Great Britain ends 76 years of tennis pain

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Great Britain ends 76 years of tennis pain

From Comcast SportsNetLONDON (AP) -- After reveling in a rousing Olympic summer of sporting success, Britain awoke Tuesday to another major milestone: Finally, after 76 years of waiting, the country has a male Grand Slam tennis champion.Andy Murray's five-set victory over Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final Monday provided the perfect bookend to a summer in which a British rider won the Tour de France and British athletes scooped heaps of medals at the hugely successful London Olympics and Paralympics.After losing in four previous Grand Slam finals, Murray outlasted defending champion Djokovic 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 after nearly five hours to become the first British man to win a Slam since Fred Perry captured the Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships in 1936.At last, for Britain, the "Fred Perry curse" has been broken -- although until Murray wins Wimbledon, it won't be fully put to rest."Thank God that's over. Thank God we can let Fred Perry lie easy. Thank God for Andy Murray," wrote the Guardian newspaper website.Fittingly, Murray's breakthrough came in a year when Britain has enjoyed its greatest sports summer of a generation -- coinciding with national celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II's "Diamond Jubilee" of 60 years on the throne.In a message posted on Twitter, Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "delighted Andy Murray is continuing a golden summer of sport by winning the U.S. Open. A truly great victory."The summer began with Bradley Wiggins becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France. Then came the Olympics, where Britain recorded its best showing in 104 years with 29 gold medals (including Murray winning the men's singles) and 65 medals in all. Britain celebrated the close of the Paralympics on Sunday after winning 120 medals, including 34 gold.More than 1 million people lined the streets of London on Monday to cheer the nation's Olympians and Paralympians in a two-hour parade to mark the end of the 2012 Games.A few hours later, with most of the country asleep, Murray became the first man to win the U.S. Open and Olympic gold in the same year."The forecast of course was made yesterday that the great summer of British sport was over, but he's given us another immense prize to wake up to," said Cameron, speaking outside his Downing Street residence.The victory came on the exact day -- Sept. 10 -- that Perry won the U.S. title in 1936. It also came in Murray's fifth Grand Slam final, following in the footsteps of his coach, Ivan Lendl, who lost his first four Grand Slam finals before winning eight major titles.Nowhere was the impact of Murray's win felt more deeply than in his Scottish hometown of Dunblane, a cathedral town made infamous for a mass shooting in 1996, when a gunman killed 16 children and their teacher in an elementary school.A noisy crowd of about 80 people packed into the bar at the Dunblane Hotel to watch the match that ended shortly after 2 a.m. British time, cheering wildly when Djokovic hit a forehand service return long on the final point.Murray did most of his tennis training as a youth in Barcelona but remains fiercely loyal to his Scottish roots. Two other famous Scots -- actor Sean Connery and Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson -- were among those in the stands cheering him on at Flushing Meadows."Now Olympic and U.S. Open champion, Andy truly is a Scottish sporting legend and I'm certain that more Grand Slam titles will follow," Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said.The end of the match came too late for many British newspapers, but Murray's triumph made some late editions."History Boy!" blared the tabloid Daily Mirror on the front page. On the sports pages, the Mirror launched a campaign for a Murray knighthood: "Arise Sir Andy: Grand Slam Glory at Last. Oh What a Knight."British TV stations camped out early Tuesday at the modest tennis courts where Murray got his start as a young boy, interviewing youngsters who said they were inspired by his triumph.It's been a long time coming.Murray is one of only two men in the Open era, which began in 1968, to have lost his first four Grand Slam finals -- against Djokovic in the 2011 Australian Open, and against Roger Federer at the 2008 U.S. Open, 2010 Australian Open and this year's Wimbledon.It was Murray's decisive, straight-sets victory over Federer in the Olympic final in August on Centre Court at Wimbledon -- less than a month after the Wimbledon defeat -- that lifted his self-belief and provided the platform for his Grand Slam success."Ever since he won the Olympics, he has walked around with a lot more confidence," said Murray's former coach, Leon Smith. "After winning yesterday, it's going to do even more so now. For a great summer of British tennis, this is the icing on the cake."Former British player Greg Rusedski said Murray can only go higher."Having won this, he can go on to win many majors and maybe end the year as ... No. 1," he said.Murray is ranked No. 4 but is close behind No. 3 Rafael Nadal. Djokovic is No. 1 in this week's rankings, with Federer dropping to No. 2.Also crucial to Murray's success has been the influence of Lendl, the no-nonsense Czech-born coach who won two French Opens, two Australian Opens and three U.S. Opens."So much confidence has come from Andy's Olympics win and Lendl has added a great presence," said former British player Roger Taylor, a four-time Grand Slam semifinalist. "There is such a similarity (between the two). It will have given Andy more belief to see Ivan go on to win many Grand Slams and it took him five. He (Lendl) has made a great difference."For years, Murray has been considered just a rung below the "Big Three" of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, who had shared 29 of the previous 30 major titles. Now he's joined the club and Britain is rejoicing."We are all delighted for Andy," Wimbledon chairman Philip Brook said. "Winning your first Grand Slam has to be a very special moment in a player's career and it was a fantastic performance in an epic final to cap a truly memorable summer of tennis for him personally and for British tennis."Even more special would be lifting the Wimbledon trophy. In July, Murray became the first British man to reach the Wimbledon final in 74 years.The pursuit of Fred Perry is not quite over.

Zardes, Pulisic help US top Bolivia 4-0 in final Copa tuneup

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Zardes, Pulisic help US top Bolivia 4-0 in final Copa tuneup

By TATE STEINLAGE, Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Gyasi Zardes had his first two-goal international game, 17-year-old Christian Pulisic became the youngest American scorer in the modern era and the United States routed Bolivia 4-0 in an exhibition Saturday night to sweep its three warmup matches for next month's Copa America.

Zardes scored in the 26th and 52nd minutes around defender John Brooks' goal in the 37th. Pulisic, the youngest foreigner to score in the Bundesliga, got the final goal in the 69th minute. At 17 years, 253 days, he bettered the mark set by Juan Agudelo (17-359) against South Africa in 2010.

The 29th-ranked Americans had their largest victory margin against a South American opponent, beat opponents from that continent in consecutive matches for the first time and swept their three warmup matches by a combined 8-1 after defeating Puerto Rico and Ecuador.

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At the Copa America, the U.S. plays fourth-ranked Colombia on Friday in the opener at Santa Clara, California, then faces Costa Rica four days later at Chicago and closes the first round versus Paraguay on June 11 at Philadelphia.

Alejandro Bedoya assisted on the first two goals against 79th-ranked Bolivia.

The U.S. went ahead after Geoff Cameron played a 20-yard pass to Clint Dempsey, who flicked the ball to Bedoya on the right flank. He in turn lofted a one-touch pass over a shoulder of Zardes, who streaked past defender Nelson Cabrera and let the ball take a bounce. Zardes one-timed a right-footed shot from 19 yards over onrushing goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra, who was making his international debut.

Brooks doubled the lead after U.S. captain Michael Bradley rolled a through pass on a free kick from 35 yards out to Bedoya, who burst past Carmelo Algaranaz and from the corner of the 6-yard box made a sliding cutback pass in front of the goal. Brooks, 21, redirected the ball in with his left foot from 7 yards for his third international goal. Brooks scored late against Ghana to win the Americans' 2014 World Cup opener and also got a goal in an exhibition win at the Netherlands last year.

Zardes, 25, scored again after playing the ball back to Bradley in midfield. He lofted a pass to Bobby Wood on the left side of the goal, Wood crossed to Zardes, who beat defender Luis Gutierrez and scored again with his left foot, this time from 6 yards. Zardes has five goals in 26 national team appearances.

Pulisic, who made debuts for Borussia Dortmund in January and the U.S. in March, scored after Jermaine Jones forced a turnover. Jones exchanged passes with Darlington Nagbe, who ran past three Bolivians and rolled the ball into Pulisic's path. The teenager slid the ball to Viscarra's left from right of the penalty spot, causing many in the crowd of 8,894 to chant his name.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann shifted Matt Besler, normally a central defender, to left back in his starting lineup and started Michael Orozco at right back. Fabian Johnson replaced Besler at the start of the second half and DeAndre Yedlin came in for Orozco, joining Brooks and Cameron in central defense, the first time the likely back four for the match against Colombia played together. Cameron had not played since injuring a hamstring in Stoke's season finale on May 15.

Bedoya and Jones flanked Bradley, who dropped back in a defensive midfield role; Zardes and Wood played aside Dempsey; and Brad Guzan started his fourth straight match in goal, making the lineup for the first 18 minutes of the second half the possible starting 11 against Colombia. That array was broken up when Pulisic and Nagbe replaced Zardes and Bedoya.

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Gonzalez struggles for second straight outing as Nats fall to Cardinals

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USA TODAY Sports

Gonzalez struggles for second straight outing as Nats fall to Cardinals

Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 9-4 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday night at Nats Park. 

How it happened: The Cardinals offense didn't waste much time in this one, jumping on Nats starter Gio Gonzalez by building a 4-0 second-inning lead thanks to three straight two-out hits with men on base. Washington briefly got back in the game in the bottom of the frame as Ryan Zimmerman launched a two-run home run to cut the deficit to 4-2. 

However, the tough times continued for Gonzalez. He promptly yielded a solo shot to Matt Holliday in the third, and then in the fifth gave up an RBI double to Randal Grichuk to make it 6-2 St. Louis, ending the lefty starter's night earlier than he or the Nats would have liked.

Washington would get two runs back on solo home runs from Bryce Harper and Zimmerman, but the red-hot Cards lineup was simply too much on this night. Matt Adams came through with a pinch-hit two-run double to pad the lead to 8-4 and essentially put things out of reach. 

What it means: After starting the season series off with four straight against the Cardinals, the Nats have now dropped back-to-back games to St. Louis. At 29-21, Washington is still in a virtual tie for first place in the NL East with the New York Mets. 

Another rough outing for Gio: Well, so much for the idea of Jose Lobaton spurring a rebound start for Gonzalez. Even though he was throwing to his usual catcher this time, Gio struggled for the second straight outing, allowing six earned runs on six hits and four walks over 4 2/3 frames. What doomed him the most Saturday? His inability to finish innings when he was ahead in the count. Though he had multiple opportunities in two-strike, two-out situations to exit a frame unscathed, he instead allowed a series of crippling run-scoring hits. Indeed, five of the six runs Gonzalez yielded against the Cards came with two down, a frustrating stat considering that there were moments where he looked like he was going to settle down. 

Daniel Murphy, record breaker: In only his second regular season month with his new team, Daniel Murphy has already etched his name in the Nats record books. His second-inning single was his 41st hit in May, breaking Denard Span's club mark for hits in a month. Murphy's average on the season is now at an eye-popping .390 through nearly two months. 

Up next: The Nats will look to salvage a series split Sunday afternoon as they send Stephen Strasburg (8-0, 2.79 ERA) to the mound to oppose the Cardinals' Michael Wacha (2-5, 5.04). 

Best dressed: Sager, KD's mom, Westbrook or KD?

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Best dressed: Sager, KD's mom, Westbrook or KD?

If you are an NBA fan, you know about Craig Sager and his phenomenal outfits. As a sideline reporter for TNT, Sager is known just as much for his attire as he is for his reporting.

For example, here's a look at what he is wearing for Saturday's Game 6 between Oklahoma City and Golden State.

As phenomenal as he may look, he just may have met his match in Oklahoma City from an unexpected source: Kevin Durant's mom.

I don't know, I think she's got him beat.

Not to be out done are the players themselves of course. Russell Westbrook always brings his A game when it comes to outfits, and Saturday was no different.

Remember when Charlie Sheen kept talking about tiger blood? I'm pretty sure he was talking about this jacket.

Kevin Durant is taking his fashion style onto the court with messages written on his shoes.

Pretty soon the NBA Playoffs will need its own red carpet show.

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