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STRONGER NADAL GROWS HIS BARCELONA HAUL TO 8

Tennis

BARCELONA, Spain - All those months of rehab are starting to pay off for fifth-ranked Rafael Nadal, but he's still not sure what this means for the French Open.

Nadal won the Barcelona Open for the eighth time Sunday, defeating Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-3 for his fourth title of 2013.

With the French Open about a month away, the victory is a promising sign that Nadal is near full strength after a knee injury that sidelined him since last summer.

"It has been an important week for me to win here again and a great source of joy after everything I have been through," said Nadal, who has made six straight finals since returning from injury. He has won 39 straight matches on the clay here, his last loss coming 10 years ago to Alex Corretja.

Still, Nadal was hesitant to say how his 54th career title might carry over to Roland Garros, where he has won a record seven times.

"This win doesn't mean much," he said. "Just that I am in good form since I have come back. The results are fantastic. I would never have imagined them and they are better than I had dreamed. I am back playing at a high level."

More Tennis

Sharapova also rolls on clay

In a matchup of the last two French Open champions, Maria Sharapova beat Li Na 6-4, 6-3 to defend her WTA Porsche Grand Prix title in Stuttgart, Germany.

The top-seeded Russian swept to her second title of the year after winning in Indian Wells, Calif. She became the first player to retain the Stuttgart title since Lindsey Davenport in 2005.

"I thought it'd be the toughest match of the tournament, but I played my best tennis," said Sharapova, who won for the 16th straight time on clay in getting her 29th career title. "I was able to step it up."

The second-seeded Li double-faulted on match point. "I was under pressure on her return," Li said. "She was aggressive."

Grand Prix SAR: Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone won her first title in nearly a year, beating Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-1, 6-3 in Morocco.

Arena Football

McPherson carries Storm

Former Florida State quarterback Adrian McPherson accounted for 10 touchdowns and the Storm handed host Spokane its first loss of the season 70-62 late Saturday night.

The Storm (4-2) intercepted Erik Meyer twice, ending his string of 193 pass attempts without a pick, and held the Shock to seven points in the first half.

McPherson (21-for-36, 310 passing yards, no interceptions) threw for seven touchdowns and ran for three scores. Receiver Joe Hills caught nine passes for 177 yards and five touchdowns, extending his streak of multiple-TD games to 10.

ET cetera

Horses: Florida Derby winner Itsmyluckyday and Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents took their first jogs around Churchill Downs in Louisville less than a week before the Kentucky Derby.

Soccer: Tottenham star Gareth Bale, 23, was voted player of the year and young player of the year in English soccer. He is the first player to win both of the Professional Footballers' Association's main awards since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007. ... Giles Barnes scored the equalizer in the 56th minute as Houston extended its Major League Soccer-record home unbeaten streak to 36 games with a 1-1 draw against Colorado. Houston has not lost at home since a 2-0 loss to Columbus on June 18, 2011.

Times wires

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