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Tennis' Rafael Nadal regaining confidence amid tournament victory drought

TENNIS

Drought-striCken NADAL regains hop

KEY BISCAYNE — That sweaty but happy contestant skipping across the court Sunday was Rafael Nadal, no longer No. 1 but waving his index finger anyway after a third-round victory at the Sony Ericsson Open. It has been 10 months since Nadal won a tournament, but he showed some of his old swagger by rallying past wild card David Nalbandian 6-7 (8-10), 6-2, 6-2.

"Every match right now I want to be really important for me," said the fourth seed, hampered by knee trouble in recent months, "and every victory gives me confidence."

Nadal faces David Ferrer next and remains on course for a showdown against No. 1 Roger Federer. The rivals haven't met since May in Madrid. A potential semifinal foe for Nadal is No. 6 Andy Roddick, who beat Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-2, 6-1.

On the women's side, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters stayed on course to meet in the semis, and No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki and defending champion Victoria Azarenka won. The unseeded Henin beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-4, 6-4, and Clijsters, seeded 14th, rolled through Shahar Peer 6-0, 6-1. Wozniacki, slowed by a viral illness and dizziness, beat Maria Kirilenko 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, and No. 4 seed Azarenka beat Lucie Safarova 6-4, 6-2.

Et cetera

Bowling: Brian Ziesig of Levittown, N.Y., won the Plastic Ball Championship in West Babylon, N.Y., to become the first amateur to win a PBA tour event since 2002. After Ziesig rolled three strikes in the 10th frame to tie Australian Jason Belmonte at 247, he won a one-ball rolloff with a strike to Belmonte's nine-count.

College baseball: Outfielder Tyler Holt hit for the cycle as host FSU (19-4, 6-3 ACC) capped a three-game sweep of Maryland with a 9-5 win. … Left-hander Brian Johnson allowed no earned runs over 51/3 innings as Florida (18-5, 4-2 SEC) salvaged the finale of a three-game set, 13-1 vs. host Ole Miss. … Host USF (11-13, 3-0 Big East) beat Notre Dame 10-2 to cap a three-game sweep.

College swimming: Florida's Shaune Fraser defended his 200-meter butterfly title at the men's NCAA championships in Columbus, Ohio, after Mark Dylla of Georgia was disqualified for a one-hand touch on a turn. The Texas men won the team title over Cal 500-4691/2. UF was fifth.

NFL: The Steelers said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has been accused of assault by a Georgia college student, is not expected to join the team for voluntary workouts that start today.

Soccer: The U.S. women increased their unbeaten streak against Mexico to 24 matches (23-0-1) with a 3-0 win in San Diego. Kristine Lilly, 38, became the first U.S. player to appear in a match in each of four decades.

Times wires

Tennis' Rafael Nadal regaining confidence amid tournament victory drought 03/28/10 [Last modified: Monday, March 29, 2010 12:56am]

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