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Nadal Beats Federer for Dubai Open Title

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Rafael Nadal, playing only his second tournament in four months after recovering from a foot injury, beat top-ranked Roger Federer, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, on Saturday in the final of the Dubai Open in the United Arab Emirates.

Federer had won this event the last three years. The Swiss player had won his two other tournaments in 2006, the Australian Open and Doha Open.

Nadal, seeded and ranked second, ended Federer’s 56-match hardcourt winning streak. The Spaniard won in less than two hours.

“I think it is unbelievable to win against the best player in the world -- perhaps the best in history of the game,” said Nadal, who broke down in tears on the court. “It was also special because I was out of the game for more than three months. I cried because I was happy.”

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Federer said he was happy with his game despite his loss.

“I think Nadal deserved to win because he played so consistent. I started off really well, but sprayed a little toward the end,” Federer said. “But I am very happy with my game right now. And hopefully, I will pay him back soon.”

Federer won the opening set in 28 minutes. Federer served well and went to the net successfully several times.

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Nadia Petrova beat Australian Open champion Amelie Mauresmo, 6-3, 7-5, to win the Qatar Open in Doha for the second WTA title of her career.

In defeating the world’s No. 2 player, Petrova becomes the third Russian to win the Qatar title in six years. Anastasia Myskina won twice, along with Maria Sharapova.

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Top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt overcame a sluggish start to beat Paul Goldstein, 3-6, 6-1, 6-0, in the semifinals of the Tennis Channel Open at Las Vegas.

Hewitt, ranked No. 10 in the world, will face No. 5 seed James Blake in today’s championship. Blake beat Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, 7-6 (2), 6-1, in their semifinal match.

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Second-seeded Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany beat defending champion Flavia Pennetta of Italy, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2, to win the Mexican Open at Acapulco.

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Blake, and Mike and Bob Bryan, all U.S. Davis Cup players, will participate in the annual Desert Smash tennis and golf charity event at La Quinta Tuesday and Wednesday.

The event, sponsored by Centex Destination Properties and benefiting the Tim and Tom Gullikson Foundation, will have tennis festivities and an awards dinner later that night, and a golf event Wednesday, hosted by actor Joe Pesci.

Tim Gullikson, a former tour tennis star, died of a brain tumor in 1996. His twin brother, Tom, also a tour player, heads the foundation that benefits brain tumor patients.

GOLF

Woods Takes Control With Four-Under 68

Tiger Woods recovered from a double bogey to surge into the lead, then carved a shot through the trees on the final hole and escaped with a four-under 68 that left him two shots clear of Daniel Chopra and Rich Beem entering the final round of the Ford Championship at Doral in Miami.

Six players had a share of the lead at some point until Woods emerged from the pack with three birdies in a row on the back nine and finished at 17-under 199.

Phil Mickelson, playing in the final group with Woods that brought out a record crowd of 37,000, slowly lost ground on the back nine before hitting off barren grass into the water on the 18th. He made a 15-footer to save bogey, but still wound up four shots behind.

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Woods is 33-3 on the PGA Tour when he has at least a share of the 54-hole lead.

PRO FOOTBALL

NFL, Players’ Union Break Off Talks

Talks between the NFL and its players union broke off in New York with no progress, and although the league said the sides would meet again today, the union said it wasn’t sure.

The stalemate increased the possibility that many high-priced free agents would become available on the market as teams struggled to get under the salary cap by 3 p.m. PST today. Free agency would begin six hours later.

“No progress has been made, but we expect more discussions to take place before Sunday night,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

Troy Vincent of the Buffalo Bills, the president of the NFL Players Assn., concurred that there had been little movement. And Gene Upshaw, the union’s executive director, flew home to Washington and said he was unaware of any meeting scheduled for today.

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Tom Walsh, who was fired by the Oakland Raiders along with new Coach Art Shell after the 1994 season, was named the team’s offensive coordinator.

Since being fired by the Raiders, Walsh was head coach for two seasons at Idaho State and worked as director of operations and head coach of a minor league franchise in Mobile, Ala. He has been out of football since 1999. The Raiders must also decide today how to get below the salary cap of $94.5 million. Reports indicate the team may cut quarterback Kerry Collins.

AUTO RACING

Fight-Marred Race Won by Pruett, Diaz

Pole sitter Scott Pruett and hometown driver Luis Diaz turned in a near-flawless performance for a victory in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series in Mexico City in a race marred by a crash on Lap 73 that led to a fight between Chris Bingham and JC France.

Bingham, in the No. 40 Pontiac, tried to pass France’s No. 59 Porsche on the inside, triggering contact that sent both cars into the wall around the eighth and final turn.

Bingham climbed from his car, pushed France and threw a quick punch. France responded with a flurry of blows before pinning Bingham on the track. Firefighters and others working to clear the two battered cars were slow to pull the drivers apart. Both drivers and their teams were asked to meet with Grand Am officials.

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Boris Said, a road-course specialist born in New York, won the pole for the Telcel-Motorola 200 in Mexico City, the second race south of the border in NASCAR’s Busch Series.

Said averaged 1 minute, 28.295 seconds while reaching a top speed of 102.665 mph.

MISCELLANY

Iditarod Is Set to Begin Today

The 11-mile ceremonial start of the Iditarod was held through the streets of Anchorage, with the official start of the race set for today in Willow, 65 miles north.

Willow is serving as a stand-in starting area for the third consecutive year because of scarce snow in the traditional start town of Wasilla, 25 miles down the trail.

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American speedskater Shani Davis outperformed teammate Joey Cheek to win the overall World Cup title in the 1,000 meters at Heerenveen, Netherlands.

Olympic champion Davis clocked 1 minute, 8.91 seconds; Cheek came in 13th and finished second in the overall rankings. Jan Bos was second in 1:09.00 and Jeremy Wotherspoon was third.

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Janica Kostelic took a big step toward winning the World Cup overall title by winning the combined at Hafjell, Norway, edging Anja Paerson by 0.13 seconds. Kostelic, who won the Olympic combined gold at the Turin Games, had a total time of 2 minutes, 6.92 seconds in the super-G and slalom.

Lindsey Kildow, the American who shared the win with Dorfmeister and Nadia Styger of Switzerland in an unprecedented three-way tie in Friday’s super-G, finished fourth in 2:08.31. Kostelic has 1,500 points in the overall standings, with Paerson next at 1,241.

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Referees at the World Cup will eject players who elbow or tackle recklessly. A meeting of the governing body’s International Football Assn. Board at Lucerne, Switzerland, also approved yellow cards for shirt-pulling or holding an opponent, as well as for playing the ball after the referee’s whistle. The tournament will be held June 9-July 9.

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Jose Guillen will not have wrist surgery after receiving a second medical opinion that recommended rehabilitation. Guillen led the Washington Nationals last season with 24 home runs. He batted .283 and had 76 runs batted in.

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Jonathan Horton, a sophomore at Oklahoma, edged Olympian Hisashi Mizutori of Japan in the men’s competition, and Nastia Liukin held off fellow American Shayla Worley to win the women’s event at the American Cup of gymnastics at Philadelphia. The American Cup was the first meet to use gymnastics’ new scoring system. After several judging errors at the Athens Olympics, the International Gymnastics Federation did away with its 10.0 score.

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The UCLA gymnastics team plays host to Stanford and San Jose State today at 2 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion.

It will be the final home meet for the Bruins’ Kate Richardson, a 10-time All-American who has been on two national championship teams. She is a winner of two individual NCAA titles and owner of nine perfect-10 scores.


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