Williams sisters who? Trio of U.S. women reach Citi Open quarters

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Williams sisters who? Trio of U.S. women reach Citi Open quarters

Raise your hand if your take on American female tennis essentially begins and ends with Venus and Serena Williams.Vania King says dont believe the hype. Coco Vandeweghe scoffs at the notion of there being no young American women coming up the ranks.Now, raise your hand if youre unfamiliar with Vania King and Coco Vandeweghe. The simple answer is the pair rank among the top 100 players on tour yet many have never heard of them. The precise reply for this weekis the No. 4 and 7 seeds respectively at the Citi Open. After both pulled of straight sets on Wednesday, their diverse styles are set for a stars and stripes clashin Thursday's quarterfinals. The slugging and brash Vandeweghe, seeded for the first time on tour, dismissed her second straight opponent. Brimming with confidence after reaching her first WTA final at Stanford last month where she lost to Serena Williams Vandeweghe boldly downed Aravane Rezai 6-2, 6-2.King positions herself on the court with a defensive-minded presence, though she mixed enough winners to down fellow American Irina Falconi 6-2, 7-6 (5). Another American, Sloane Stephens,reached the quarterfinal round on Tuesday. She will play 18-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard on Thursday following the second round match between men's top seedMardy Fish and Ricardas Berankis.King, atwo-time grand slam doubles champion, also went on the offensive in the post match press conference. A reporter asked whether there being three Americans this deep in the tournament with none being part of that famed sister act ran counter to the public perception of womens tennis in the U.S.I dont think the publics perception is (its only) Venus and Serena, said King, whose lone singles title came as a 16-year-old in 2006. I think thats the medias perception. I think the media groups tennis in the United States as if youre not in the top 10 or if you havent multiple grand slams than youre not a good player.If you go to any other sport in the states, people are known for being top 200, top 300...Its no small feat to be the best 100 in the world. Vandeweghe received a similar query about there being a trio of red, white and blue-ers left in the womens draw.I think its great that were all in the quarters, said the 21-year-old and one of nine Americans inside the WTAs top 100 rankings. Vandeweghe jumped from 120 to 69 after her effort at Stanford. "It's great to have all these Americans inside the top 100. With all the talk about, 'No good Americans coming up,' we've got a lot of young girls and I think we're all doing well individually and doing different things very well."Vandeweghe speaks as she plays: bold and direct. Case in point, analysis of her win over Rezai.My serve definitely shook her confidence, also with me beating her in the groundstroke rallies, said Vandeweghe, who never lost a service game and smacked 11 aces. Both those things just kind of depleted her confidence and that definitely raised my game to see that in an opponent.Truth is whatever former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghes niece lacks in terms of championship winning hardware, she makes up for with the rigid belief that any time could be her time.I didnt really have plans on going to the finals in Stamford, but going into a tournament youre always thinking about winning the tournament, beating everybody, Vandeweghe said. Otherwise, there is no real point and showing up and playing.Next time Vandeweghe shows up to play, King will be on the other side of the net. The 2010 Wimbledon and U.S. Open double champion anticipates matchup will play fast and display their contrasting methods.We dont play very similar, King said.The winner could face top seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the semifinals, though the Russian struggled in her three-set victory on Wednesday. While a title win in D.C. may not adjust their Q ratings with the general public the WTA side of the event is not among the prominent stops on tour King and Vandeweghe have a chance for a much desired title run and generating additional momentum before the U.S. Open.Its what you do with your opportunities, how you take advantage of them, Vandeweghe said. NotesJames Blake, fourth-seeded Tommy Haas and No. 2 Alexandr Dolgopolov all advanced to the third round with straight-set victoriesBouchard upset No. 8 Olga Govortsova in three sets.

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FINLAY: Redskins' statement was a mistake, but won't impact on field results

FINLAY: Redskins' statement was a mistake, but won't impact on field results

The Redskins made a mistake issuing a statement about their failed long-term contract negotiations with Kirk Cousins. The team offered too much specific information.

On the field, however, starting next week in training camp, the statement will make zero impact.

Centered around the roller coaster that occurred between Bruce Allen’s statement on Monday afternoon and Kirk Cousins’ Tuesday interview with Grant and Danny on 106.7 the Fan, some Redskins fans think that hopes for the Burgundy and Gold are buried this fall. 

Was Allen’s statement a wise move? No. There was no reason to publicly put out the team’s offer, or more importantly, tell the world that Cousins never countered. It seemed like an attempt to control the conversation, and a lame attempt at that.

But here’s the thing: A deal was never happening

Cousins knew that. The Redskins knew that.

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And the zaniness of Monday and Tuesday should not have any impact on the 2017 season.

If Cousins can do anything, it’s compartmentalize. 

Last season, he dealt with almost the exact same public mess of a contract squabble. The team never offered him remotely close to market value, and the QB still came out and threw for nearly 5,000 yards. 

Cousins will again block out the noise, and deliver his best possible performance for the Redskins. The team should be better too. An improved defense should help immediately (even if that jump goes from bad to average), and a rebuilt receiving group should give Cousins the weapons to again run Jay Gruden’s potent offense. 

There are fan theories that the team might implode, and eventually, go to Colt McCoy or Nate Sudfeld at quarterback. I don’t see that happening. 

Cousins is under contract for 2017. The coaching staff, and the players, know what he can do. Personally, I don’t think the season unravels. Cousins is a good player. He's established a baseline for his performance over the past two years. 

The time since the franchise tag deadline doesn’t change that. The time since the franchise tag doesn’t change Jordan Reed’s ability to get open. It doesn’t change Jamison Crowder’s quickness on the inside or Trent Williams power on the outside.

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I don’t expect the Redskins to run off 13 wins. I’ve already written that I don’t even think the team will make the playoffs. To be clear, however, I don’t think Bruce Allen’s statement will make a difference once the players take the field in real games. 

On Wednesday, Chad Dukes of the Fan asked me if it’s possible that the Redskins season unravels, and things go sideways with Cousins. I don't expect that, and Dukes wondered if I was being overly optimistic. 

Could things fall apart? Sure. Anything is possible in the NFL, and especially with the Redskins. 

For me, however, Cousins' talent in the Redskins offensive system will mitigate the local penchant for crazy. Cousins has thrown for 9,000 yards and completed more than 68 percent of his passes in the last two seasons. He also bet on himself, again, to produce at a high level in 2017.

I think Cousins is smart. I think Gruden's offense will work. I think the Redskins defense will be improved. 

I don’t think this team makes the playoffs, but they should be close. I also don’t think this team implodes. 

Looking at the big picture, I definitely don’t consider myself an optimist. A realist, perhaps, but only time will tell. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! 

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Orioles' Kevin Gausman finds his groove against Texas Rangers

Orioles' Kevin Gausman finds his groove against Texas Rangers

All of a sudden, the Baltimore Orioles' starting rotation is pitching magnificently.

The question is: Has this struggling staff finally found its groove, or is it because the opposition is the Texas Rangers?

MORE ORIOLES: ZACH BRITTON RETURNS TO O'S

Kevin Gausman pitched six innings of four-hit ball, Adam Jones homered and scored three runs and Baltimore beat the faltering Rangers 10-2 on Wednesday night.

Gausman (6-7) gave up one run, struck out eight and walked two. The right-hander came in with a 6.39 ERA and had yielded a total of 14 runs in his last two starts.

Though the Orioles' faulty rotation is one big reason why the team is four games under .500, the starters in this series have combined to allow three runs over 18 innings.

"It's a roll we'd like to get on," manager Buck Showalter said. "Start kind of passing the baton to the next guy."

Having thus far outscored Texas 25-4 in the series, the Orioles will attempt to complete a four-game sweep on Thursday.

"I think we all know that we need to pitch better and, you know, we're trying to do that," Gausman said. "Obviously the offense is what's kind of given us a bigger margin for error."

Trey Mancini contributed two hits in a seven-run seventh inning, including a bases-loaded triple, and Jonathan Schoop finished with three hits and three RBIs.

Joey Gallo hit his 22nd home run for the Rangers, who have dropped four straight and scored only eight runs in their last five games.

"We have to continue to believe in our offense. That's a challenge for us right now," manager Jeff Banister said. "It's been a bit of a stretch where one run has been the case for us and it's coming off solo shots."

Adrian Beltre hit a fourth-inning double to move within 17 hits of 3,000 for his career. It was his 602nd double, breaking a tie with Barry Bonds for 16th place on the all-time list.

But there were few other highlights for the Rangers, now 2-4 on a 10-game trip out of the All-Star break.

"It just seems tough to score right now," said Elvis Andrus, who went 0 for 4.

Texas had eight hits -- only two for extra bases.

"We can score runs. We need to get back to that and show our identity again," Gallo said. "I don't think anyone in this clubhouse is worried or panicking."

Jones got Baltimore started with a leadoff homer off Martin Perez (5-7), and Schoop made it 3-0 with a two-run double in the third.

Gallo connected in the fifth, but the Orioles pulled away in the seventh. Baltimore got six hits and took advantage of an error by catcher Robinson Chirinos to score four unearned runs.