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Anxious Nadal moves on to quarterfinals

Tue., May 31, 2011

Tennis: Decoding Rafael Nadal’s self-evaluations can be a tricky proposition.

Listen, for example, to the way the top-seeded Nadal spoke about his game and his mindset after handling 37th-ranked Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia 7-5, 6-3, 6-3 Monday to reach the quarterfinals at the French Open, improve his record there to 42-1 and get closer to tying Bjorn Borg’s record of six championships in Paris.

Nadal chastised himself for being “too anxious.” He said he needs to “hit the ball with a little bit more conviction.” Looking at the big picture, Nadal insisted: “The thing is, you have to be (a) realist, and today, I’m not playing well enough to win this tournament.”

Nadal will face No. 5 Robin Soderling of Sweden, the only man to defeat Nadal at the French Open – in the fourth round in 2009. It’s also a rematch of last year’s final, which Nadal won in straight sets.

In other action, 34th-ranked Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina edged Alejandro Falla of Colombia 4-6, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Chela will play No. 4 Andy Murray or No. 15 Viktor Troicki, whose match was suspended because of darkness tied at two sets each.

After a two-year absence from the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam tournament, Maria Sharapova made it back by beating 12th-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 7-6 (4), 7-5. Her quarterfinal opponent will be No. 15 Andrea Petkovic of Germany, who defeated No. 25 Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. Another quarterfinal will have No. 4 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus against No. 6 Li Na of China.

• Johnson, Juricova win NCAA titles: USC’s Steve Johnson beat Tennessee’s Rhyne Williams 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 to win the NCAA men’s singles title in Stanford, Calif.

California’s Jana Juricova beat Stanford’s Stacey Tan, 6-0, 7-6(2), to win the women’s championship.

Virginia earns NCAA lacrosse title

Lacrosse: Colin Briggs scored five goals and seventh-seeded Virginia edged unseeded Maryland 9-7 in the NCAA men’s championship that was held in Baltimore.

Briggs, who did not play in Saturday’s semifinals after being suspended due to a violation of team rules, scored three times on uncontested shots and twice beat defenders 1-on-1, earning the most outstanding player award.

Busche wins USA Cycling road race

Cycling: Matthew Busche won the USA Cycling Pro road race, outsprinting George Hincapie at the line in a rousing finish to the national championships.

Busche and Hincapie were part of a final breakaway of four riders in Greenville, S.C. Hincapie was only a few strides from his fourth road race title when Busche pushed past him.

Ethiopia reigns at Bolder Boulder

Miscellany: With a time of 29 minutes, 22.56 seconds, Belete Assefa has become the third straight Ethiopian to win the men’s 10-kilometer Bolder Boulder men’s race in Colorado.

Two-time defending women’s champion Mamitu Daska of Ethiopia was beaten by Kenya’s Lineth Chepkurui.

• Sale of Thrashers nears completion: The Atlanta Thrashers’ sale to a group that would move the NHL team to Winnipeg could be completed this week, possibly as early as today, it was reported.

The Thrashers’ owners are in negotiations with True North Sports and Entertainment, which would relocate the team to Winnipeg.

• More bribery allegations for FIFA: FIFA’s bribery scandal spread beyond allegations about the presidential election to include the selection of Qatar as the 2022 World Cup host, with evidence that FIFA’s second in command suggested the desert nation had “bought” the right to host the world’s biggest single-sport event.

Qatar’s World Cup organizers swiftly denied the claim.

FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said later that by using the word “bought,” he meant Qatar was using the “financial strength” of an energy rich nation to lobby for backing, but he did not intend to claim any unethical behavior on its part.

• Shackleford arrives at Belmont: Shackleford is in place to run in the Belmont Stakes, arriving in New York after an overnight van ride from Louisville, Ky.

A shorter trip – around the 1 1/2-mile oval at Belmont Park on Wednesday – may determine whether the Preakness winner will compete in the final leg of the Triple Crown in a rubber match against Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom.

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