Djokovic slows Nadal’s ascent

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Rafael Nadal’s move to No. 1 will have to wait a couple of more weeks.

Looking weary after two months of nonstop winning, the second-seeded Nadal got run around the court Saturday and, ultimately, bounced from the Cincinnati Masters one step short of another title match.

Instead, third-seeded Novak Djokovic reached the final with a 6-1, 7-5 victory that delayed the inevitable.

Djokovic will play eighth-seeded Andy Murray for the title today. Murray reached his first Masters series final by beating 16th-seeded Ivo Karlovic, 6-4, 6-4.


By reaching the semifinals, Nadal piled up enough points to overtake Roger Federer as the world’s No. 1 player. Given the way points accrue -- the last 52 weeks are counted -- he will surpass Federer in the Aug. 18 rankings.

Federer has been No. 1 for a record 235 consecutive weeks. He and Nadal have been ranked 1-2 since July 25, 2005. Nadal will become the third Spaniard to hold the No. 1 spot, joining Carlos Moya (1999) and Juan Carlos Ferrero (2003).

He could have moved up immediately by winning in Cincinnati, but wore down as the tournament went along.

Djokovic ended Nadal’s long run of winning tennis -- 32 consecutive matches, five straight tournaments -- by being more aggressive and making Nadal work hard for every point.


Djokovic ran off the first eight points in the match, and allowed Nadal to win only six points while he pulled ahead, 5-0. During the second set, Nadal missed a backhand so badly that the ball flew into the fifth row of seats behind the baseline.

Teenager Dominika Cibulkova ousted her fourth seeded player of the tournament, rallying after a rain delay to defeat 10th-seeded Marion Bartoli, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, to reach the final of the Rogers Cup at Montreal.

The 19-year-old Cibulkova will play seventh-seeded Dinara Safina for the championship. Safina advanced with a 6-0, 2-6, 6-3 victory over 11th-seeded Victoria Azarenka.

Cibulkova, the world’s 31st-ranked player, has defeated fifth-seeded Elena Dementieva, 12th-seeded Nadia Petrova, second-seeded Jelena Jankovic and Bartoli to reach her second WTA Tour final.


Jelena Jankovic has assured herself of moving up to No. 1 in the WTA rankings later this month.

Jankovic, who never has reached a Grand Slam event singles final, will become the 18th player to lead the WTA computer rankings when she rises to the top spot Aug. 11.

Currently No. 2, Jankovic will move ahead of Ana Ivanovic, who has led the rankings since June 9, the day after winning the French Open.

According to the ranking projections released by the tour, Jankovic will have 3,620 points to Ivanovic’s 3,612 on Aug. 11.



Smith suspended two games for fighting

Wide receiver Steve Smith was suspended two games by the Carolina Panthers after a training camp fight with cornerback Ken Lucas.

Smith, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, will continue to practice when training camp resumes Monday and will be allowed to participate in exhibition games, Coach John Fox said.


Lucas, who left the practice field at Wofford College on Friday with ice over his left eye, has a broken nose, Fox said. Smith was kicked out of practice and sent back to Charlotte.

The Green Bay Packers agreed to terms with running back Ryan Grant, allowing one of last season’s surprise breakout stars to report to training camp as early as today.

Agent Alan Herman said Grant has agreed to a four-year deal that could be worth up to $30 million. He will make $4.25 million this season.

The Indianapolis Colts will be without 14 players when they face the Washington Redskins tonight in the Hall of Fame Game at Canton, Ohio.


Among those not scheduled to make the trip are two-time league MVP Peyton Manning, star wide receiver Marvin Harrison, 2007 defensive player of the year Bob Sanders, defensive end Dwight Freeney and linebacker Philip Wheeler, a third-round draft pick who is scheduled to have knee surgery.


Clottey defeats Judah to win IBF championship

Joshua Clottey of Ghana finally made the most of his precious few title shots, winning the vacant International Boxing Federation welterweight championship with a unanimous decision over Zab Judah of Brooklyn, N.Y., at the Palms Casino in Las Vegas.


Clottey connected with a right-hand to Judah’s left eye in the ninth round that immediately sent blood rushing down his face.

Ringside physician James Game examined Judah, who claimed he couldn’t see, and the fight was called at the 1:22 mark.

Clottey was ahead, 86-85, on two of the judges’ scorecards and 87-84 on the other.



Boss and Ross reach semifinals in San Diego

In the final AVP Crocs Tour tournament before the month-long Olympic Games break, the top-seeded women’s team of Jen Boss and April Ross advanced to the semifinals of the AVP Crocs Slam San Diego by defeating 16th-seeded Keao Burdine and Jennifer Snyder, 21-16, 21-17, and the eighth-seeded Lindquist sisters -- Katie and Tracy -- 21-11, 21-10.

Second-seeded Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan also reached the semifinals, beating 15th-seeded Ashley Ivy and Heather Lowe, 21-16, 21-13, and seventh-seeded Jenny Kropp and Nancy Mason, 21-18, 21-17.

In the men’s draw, top-seeded Nick Lucena and Sean Scott struggled before beating ninth-seeded Hans Stolfus and Jason Ring, 25-27, 21-16, 15-10.



Brown leads U.S. Olympic team past Canada, 7-2

Matt Brown drove in four runs to lead the U.S. Olympic team to a 7-2 victory over Canada in the second game of a four-game exhibition series at Durham, N.C. Canada won Friday night’s opener, 4-3, in 10 innings.

Brown -- one for 13 with two RBIs during a five-game stint three months ago with the Angels -- had two hits. He drove in his first run in the first inning, had a run-scoring single in the third and a two-run triple in the fifth to make it 5-0.