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Sports in brief: Rafael Nadal holds on to reach Rome Masters final

Tennis

Nadal survives to reach Rome Masters final

ROME — Rafael Nadal withstood a serious test from Ernests Gulbis before wearing down his 40th-ranked opponent for a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win in the semifinals of the Rome Masters on Saturday.

It was the first time in nine matches on clay this year that Nadal dropped a set.

"It was a really hard match, and I didn't play well," third-ranked Nadal said. "It's really difficult to play against Gulbis. His serve was really unbelievable."

Routinely putting first serves in at 133 mph, Gulbis didn't allow Nadal his usual rhythm on his return game. "I was really happy that I won such a difficult match," Nadal said. "The mental part was very good for me."

Nadal will go for his fifth Rome title in six years when he meets fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the title match today.

Porsche Grand Prix: In Stuttgart, Germany, Justine Henin beat Shahar Peer 6-3, 6-2 to reach her third final in five tournaments since coming out of retirement in January. Henin faces Samantha Stosur in today's final.

Blast from past: John McEnroe, 51, won 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) over Bjorn Borg, 53, in the Champions Cup semifinals in Boston. They battled for almost two hours in the over-30 event. McEnroe faces Mark Philippoussis in today's final.

Et cetera

Greyhounds: Flyin Carnoustie ($10.40), Jack's Shortfuse ($12.20), Ls Jack Williams ($14.80) and Ww Site On Tally ($6.20) won first-round qualifying races in the $20,000 Gold Trophy Juvenile Stakes at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg. The second round is Wednesday night.

Soccer: Thomas Mueller scored all three goals to put Bayern Munich on the verge of its 22nd German Bundesliga title with a 3-1 win over visiting Bochum. Bayern is three points clear of Schalke with a game left. … In the English Premier League, Tottenham edged visiting Bolton 1-0 and host Manchester City beat Aston Villa 3-1 to stay in a tight race for a Champions League spot. Fourth-place Tottenham has 67 points and City has 66 with two games left. The two meet Wednesday.

Swimming: USA Swimming leaders adopted four proposals designed to protect young athletes from sexual abuse: start a hotline and counseling service, create staff positions to focus on athlete protection, form an athlete protection committee and publish a list of coaches banned for life. At least four lawsuits allege improper contact between coaches and athletes. A report on ABC's 20/20 said at least 36 coaches have been banned for life over the past decade.

Don Jensen, Times correspondent; Times wires

Sports in brief: Rafael Nadal holds on to reach Rome Masters final 05/01/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 1, 2010 11:59pm]
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