Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal win Madrid Open
MADRID — Serena Williams kept the No. 1, and added No. 50.
Williams beat Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-4 in the final of the Madrid Open Sunday to retain her No. 1 ranking and collect her 50th career title, while Rafael Nadal eased by Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-4 for his fifth title since returning from a knee injury.
The second-ranked Sharapova would have overtaken the top ranking with a win, but Williams stormed out to an early lead as Sharapova struggled with her serve.
Despite Sharapova briefly recovering her poise in the second set, Williams’ form never dipped as she eased to the title.
Williams improved her record against Sharapova to 13-2, with her only two losses coming in 2004.
The 31-year-old Williams, playing in her first red clay final since 2002, dominated Sharapova from the start as the Russian never managed to steady her erratic serve.
Sharapova committed five double faults in her first three service games, dropping the first two as Williams eased to a one-set lead. Her shaky serve let Williams gear up and land several winning shots before closing out the first set with a floating return that clipped the line.
Sharapova earned and converted her first break point to open the second set, opening up a 3-1 advantage.
But the former No. 1-ranked player’s serve again betrayed her as she hit another double fault to cede back her break after Williams had set up three break points with her precise groundstrokes.
Williams closed out the final after Sharapova recorded her eighth and final double fault before hitting the ball long to give up her fifth service game.
Cheered on by the home crowd at the Caja Magica, the fifth-ranked Nadal cruised to his 55th career title and extended his head-to-head record with Wawrinka to 9-0.
Nadal flopped on his back and screamed in joy when his Swiss opponent’s final volley fell long to end the match in one hour and 12 minutes.
It was Nadal’s seventh straight final since recovering from a nagging case of tendinitis in his left knee that sidelined him for seven months.
Nadal imposed his ground game from the start. He worked his opponent around the court with his left-handed shots, and he punished him with passing shots when he tried to come forward.
The local favorite set the tone in the first game by breaking Wawrinka with a vicious flick to land the ball on the sideline.
Nadal, who had won here in 2005 and 2010, roared out to a 4-0 lead in 20 minutes.
The 15th-ranked Wawrinka recovered in the second set and managed to get Nadal’s service game to deuce. But Nadal returned two line-drive shots by Wawrinka at the net before he fired the third try long. Nadal then drove in an ace to end Wawrinka’s challenge.
Oregon tennis player Rovello drowns
EUGENE, Ore. — University of Oregon tennis player Alex Rovello died in a diving accident Saturday at Tamolitch Falls in the Willamette National Forest.
The Linn County Sherriff’s Department says friends and bystanders tried to rescue Rovello after he failed to surface in the Blue Pool at the base off the falls, but they were hampered by the depth of the pool and 37-degree water.
Rovello had a 21-8 match record this past season as a No. 3 and No. 4 singles player. He and partner Daan Maasland also won 16 doubles matches.
A native of Portland, Rovello was a standout at Cleveland High School.
Oregon says Rovello’s family is planning a memorial service for May 18.
China wins 4 more to sweep USA diving grand prix
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Chinese divers won all four events on the final day to sweep the 2013 FINA USA Diving Grand Prix on Sunday.
U.S. Olympic medalist Troy Dumais took silver in the 3-meter springboard behind He Chao’s 53.25 points. China’s Huo Liang and Jian Yang began the day by winning the synchronized men’s platform with 460.77 points, ahead of Germany’s Patrick Hausding and Sascha Klein, and Colombia’s Juan Rios and Victor Ortega.
China’s Jie Lian and Huang Xiaohui finished Nos. 1-2 in the women’s platform.
In the women’s synchronized 3-meter springboard, China’s Zhang Jun and Qu Lin won with 311.40 points. Ukraine’s Anna Pysmenska and Olena Fedorova were second (293.70). Malaysia’s Ng Yan Yee and Cheong Jun Hoong were third (282.90).
Ervin wins 100 free; Lochte takes 2 third places
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Anthony Ervin completed a strong weekend at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte by defeating a competitive field in the 100-meter freestyle that included former Olympians Cullen Jones, Ricky Berens and Garrett Weber-Gale.
Ervin made the turn in a blazing 22.9 seconds and finished in 49.14 to beat out Berens and Michael Klueh. Weber-Gale was fifth and Jones seventh.
The win comes one day after Ervin beat a loaded field in the 50 free.
Eleven-time Olympic medalist Ryan Lochte competed in two events Sunday, finishing third in both the 200 IM and the 200 backstroke. In both events, Lochte led up until the final turn but faded in the final 50 meters.
Lochte has only recently returned to training full time after wrapping up production of his reality TV show.
Westra leads Tour of California after first stage
ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Lieuwe Westra of the Netherlands easily outsprinted Spaniard Francisco Mancebo to claim the sweltering and hilly stage 1 and assumed the overall race Sunday lead at the Amgen Tour of California.
Westra, an eight-year pro who claimed his 12th career win, completed the 102.6-mile Escondido road race in 4 hours, 31 minutes and 33 seconds as temperatures reached into the high 90s.
Mancebo (5-Hour Energy) finished second a few bikes lengths behind on the opening day of the eighth annual race that featured more than 12,000 feet of desert climbing.
Peter Sagan of Slovakia, who won five stages of the race last year, finished third, trailing by 6 seconds.
Westra, the 2012 Dutch national time trial title, received a 10-second bonus and leads Mancebo by 4 seconds in the eight-day race.
Sagan (Cannondale) is third overall, trailing Westra by 12 seconds.
Belkov wins 9th Giro stage with long solo escape
FLORENCE, Italy — Maxim Belkov of Russia won the ninth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Sunday with a superb solo performance, and Vincenzo Nibali retained the overall lead.
Belkov, who rides for Katusha, won in 4 hours, 31 minutes and 31 seconds, beating Carlos Betancur by 44 seconds following a long solo escape on the wet and hilly 170-kilometer (106-mile) ride from San Sepolcro to Florence.
Jarlinson Pantano was third, 46 seconds behind Belkov.
The 28-year-old Belkov attacked 31 miles from the finish and maintained his advantage for his first Grand Tour stage victory.
Nibali finished 10th on the stage to retain the overall leader’s pink jersey. Defending champion Ryder Hesjedal has dropped out of the top 10 and is now more than three minutes behind Nibali.
From wire sources