Washington Wizards

Fitter Fish advances; King, Stephens reach semi's at Citi Open

831169.png

Fitter Fish advances; King, Stephens reach semi's at Citi Open

Mardy Fishs gimpy right ankle could use a night off, ideally, a week, maybe more. Thats just not happening, not now anyway. Not in the middle of a tournament as the top seed, not with a string of events on deck leading to the mother of all hard court events, the U.S. Open.The 30-year-old did the next best thing in his second-round match: He briskly disposed his overmatched opponent in 60 minutes,defeating Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-1 at the Citi Open on Thursday.Fishs injured wheel, originally dinged up two weeks ago during a tournament in Atlanta and then tweaked while diving for a ball in his opening match in Washington, will simply have to tough it out. If the worlds 15th ranked player reaches the final, he will end up playing four straight days. Thats a tough thing because the ankle needs rest and Im not going to give it rest, said Fish, a six-time champion on tour still seeking his first crown this year.Dominant serving propelled No. 8 seed Sam Querrey into the third round where the American will face third-seeded Kevin Anderson, also a straight-set winner. Xavier Malisse, Fishs next opponent and a 2010 semifinalist, dispatched No. 6 Jeremy Chardy 6-3, 6-2.In the womens draw, laser-focused and No. 4 seed Vania King defeated seventh-seeded Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in an All-American quarterfinal. 19-year-old andNo. 3 seed Sloane Stephens reached her second career semifinal with a6-4, 6-4 Stadium court victory over Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.The irony for Fish, who won two matches this week in Washington for the first time since 2006, is that after a largely inactive summer he needs the work, physical and mental. Diagnosed with heart arrhythmia, Fish underwent a procedure in May and remained off the tour for over two months. Since then he reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon, but the ankle injury in Atlanta forced a withdrawal during his first match, his last event before his current one.Fitness level, really, the confidence that I feel like I can play in any weather against anyone and come out on top, Fish said as to what hes hoping to build toward this week.Despite practicing under the stifling afternoon sun, the native Minnesotan said he naively brushed aside the heat and humidity, as his blistering serve and formidable ground strokes later did against Berankis. Sure, dealing with the elements on a single day is a minor achievement, but a necessary building block as Fish grinds out this week, then another, then another.I think were on the right track, but every match helps with that, Fish said, who finished with 10 aces in his latest result. You cant train hard enough for the matches. You play harder, you try harder in the real matches. It only comes with match play.The womens matchup between American quarterfinalists was the epitome of contrasting, well, everything. The gritty King comes out of the Chris Evert School of stoic on-court demeanor while Vandeweghe hooted and hollered at herself and officials throughout. That vocal edge only added toVandeweghe's 6-foot-1 Amazonian presence, especially compared to the petite 5-foot-5 speedster who ultimately tracked down enough missiles. In the end, precision and poise downed power and peevishness. Shes much bigger, much stronger than I am. She has a lot more power than I do, said King, a two-time grand slam doubles champion with a power of her own.(Coco) doesnt have the wheels like I do.Vandeweghe entered the match having dominated her previous two opponents this week, losing only five games over her last three sets. Against King she dropped that many before finally getting on the scoreboard. With Vandeweghes first serve iffy early,King broke it twice for a 5-0 lead. Though her opponent began using her passion for good during the second set triumph and rallying back from an early break in the third, King countered with a decisive break of her own at 4-all.Its just whether I can negate her power enough and move her serve consistently enough. At the end of the day in the third set I was able to do that, King said of her game plan against Vandeweghe. The 23-year-old California native knows a similar approach is required for Fridays semifinals against another big, strong player,top seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenko, a straight-sets winner over Kai-Chen Chang. King, aiming for her first singles title since 2006, has three straight victories over Pavlyuchenkova, including a triumph at this years Australian Open.The other semifinal pits the rising Stephens against Magdalena Rybariova.After defeating Florent Serra, Anderson will next face Querrey, his doubles partner this week. Coming off a championship effort in Los Angeles last week, Querrey won all 22 points on his first serve in a 6-4, 6-3 winner over Benjamin Becker.

Quick Links

Heat rising, Knicks falling in Kyrie Irving sweepstakes, report says

Heat rising, Knicks falling in Kyrie Irving sweepstakes, report says

Things moved very quickly with Kyrie Irving and his request to be traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers once the news broke over the weekend. Soon after that news was revealed, we learned of the four teams he would prefer to be traded to. ESPN's Chris Haynes had Irving eyeing the Heat, Knicks, Timberwolves and Spurs.

Now almost a week later, one of those teams seems to be rising the list while another seems to be falling. The first report, from ESPN's Pablo Torre, has Irving with increased interest in the Knicks. Irving does happen to be from nearby New Jersey.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast - Wall's deal, Cavs crumbling?]

The second report, which comes from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, has the Heat falling out of the mix. Here is what Jackson wrote:

And while the possibility certainly cannot be ruled out, the Heat does not have considerable optimism about being able to strike a deal, multiple league sources said.

One Eastern Conference official who spoke to the Heat said Miami considers itself something of a long shot.

Regarding the Knicks, it would make sense if there were interest from both sides. New York has Carmelo Anthony, who would be a good fit for the Cavaliers as they chase another championship, while Irving could team up with young star Kristaps Porzingis on the Knicks. Once Porzingis comes into his own, that could be among the best tandems in the NBA.

It also makes perfect sense why the Heat would not be a good fit. The Heat have two very good players in Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, but would have to likely part with one to bring in Irving. Swap Irving in for Dragic and the Heat probably aren't much better. Maybe they sell some more tickets, but it's not a major upgrade. From the Cavs' perspective, Dragic is better than Derrick Rose, whom Cleveland recently signed, but kind of redundant. Dragic is also six years older than Irving.

If Irving goes to the Knicks, it would make the East more interesting because New York would probably take a big step forward. If he is traded to the Heat for Dragic, it may not mean much for the rest of the conference.

[RELATED: Wall's new contract official: 'It was an easy decision']

Quick Links

Nats hit 8 HRs to blast Brewers 15-2

usatsi_10181733.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Nats hit 8 HRs to blast Brewers 15-2

The Washington Nationals tied a franchise record with eight home runs, including two apiece by Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, and Max Scherzer pitched six innings of three-hit ball in a 15-2 rout of the fading Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday.

Washington matched two major league records in a seven-run third inning: Most consecutive home runs (four) and most home runs in an inning (five).

After Harper connected off Michael Blazek (0-1) in the first inning, Brian Goodwin started the long-ball barrage in the third with a two-run drive. Wilmer Difo, Harper and Zimmerman followed with long home runs.

MORE NATIONALS: Watch the Nats hit back to back homeruns 

The streak was interrupted when Daniel Murphy flied out, after which some of the fans reacted with good-natured booing.

Anthony Rendon resumed the fun with a shot to dead center that finally chased Blazek, whose first major league start was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Zimmerman and Jose Lobaton both homered off Wily Peralta in the fourth for a 15-1 lead.

The eight home runs tied the franchise mark set in July 1978 by the Montreal Expos against Atlanta.

Scherzer (12-5) allowed one run and struck out nine to bring his total this year to 201 -- his sixth consecutive season with at least 200, the longest active streak in the majors.

The right-hander had plenty of offensive support, most notably from Harper, who had three hits and four RBIs while extending his career-best hitting streak to 19 games.

Travis Shaw and Lewis Brinson homered for the Brewers, who have lost nine of 11 to drop from first place in the NL Central.

Blazek gave up seven hits, six of them home runs, in just 2 1/3 innings. Peralta allowed seven runs and eight hits in 1 2/3 innings, a performance that raised his ERA to 7.85.

MOVE OVER, HONDO

Zimmerman's two home runs upped his total with the Nationals to 237, tied with Frank Howard for most in Washington history.

Known affectionately as "Hondo," the 6-foot-7 Howard played with the expansion Senators from 1965-71.

ROSTER MOVE

The Brewers added RHP Anthony Swarzak to the roster after obtaining him Wednesday in a trade with the White Sox.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (10-3, 3.25 ERA) was placed on the 10-day disabled list with an elbow impingement. Manager Dusty Baker expects Strasburg to miss only one start. ... OF Michael Taylor (oblique strain) is almost ready to begin baseball activities, Baker said. Taylor has been on the DL since July 7.

UP NEXT

Brewers: Brent Suter (1-1, 2.84 ERA) takes the mound Friday night in the opener of a three-game showdown with the visiting Chicago Cubs.

Nationals: Tanner Roark (8-6, 4.83 ERA) helps Washington launch a three-game series at home against the Colorado Rockies.