Nadal’s Clay Win­ning Streak Sits at 71 Matches in a Row

The Washington Post Sunday - - On The Air Sunday Morning -

Two-time de­fend­ing cham­pion Rafael Nadal beat fifth-seeded David Fer­rer, 7-5, 6-1, yes­ter­day in Barcelona for his 71st straight win on clay and a place in the Open Seat Godo fi­nal against Guillermo Cañas.

Nadal ex­ploited Fer­rer’s sec­ond serve for 10 win­ners in the open­ing set of the all-Span­ish semi­fi­nal. He broke Fer­rer’s serve three times in the sec­ond set.

The 12th-seeded Cañas beat Agustin Cal­leri, 7-6 (7-1), 6-7 (7-5), 6-2, in an all-Ar­gen­tine match to ad­vance to his sec­ond straight fi­nal. He lost to No­vak Djokovic at the Sony Eric­s­son Open ear­lier this month.

“The first set was re­ally tough,” Nadal said. “The key to win this match was to find the rhythm in my fore­hand. David is very quick and one of the best play­ers in the world. It was a very com­pli­cated match to­day.”

The 21-year-old Nadal can tie Mats Wi­lan­der’s 23-year-old record of three straight cham­pi­onships at the Barcelona tour­na­ment. He also would equal Roy Emer­son and Manuel Orantes’s record of three ti­tles in Barcelona. K AUTO RAC­ING: Bobby Labonte pushed team­mate Tony Ste­wart to the lead, then won with a dra­matic pass in the last 200 yards in the NASCAR Busch Se­ries race at Tal­ladega (Ala.) Su­per­speed­way.

Labonte, a Nex­tel Cup star, came away with his 10th Busch win and first since 1998, beat­ing Ste­wart, a two-time Cup cham­pion, to the fin­ish line by less than a car-length in the race that came down to a green-white-checker fin­ish be­cause of a late cau­tion. K CRICKET: In Bridgetown, Bar­ba­dos, Aus­tralia won an un­prece­dented third straight World Cup with a 53-run win over Sri Lanka in a rain-short­ened fi­nal. K GYM­NAS­TICS: Court­ney Ku­pets of Gaithers­burg scored 9.90 points or bet­ter in three of four events to lead Ge­or­gia to its third straight NCAA women’s gym­nas­tics ti­tle Fri­day night in Salt Lake City.

Ku­pets, a sopho­more who won her sec­ond straight all-around ti­tle the day be­fore, capped the Gym Dogs’ stel­lar floor ex­er­cise with a 9.950 that al­lowed Ge­or­gia to pull ahead of host Utah and Florida en­ter­ing the fi­nal ro­ta­tion.

The Gym Dogs had only the vault to go and clinched it with an­other solid round.

Ku­pets got a 9.90 and Tif­fany Tol­nay sealed it with a 9.925 on the fi­nal vault.

Katie Heenan (South Rid­ing) scored a 9.95 on the vault for Ge­or­gia.

Utah, helped by a 9.95 from Ash­ley Postell (Burke) in the floor ex­er­cise, was sec­ond for the sec­ond year in a row.

— From News Ser­vices

BY MICHAEL STEELE — GETTY IMAGES

Rafael Nadal of Spain has a chance to match Mats Wi­lan­der’s mark of three straight ti­tles in Barcelona with a win in the fi­nal against Guillermo Cañas.

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