Citi Open preview: ATP and WTA tours invading D.C.

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Citi Open preview: ATP and WTA tours invading D.C.

Starting Monday professional tennis is backin Washington and with a double your fun kind of vibe, not to mention a new name. Traditionally thistournament is all about the mens (ATP)tour, but the first year under the Citi Open label the Rock Creek hard courts will also host the womens (WTA) version. As for who is specifically in the field, your familiarity with the names may vary. Mardy Fish headlines the ATP side of the aisle, but the second-highest ranked American in the world also sports one of the few recognizablenames in the event, previously known as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic. With the stars of the tennis world competing for gold, silver and bronze over in London, familiar names like Andy Roddick and John Isner, not to mention notable international stars are not in D.C.Same goes for the WTA field, which includes a trio of young seeded American women led by Sloane Stephens, plus former it-girl Melanie Oudin, working her way back up the charts. After playing in College Park last year during a different week, organizers folded that event into one that has been played in the D.C. area since 1969.Fish, one of two top 20 players competing this week in either draw, is the obvious men's favorite. However, despite the lack of star power in the field, do not assume winning this week will be yes, I am going there - shooting fish in a barrel easy for the thirteenth ranked player in the world. No. 17 Alexandr Dolgopolov, South Africa's Kevin Anderson and former top-10 player Tommy Haas round out the top four seeds. All have impressive wins on tour this season and Anderson and Haas have accomplished what Fish has not: win a title in 2012.Fish is also recovering from an ankle injury suffered 10 days ago, which forced him to withdraw in Atlanta. He also has not had much recent success in Washington, but a win this week could springboard the 30-year-old toward a strong close to the season and a successful U.S. Open. Taking home the winners portion of the 1.049 million purse would not be too shabby either (playing in significantly lesserevent compared to the men in terms of their respective tours,the women'stotal purse is220,000).Here is what else you need to know about the 2012 Citi Open:Mens Draw- Finals on August 5Top seed: A six-time tour winner, Fish has twice reached the quarterfinals in Washington, most recently in 2006, but has not won more than a single match in a given year since. He pulled out last year as the No. 2 seed with a heel injury. Others to watch: The Ukrainian Dolgopolov, the No.2 seed, reached the finals in Brisbane earlier this year34-year-old and former top 10 player Hass is the last man to have defeated Roger Federer this year, taking down the eventual Wimbledon champ in the finals at HalleThe 6-foot-8 Anderson defeated Roddick and Isner on his way to way winning a hard courts title in Delray Beach back in FebruaryAmerican Sam Querry is seeded eighth.Blast from the past: Longtime American stalwart and 2002 Washington champion James Blake returns to D.C. for the ninth time. Perhaps being on familiar turf or rather, hard courts will turn around what has been a losing season.Womens Draw- Finals on August 4Top seed: Ranked 28th in the world, 21-year-old Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is aiming for her fourth career title and first in 2012. Though she prefers clay, Pavlyuchenkova showed her court diversity with a run to the quarters on the grass at Eastbourne this summer.Others to watch: No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens tops the three Americans seeded in Washington, including Vania King (4) and Coco Vandeweghe. Stephens, ranked 52 in the world and a rising 19-year African-American talent from Florida, reached the round of 16 at the French Open and round of 32 at Wimbledon. South African Chanelle Scheppers is the No. 2 seed.Blast from the past: Melanie Oudin, remember her? The precocious 17-year-old American stormed the tennis gates in 2009 including a run to the quarters at the U.S. Open and reached a ranking of 31 in 2010. Since there have been more downs then ups, but while currently outside the top 100, Oudin has recently begin move back in the right direction.

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Anthony Rendon homers in third straight game, but Nationals fall to Mariners in series finale

Anthony Rendon homers in third straight game, but Nationals fall to Mariners in series finale

WASHINGTON -- Nelson Cruz greeted reliever Jacob Turner with a go-ahead, three-run homer in the sixth inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Thursday to stop a five-game losing streak.

Gio Gonzalez took a 2-0 lead into the sixth, when Jean Segura singled leading off and Guillermo Heredia took a called third strike. That prompted Seattle manager Scott Servais to complain from the dugout, which led to his ejection by plate umpire Adam Hamari.

Robinson Cano singled, and Washington manager Dusty Baker brought in Turner (2-3), despite Cruz having just one hit in 15 at-bats against Gonzalez. Cruz drove a belt-high slider over the fence in left-center for his 12th homer this season and a 3-2 lead. Cruz leads the AL with 40 RBIs.

Cano added an RBI single off Turner in the seventh. Seattle scored multiple runs for the first time since May 18.

Ariel Miranda (4-2) allowed two runs, three hits and three walks in five innings. Edwin Diaz, Seattle's sixth pitcher, threw a one-hit ninth that completed a six-hitter. Diaz got his first save since May 9 and has eight in 10 chances overall.

Gonzalez gave up two runs, three hits and four walks in 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight.

Washington's Anthony Rendon homered in the fifth, his ninth this season and fourth in the three-game series. Jayson Werth added an RBI single later in the inning.

FAMILY FIRST

Baker will be leaving the Nationals for their weekend series against San Diego Padres to attend his son Darren's high school graduation in Northern California and will rejoin the team Monday in San Francisco.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: LHP James Paxton (forearm strain) could return to the rotation in the first or second game of a homestand that starts Wednesday, Servais said. ... 1B Danny Valencia was in the lineup for a second straight day after sitting out three games with a wrist injury.

Nationals: Baker may continue to use an eight-man bullpen. Baker said the decision depends the progress of INF Stephen Drew's rehabilitation from a hamstring strain. Drew is at extended spring training.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Yovani Gallardo is 2-2 with a 5.28 ERA against Boston, where Seattle begins a three-game set on Friday.

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (4-3, 3.02) has allowed two runs or fewer in his last three starts against San Diego, which opens a three-game series in Washington on Friday.

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'I'm letting all hell break loose' – Josh Norman belittles Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr.

'I'm letting all hell break loose' – Josh Norman belittles Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr.

NFC East opponents don't challenge Josh Norman. Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham, Jr. are fake tough, no real threat to him. Not like some other receivers in the NFL. 

At least that's how the Redskins corner described them in a wide-ranging interview with Bleacher Report published on Thursday. 

The gist? The Cowboys and Giants stars get no respect from Norman, though both were involved in memorable feuds with him the past year. 

Norman got his first opportunity to talk trash when asked to do word association with the name "Dez Bryant." He took the opening and returned it for a touchdown. 

"That's a guy. Just a guy. Dez was Dez in 2012, '13, '14. Maybe '14. Now? He's a guy," Norman said.

"He doesn't 'wow' you. For me, he don't. For other guys, he probably will do the worst to them because he'll bully them. But you can't bully a bully. You know what I'm saying? That's why his game doesn't resonate to me."

To jog your memory, Norman and Bryant went at it after the Cowboys beat the Redskins on Thanksgiving last year. Bryant said Washington should get a refund on Norman's contract. There was also drama about whether Norman falsely accused Bryant of threatening to "unload the clip" on him.

Real mature, substantive conflict. 

RELATED: Redskins’ Norman confident that changes will improve defense

The Redskins corner didn't go any easier on Beckham, who of all receivers in the league has had the most explosive run-ins with Norman. 

In fact, Beckham's helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman in a 2015 contest between the Giants and Panthers led the NFL to change rules for ejections. Beckham had racked up three unnecessary roughness penalties in that game. 

"[Beckham] tries to be a tough guy. He tries to put on this persona which he's not. Because he's always going to have his head on a swivel. Always. Always when we play each other," Norman said, suggesting that he's able to push OBJ over the edge and out of control. 

"He's scary like that. He does things that he normally wouldn't do because of all the pressure and added hype that he has to put on his whole persona. He's not this guy. If you go back and watch the games in which we play compared to the games we don't play each other, he's a totally different guy."

"When people get physical, tough, like the Minnesota game, he acts out. He's a kid. He's a big kid, man," Norman concluded.

It must have been an exercise in restraint not to mention OBJ's kicking-net tantrum after losing to the Redskins last year. 

As the interview moved on, there wasn't a receiver that drew respect from Norman until the name Julio Jones came up. Norman got to see the Falcons receiver twice a year when he played for Carolina in the NFC South. 

"Now, that is the ultimate challenge. That's when I can do things in a split-second, a millisecond, just choo-choo-choo," Norman said of facing Jones. He said he's missed that challenge since moving to the NFC East. 

"It's the worst. Because I'm just battling 'guys.' I'm not battling against something I can call 'greatness.' I'm not enhancing my craft. Don't get me wrong. They're tough. But they're not [Jones]," he said. He also named Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Chicago's Alshon Jeffrey as other receivers who could provide a real test. 

But whether those matchups excite Norman or not, he knows they can't touch the hype of NFC East showdowns, especially ones involving Beckham. 

"That game gets so hyped up by the time we play them, it won't even be Giants vs. Washington—it'll be me and him. ... Because now you have us on Thanksgiving Night. C'mon, man!"

The interview ended with Norman looking forward to playing with new Redskins safety DJ Swearinger, who has a reputation as a hard-hitting intimidator.

"Trust me when I tell you, it's going to be bad blood this year. You think the NFC East didn't like each other before? This year right here? There's going to be a lot of fines and maybe some suspensions. I'm going to be honest with you: This s--- is going to get really ugly. Because I do have a safety that don't give a f--- and I definitely don't. And I know they don't have that many people on the offense who do on their side."

"I'm letting all hell break loose."

MORE REDSKINS: Josh Doctson ready to show the NFL, "I'm good at what I do"