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Wozniacki, Stosur, Ivanovic gain Kremlin Cup semis

Wozniacki, Stosur, Ivanovic gain Kremlin Cup semis

MOSCOW (AP) Ana Ivanovic and Samantha Stosur won in straight sets Friday, setting up a semifinal showdown at the Kremlin Cup.

Ivanovic beat Vesna Dolonc 6-4, 6-1, and the top-seeded Stosur defeated Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-3.

Stosur won six consecutive games in the first set but trailed 3-1 in the second set. She recovered with a break in the sixth game and later served out the match at love.

The 2011 U.S. Open champion from Australia will play the 2008 French Open champion on Saturday.

Earlier, Caroline Wozniacki struggled to beat defending champion Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-7 (1), 6-1. Wozniacki, another former No. 1 player, won four consecutive games in the first set and later took advantage of an ailing Cibulkova, who was playing with her right hip bandaged. She took a medical timeout while trailing 2-1 in the third set.

``The difference at the end was that I just could keep my highest level up to the end and I managed to win most of the important points, especially at the beginning of the third set,'' Wozniacki said.

The 11th-ranked Wozniacki, who finished the last two seasons at No. 1 on the WTA rankings, still has a chance to overtake Marion Bartoli of France at No. 10 by the end of the season if she wins titles in Moscow and at the season-ending Tournament of Champions.

In her seventh semifinal this season, Wozniacki will face Sofia Arvidsson of Sweden.

The 46th-ranked Arvidsson, who is looking for her second title this season, broke twice in each set to eliminate the only Russian left at the Kremlin Cup, seventh-seeded Maria Kirilenko, 6-3, 6-3.

``Maria is a tough player,'' Arvidsson said, ``you have to play at your best to beat her.''

In the men's tournament, second-seeded Andreas Seppi of Italy advanced to the semifinals by beating Tatsuma Ito of Japan 6-2, 6-1.

Seppi, who won his second career title in Belgrade in May, will play Malek Jaziri, who became the first Tunisian to reach an ATP semifinal when he beat Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 7-6 (5), 6-3.

``I hope I'm lucky enough to make my first ATP final,'' Jaziri said. ``But anyway, I'm already happy with my performance here.''

Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic had 23 aces to beat French qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6 (4), 6-3.

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Bradley Beal was the first guard cut from the All-NBA teams

Bradley Beal was the first guard cut from the All-NBA teams

Bradley Beal missed out on an All-NBA selection, and therefore, qualification for a supermax contract. Voting tallies show he received the most votes among guards that missed the cut. 

That's small consolation for the only player to average 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists this year, but still not make the All-NBA team. 

Here's a look at just how close Beal came to Kemba Walker, the last guard to sneak in. 

Walker (51 points) beat out Beal (34 points) more narrowly than at any other position. Klay Thompson received 27 points. 

It's rare air to be ranked so closely with guards like Walker and three-time champion Thompson.

Still, that hardly makes up for the earning potential the Wizards star missed out on this summer.

Damian Lillard, who was drafted in the same year as Beal, made second team All-NBA and qualified for a $191 million supermax contract from the Trail Blazers. 

That's a big-money difference for a very close voting tally.

On the flip side, that could mean the Wizards can afford to hang onto Beal. They would have had a difficult time offering him a supermax contract given their current salary cap situation. 

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If the Nationals’ season isn’t over, it’s close

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If the Nationals’ season isn’t over, it’s close

NEW YORK -- Dealing with tomorrow has often become the only palatable way for the Nationals to forget yesterday.

They lose in eye-gouging fashion, roll in the next day to reset, and, at least in New York, find a topper. That formula has them on a train home from what could have been a series for re-emergence, but instead placed them in a worse place than they started. Washington is 19-31 following a sweep in Flushing. It would have to go 71-41 (a .634 winning percentage) to reach 90 wins. If it’s not already, the season is on the verge of being over.

A slog-filled drive from midtown to Queens delivered the tired team back to its baseball quarters Thursday morning. Sean Doolittle changed then pulled his red hood up, sitting at his locker 10 hours after he stated he was “disgusted” with himself for Wednesday’s crash. Such a devastating night has been common for the 2019 Nationals. It was not for Doolittle. He hit a batter for the first time since May 29, 2018. He allowed four earned runs in an outing for the fifth time in 348 career appearances (1.4 percent of the time he pitches). In keeping with the season, the worst-possible outcome arrived at the worst-possible time, then another terrible one followed.

Martinez remained upbeat, sipping a morning drink concoction common in his native Puerto Rico. He rewatched Wednesday's game -- a masochist’s errand this season -- as he regularly does, went to sleep around 2 a.m., awoke at 7, arrived at Citi Field around 9:45. The leash on his future has been shortened greatly by the four failing days in New York.  

The Nationals wandered out for stretch and light throwing in front of an oddball scene. Thursday was “Weather Day” at Citi Field with the Big Apple-famous Mr. G hosting in his Mets jersey. Mr. G  -- known to his friends as Irv Gikofsy, New York City’s most popular weatherman -- kicked up a “Let’s go Mets!” chant down the third base line while the Nationals relievers ran routes and caught a foam football to get loose in the same part of the park. The recently re-emerged Mrs. Met, who popped back up in 2013 after decades of dormancy, used her giant noggin to nod along.

The game was another compilation of missed opportunities, bullpen disasters and bad luck. Washington left eight runners on base through the first six innings alone. The Mets’ path to runs was aided by slop and basics. Carlos Gomez single in the fifth. He ran to steal second, Yan Gomes’ throw went into center field, Gomez went on to third base. A sacrifice fly scored him.

J.D. Davis singled in the sixth. Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch. Stephen Strasburg’s wild pitch moved them both over. Another sacrifice fly scored one, a Wilson Ramos infield single scored the other. The Mets led, 3-1.

The Nationals didn’t score with runners on first and third and one out in the first. They did not score after Juan Soto’s leadoff triple in the second inning. They did not score after a one-out double in the third. They did not score with runners on second and third and one out in the fourth. They did not score with a runner on second and one out in the fifth. This is not hyperbole for effect. It’s facts. Sigh-worthy ones.

The only effective offseason signings are Kurt Suzuki and Patrick Corbin. The others have not just resided below expectations, they have been among the worst in the league at their position.

Gomes, acquired in a trade, leads the league in passed balls. He’s committed three errors in his 29 starts. Coming into Thursday, he had a 65 OPS-plus (100 is average).

Brian Dozier started the afternoon with a 73 OPS-plus and -0.5 WAR. Those two numbers would be worse if not for a recent uptick both in the field and plate from him.

And, the most egregious failure of the offseason has been Trevor Rosenthal’s saga. Martinez was asked directly Wednesday if Rosenthal simply has the “yips”. He said they still believe Rosenthal’s problems are mechanics, not thoughts, despite him throwing baseballs to the backstop in central Pennsylvania. The luxury-tax averse Nationals are paying him $6 million to do so.

Finally, Thursday was enough for Martinez to shed his tranquility. After Howie Kendrick was ejected in the top of the eighth, Martinez ran to home plate to start an argument of his own. He half-circled home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman, yelled, pointed and carried on in a manner that begged Dreckman to throw him out. He did. Martinez went from rankled to furious. He spiked his hat, kicked the dirt, and yelled some more. The event provided his third career ejection and looked to be among the final moves of a manager on the verge of returning to private life.

A strange thing followed: his team rallied for three runs to take a 4-3 lead. No matter. There’s no goodness Washington’s bullpen can’t undermine. Wander Suero gave up a three-run homer in the eighth to Gomez. New day, different reliever, same ear-bleeding outcome.

Which again made talking about tomorrow the only way to deal with the grotesqueness of today. Trouble now is tomorrow may not matter any more.

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