Haas catches Fish, faces Dolgopolov for Citi Open title


Haas catches Fish, faces Dolgopolov for Citi Open title

In a perfect world, Tommy Haas would not even be in Washington this week. Denied a London Olympics opportunity, the last player with a win over Roger Federer is making the of his DC experience.Top seed Mardy Fish, Haas friend and Los Angeles neighbor, was the latest victim caught in the No. 4 seeds scorned wake. Haas reached his first championship in Washington with a 6-3, 7-5 victory at the Citi Open on Saturday afternoon. Alexandr Dolgopolov hopes hes not next, though the laid-back Ukrainian hardly seems stressed, like ever. Like Haas, the crafty No. 2 seed has yet to lose a set this week including a 6-4, 6-4 triumph over eighth-seeded Sam Querrey in the other semifinal at the Fitzgerald Tennis Center.The days session concluded with unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova continuing her upset-fueled tournament by defeating No. 1 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-1 in the womens championship match.Haas sets streak appeared in jeopardy at 4-5, 30-40 in the second against Fish, but he fended off a simultaneous break and set point. He subsequently took the game, then broke the 15th ranked player in the worlds serve, then served successfully for the match.There was just a few points (difference) here and there really, said Haas, a winner in five of his last six matches against top 15 ranked players this year. If you get a break point opportunity, like so often in many matches you try to win those big points. The majority of them went my way today.The 34-year-old Haas has appeared in three finals this year, all coming within the last 10 weeks. One ended with a pre-Wimbledon championship over Federer, who subsequently won at Wimbledon and next plays for Olympic gold on Sunday.Anytime in a final you can beat someone like Roger Federer, pretty recently, youre playing some good tennis, Fish said. No disgrace to lose to someone like that.An Olympic silver medalist in 2000, Haas desired a berth on the current German team. His country required a top-24 world ranking, which at the time Haas, who began the year 205, did not possess. That led to a decision the one-time No. 2 ranked player in the world and since 2010, also an American citizen - declared after his first round match this week, a big mistake in my eyes.Ironically, with a win in the championship against Dolgopolov, Haas rank will jump inside the top 24.Against Fish in the first set, Haas lost only two points on serve and did not commit an unforced error. ''That's obviously something that doesn't happen often in my game, because I play very aggressively at times and miss a few balls here and there,'' said Haas, now 4-1 in his career against Fish. ''But in order to beat people like Mardy Fish, you have to play at a very high level.''Fishs attempt at dictating play on set point failed when a slice backhand inadvertently turned into a drop shot, allowing Haas to recover and win the point.That was the biggest point of the match for me, said the 30-year-old Fish, who continues rounding back into shape after an extended medical absence on tour following a procedure for an irregular heartbeat.This was a great week for me to get some matches, see where I am, to build on, Fish said. Im not happy with the result today, but happy with the week.While Haas is quite familiar with his occasional LA knock around pal, hes never faced Dolgopolov, who broke the big serving Querrey in the matchs opening game. That was really important, said Dolgopolov, who will see his ranking jump from 25 to 16 next week regardless of whether he wins his second career title on Sunday. Its tough to break his serve. To start the game like that, its a lot of confidence.The 23-year-old Ukrainian with the semi-contrarian, high-risk game also ripped off 25 winners while thwarting all five of Querreys break chances.He has an awkward-style game, and it makes it tough to play against, said Querrey, whose semifinals appearance backed up his title win in Los Angeles last week.Ranked 102 entering this week, Rybarikova did not lose a set in any of her five matches, including wins over the top three ranked players in the womens draw. The Slovak drubbed Pavlyuchenkova in65 minutes en route to winning her third career title and doing so in the first year the Washington tournament, a staple on the ATP schedule, combined with the WTA Tour. NotesThe mens final is scheduled for 4 pm on SundayQuerrey and partner Kevin Anderson will play for the doubles championship at 1 pm against the team of Trent Conrad Huey and Dominic InglotNo American male has won theWashington championship since Andy Roddick in 2007.

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What will Joe Ross' role be for Nationals in playoffs vs. Dodgers?

What will Joe Ross' role be for Nationals in playoffs vs. Dodgers?

It was just a few weeks ago that Joe Ross' postseason availability was in question, and if he could return in time, whether he would pitch out of the Nationals' bullpen and or as a starter wasn't clear. Manager Dusty Baker wondered aloud if he would get his young right-hander back, even as Stephen Strasburg dealt with elbow injuries.

The progress Ross has made in a short period of time since is remarkable and after his 90-pitch outing on Thursday afternoon against the Diamondbacks, the 23-year-old looks and feels ready for the playoffs, and not just to pitch in relief, either.

"I'm hoping I get the opportunity to start, but that's up to them," Ross said. "But I'll take any opportunity I get to pitch and go out there and compete. I just want to help the team in any way I can."

Ross wasn't great on Thursday in his third start back from the disabled list. He only made it four innings, as his pitch count soared early. But in giving up just one run, he's now pitched 9 2/3 innings in three games back. During that stretch he's allowed three runs and struck out 14.

[RELATED: Wilson Ramos hopes to be back with Nationals]

It has been a process of baby steps for the Nats starter, a slow progression back from right shoulder inflammation, an injury rehab that featured a setback in late July. Now, though, he is essentially back to normal, just in time for the NL Division Series which begins next week.

"I feel good. I felt really good today. I felt really good last start. I guess it's just a point of executing pitches," he said. "There's no doubt in my mind really on whether I can go out and compete."

Baker mentioned that Ross could pitch in releif early in the NLDS against the Dodgers. That could keep him available for a start later on, if it's kept short like a normal bullpen session.

But one has to wonder if Ross has improved his case enough to pitch Game 3 of that series, given Gio Gonzalez' recent struggles. The lefty has allowed 19 earned runs in his last 23 innings going back five starts.

Regardless, Ross has certainly come a long way in just three MLB outings.

"He looks ready," second baseman Wilmer Difo said through an interpreter.

With all the negative injury news the Nationals have received in recent days, between Wilson Ramos' season-ending injury and Strasburg essentially ruled out for the NLDS, having Ross fully back in the mix is a nice change of fortune for the NL East champs.

[RELATED: Matt Belisle sounds like safe bet for Nats playoff roster]


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Indians-Tigers rainout could complicate Orioles life

Indians-Tigers rainout could complicate Orioles life

After waiting four hours and 13 minutes, the Detroit Tigers’ scheduled game with Cleveland was rained out. Six inches of rain fell at Comerica Field, making it unplayable. 

The Tigers and Indians will have to play on Monday if the wild-card race is undecided. 

That’s not good news for the Orioles. If the Orioles and Detroit tie, a game will then have to played at Oriole Park to decide the second wild-card team, complicating the postseason schedule. 

The Tigers have three games at Atlanta while the Orioles play three at Yankee Stadium. If the Indians-Tigers game is necessary on Monday, the Orioles may have to come back to Baltimore to await the result. 

Of course, the Orioles could make it necessary by winning the final four games of the season, beginning with tonight’s game in Toronto. 

If Orioles win and Tigers losses combine for four, then Detroit is eliminated. 

Seattle, which trails by two games, plays four with Oakland. 

Potentially worse news for the Orioles is that this weekend’s weather forecast in New York is horrible. 

The wild-card game is scheduled for Tuesday, and the Division Series is scheduled for Thursday, so a tiebreaker game between the Orioles and Tigers could certainly complicate things.  

RELATED: Hyun Soo Kim provides biggest hit of Orioles' season