Rafael Nadal easily beats Roger Federer

Rafael Nadal beat rival Roger Federer, 6-3, 6-2, Friday to advance to the final at the Sony Ericsson Open at Key Biscayne, Fla.

The No. 1-ranked Nadal won with surprising ease, holding every service game and converting four of five break-point chances. Nadal, seeking his first Key Biscayne title, has held in 47 of his 48 service games in the tournament.

Federer shanked several shots and committed 31 unforced errors to 10 for Nadal.

Nadal's opponent Sunday will be No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who stretched his winning streak to 25 consecutive matches by beating American Mardy Fish, 6-3, 6-1.

Nadal improved to 15-8 against Federer. Their showdown was the first in the United States since the 2005 Key Biscayne final, won by Federer.

PGA rookie Chris Kirk leads Houston Open

PGA Tour rookie Chris Kirk shot a three-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead at the Houston Open over defending champion Anthony Kim and 2008 winner Johnson Wagner after two rounds at Redstone.

Kirk was nine under par, and played his last few holes just as the wind picked up in the afternoon and made scoring more difficult.

Kim and Wagner took advantage of the calm morning conditions and used their background at the course to move into contention. Kim shot a 64, the lowest round of the day, and Wagner had a 67.

Padraig Harrington, first-round leader Jimmy Walker and Josh Teater were two shots back at seven under.

Organizers groomed the Tournament Course at Redstone to simulate conditions that players will see at the Masters next week, and the set-up lured many of the world's top players to Houston.

Phil Mickelson (70) and Lee Westwood (72) were part of a large group at four under and Ernie Els (72) and Fred Couples (72) were among the players at one under.

Jeff Sluman takes first-round lead at Champions Tour event

Jeff Sluman tied a course record with a six-under-par 66 to take a one-shot lead over Tom Lehman at the Champions Tour's Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic at Fallen Oak.

Sluman had a bogey-free round, highlighted by an eagle from 154 yards on the par-four No. 4. Tom Lehman, who leads the standings, is in second place after a 67. He also shot a bogey-free round.

Julia Mancuso wins slalom at U.S. championships

Julia Mancuso needed a little motivation, a little nudge to get her mind focused on defending her title. A fast opening run from Sarah Schleper provided just the push.

Mancuso turned in a swift second run on soft snow to overtake Schleper at U.S. championships at Winter Park, Colo., and capture a third straight giant slalom crown. She picked up her 12th national title, extending her record for most by an American.

Lindsey Vonn did not compete, resting a balky right knee after an exhausting World Cup season.

15 teams preparing for bigger, faster America's Cup

The new-look America's Cup will begin this summer with 15 teams from a record 12 countries sailing fast catamarans in a true World Series.

Organizers said Friday in San Diego that 14 challengers from around the globe, plus defending champion Oracle Racing of San Francisco, have signed up for the 34th America's Cup. They also announced Portugal, England and San Diego as the first three stops on the new America's Cup World Series.

Other AC World Series regattas will follow during the buildup to the 2013 America's Cup on San Francisco Bay.

The latest entrant to announce was Italy's Venezia Challenge. Other countries with teams that have announced are Sweden, New Zealand, France, China and Australia. It's believed that Korea and Canada will be represented.

The first season of the AC World Series will run into July 2012 and be sailed in 45-foot wing-sailed catamarans. The second season will begin in San Francisco in August 2012 with a 72-foot version of the fast cat. The 72-footers will be used in the America's Cup itself, replacing the plodding sloops that were used from 1992 to 2007. A champion will be crowned at the end of each season.

Max Pacioretty returns to practice for Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens' Max Pacioretty went for a short skate on his own before the team's practice on Friday, his first since suffering a severe concussion.

He suffered a concussion and a fractured vertebra after a hit from Boston's Zdeno Chara on March 8.

Coach Jacques Martin said the short skate is the start of his rehabilitation. Pacioretty's agent Alex Schall said this week he does not expect him to be ready to play until training camp.

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