam singles titles, while Venus has seven.

Because they tend to play doubles only in the slams, the sisters don't have high rankings in the event. This means they usually have a low seeding - much to the chagrin of the top-ranked doubles teams in the world.

The Williams sisters were seeded 12th at the Australian Open, which led to an early third-round encounter with the unlucky fifth-seeded team of Nadia Petrova and Katarina Srebotnik on Sunday. The sisters won 6-2, 6-3.

Serena may be the more accomplished singles player in the family - Venus lost her second-round singles match to No. 2 Maria Sharapova - but on the doubles court she defers to her older sister.

``She serves first. She's been the leader since we played back in the `80s when we were juniors,'' Serena said, nodding to Venus, after their win Sunday. ``I'm not comfortable being the leader; I don't want to be the leader.''

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MOVING ON UP: David Ferrer will bypass injured Rafael Nadal to reach No. 4 in the rankings after the Australian Open, but he still doesn't feel he's that close to the Big Four of men's tennis.

Ferrer, ranked fifth at the end of the last two years, is one of the best active players never to have won a major title. The Spaniard has been close. He's reached semifinals three times, including twice last year, but has never been in a final.

The Big Four - Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Nadal and now Andy Murray - have combined to win 33 of the last 34 major tournaments. Only Juan Martin del Potro has broken the stranglehold to win one at the 2009 U.S. Open.

Now, Ferrer may have his best shot.

He's coming off a career-best 2012 season in which he won seven titles - more than any of the Big Four. And countryman Nadal is absent from this year's Australian Open because of injury and illness.

After dismantling Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 on Sunday to reach the quarterfinals here for the third straight year, Ferrer was asked if he believes this is his year to finally raise a trophy.

``I don't know,'' Ferrer said. ``Is very difficult to win a Grand Slam because there are the top four. In this moment, the last three or four years, they are better than the other players.''

But does he feel he's closing the gap?

``No, no. I think the top four, they are better,'' he insisted.

``You have to play your best or more than best to beat these guys,'' he said. ``Hopefully, I can beat them in the Grand Slams sometime.''

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HELPING A FRIEND: Tennis greats are teaming up for a charity auction to raise money for retired player Andrew Florent, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

Among the items being auctioned are a private tennis lesson with Jim Courier and a doubles match against Pat Rafter and Goran Ivanisevic, Tennis Australia said in a statement.

Fans can bid for two seats at the so-called Legends Lunch on the Saturday of the women's final, which will be attended by Rod Laver and Andre Agassi.

Agassi, an eight-time Grand Slam winner who won his last major title at Melbourne Park in 2003, will also be taking part in the men's pre-final ceremony Sunday, tournament organizers said.

Among other items on the block are a pair of tickets to both the men's and women's final as well as a photo opportunity beside the men's winner Sunday.

The 42-year-old Florent, the 1988 runner-up at the Australian Open junior singles tournament, turned pro in 1990 and became a doubles specialist who achieved a career high ranking of 13th in 2001.

The statement described him as ``one of the most popular players on the tour.''

``This is terrible news, but what has heartened Florey and his family has been the outpouring of support from the entire tennis fraternity,'' said friend and former Australian player Paul Kilderry.

The online auction athttp://bit.ly/VQ3dBm. closes Thursday at 5:15 p.m. local time.

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Associated Press writer Jocelyn Gecker contributed to this report.

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Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

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USA TODAY Sports

Machado hits 2-run HR in 15th as Orioles beat Braves 10-7

ATLANTA -- For Braves manager Brian Snitker, playing the matchups meant pitching to Manny Machado with first base open and a marathon game on the line.

The Orioles slugger made that strategy look foolish.

Machado hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the 15th inning, lifting Baltimore to a 10-7 win over Atlanta on Friday night after each team staged dramatic ninth-inning rallies.

The Braves surrendered six runs in the ninth, and then scored four times in the bottom of the inning.

Peter Moylan, Atlanta's eighth pitcher, hit Craig Gentry to open the 15th. Gentry moved to second on Austin Wynns' sacrifice.

With first base open, the Braves pitched to Machado and he responded with his 19th homer, a drive into the Orioles' bullpen in left.

Snitker said the right-handed Moylan is tough on right-handed hitters but acknowledged "you hate like hell (Machado) is one of them."

Machado said an intentional walk "crossed my mind at first. I thought they were. In that situation they probably had faith in Moylan out there that he could get some ground balls to the left side of the infield."

Machado hit a 0-2 slider Moylan said was "supposed to be middle in." Moylan said the pitch "slipped out of my hand and ended up middle middle."

Moylan (0-1) gave up another run on singles by Colby Rasmus and Jonathan Schoop.

Mike Wright Jr. (1-0), Baltimore's seventh pitcher, threw two scoreless innings.

The game lasted 5 hours, 21 minutes.

The Orioles trailed 3-1 heading into the ninth, and the Braves rallied against closer Zach Britton in the bottom of the inning. Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino was not used while Dan Winkler allowed four runs while recording only one out.

Snitker said he rested Vizcaino because of shoulder soreness and he might be available on Saturday.

Chris Davis hit a drought-breaking homer and drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly as Baltimore opened a 7-3 lead.

Britton got one out and was charged with four runs and five hits. He gave up a single to Johan Camargo and a double to Danny Santana before hitting Ender Inciarte to load the bases.

Ozzie Albies' bases-loaded single drove in Camargo. Freddie Freeman's two-run single cut the lead to one before Nick Markakis tied the game with a double to right field.

Atlanta had jumped in front on Charlie Culberson's tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth.

Davis, making his first start since June 11, hit his first homer since May 9 in the fifth. Camargo tied the game with his run-scoring double in the seventh.

Braves left-hander Sean Newcomb allowed five hits in seven innings.

Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb permitted four hits in seven innings

The start of the game was delayed 11 minutes by rain.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Roster competition, Brown vs. Pryor

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 23, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins  and NBC Sports Washington.

Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense—NFL coaches and others like to tell you that competition determines who wins roster spots in the league. And that may be true to an extent. But many roster spots are predetermined by a player’s contract situation and/or draft status. It is unlikely that an undrafted player like Fish Smithson will win a roster spot over Troy Apke even if the former outperforms the latter in every way during training camp. Apke was a fourth-round pick and they aren’t going to give up on him in favor of an undrafted player. It would cost $3.2 million in dead cap to cut Stacy McGee and only $150,000 to move on from Ziggy Hood so McGee will win a “competition” that is even remotely close. (Offensive projection here)

Redskins will 'have it out' for Terrelle Pryor at training camp—While this is something that could add a little spice to the Jets’ visit to Richmond, don’t look for much of anything to happen. Zach Brown might give a little extra shove to Pryor here and there but he’s not going to do anything that will draw blood or even cause a deep bruise. If nothing else, a big hit on Pryor would invite retaliation by the Jets on Josh Doctson or Paul Richardson. And that might lead to more retaliation and you end up with a brawl like the Redskins and Texans had a couple of years ago.

Trent Williams very much of approves of Smith and Guice—Williams is going into his ninth NFL season and he has yet to be on the winning side of a playoff game. He thinks that Alex Smith and Derrius Guice can help change that. 

The curious case of Alex Smith and the NFL Top 100 list—I normally greet this list with a big yawn and this year was no exception. But I do find the omission of Smith, who led the NFL in passer rating and was third in adjusted net yards per attempt, odd. In an update to this post, the NFL released the names of the top 10 players and Smith is not on it. He shouldn’t be, but he should be somewhere on the 100, perhaps in the middle of the pack. The only Redskins player to appear on the list was Trent Williams at No. 57.

The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger—It’s likely that nine players who are 25 or younger will line up as starters for the Redskins this year. I don’t have a rundown of how that compares to the rest of the league but it’s notable that in the last two years six of them have replaced players who were either approaching age 30 or over it. I’ll engage in some speculation here and say that five of the young players—Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Preston Smith, Jonathan Allen, and Montae Nicholson—are good enough to potentially make a Pro Bowl at some point in their careers. 

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  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins defensive tackle Dave Butz was born on this date in 1950. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 33
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 70

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 78 days. 

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