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Nadal takes five-setter from Djokovic

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates his semifinal victory. (Associated Press)
Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates his semifinal victory. (Associated Press)

Tennis: His dramatic and delightful French Open semifinal was 41/2 hours old – and 14 games into the fifth set – when Rafael Nadal raced from the net to the baseline to retrieve Novak Djokovic’s seemingly unreachable lob.

Many players wouldn’t have bothered to give chase, let alone attempt what Nadal accomplished: With his back to the court, he somehow sent a lob the other way by flipping the ball between his legs.

Perhaps surprised the 11-stroke point was not already his, Djokovic flubbed an easy overhead smash into the net. Two games later, Nadal flicked another, more traditional, defensive lob, and Djokovic sailed his response 5 feet long, the earlier mistake no doubt on his mind.

Three points later, the blink-and-you-miss-something match was over.

In a contest chock full of lengthy exchanges, moments of mastery and occasional lapses by both men, seven-time French Open champion Nadal returned to the final with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7 (3), 9-7 victory over the No. 1-ranked Djokovic in Paris on Friday.

On Sunday, Nadal faces David Ferrer in an all-Spanish final with a chance to become the only man with eight titles at any Grand Slam tournament.

The fourth-seeded Ferrer reached his first Grand Slam final by defeating France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-2 Friday.

Unheralded English leads St. Jude Classic

Golf: Harris English shot a 6-under-par 64 to open a two-stroke lead in the St. Jude Classic at Memphis, Tenn., the final event before the U.S. Open next week at Merion.

English used a hot putter to roll in five birdie putts, holed out from 181 yards for eagle on the par-4 fifth and had only one bogey to finish the second round at 10-under 130.

Shawn Stefani was second after a 65. Paul Haley II and Scott Stallings each shot 68 to reach 5 under.

• Choi out front at LPGA Championship: South Korea’s Chella Choi shot a 5-under 67 to take a one-shot lead over Morgan Pressel after the first round of the rain-delayed LPGA Championship in Pittsford, N.Y.

Winless on the LPGA Tour, Choi had five birdies and in a bogey-free front nine to move into the lead and held on in steady rain over her final seven holes.

Brittany Lincicome was tied for third at 69 with Jiyai Shin, while Jessica Korda was another stroke back, tied for fifth with Se Ri Pak.

Former University of Idaho golfer Kayla Montellaro shot 77 and Edwall, Wash., resident Wendy Ward was at 80.

• Waldorf takes lead in soggy conditions: Duffy Waldorf shot a 4-under 68 to take a one-stroke lead over Jeff Sluman after the soggy, weather-delayed second round of the Regions Tradition in Birmingham, Ala., the second of five Champions Tour majors.

Waldorf had three birdies and a bogey on both the first nine holes and the last nine to top the Shoal Creek leaderboard at 9-under 135.

Sluman, the first-round leader, had a 71. Fred Couples, Mark Calcavecchia, Michael Allen and Canadian Rod Spittle were three strokes back. Couples had a 71, Calcavecchia and Allen shot 69, and Spittle had a 66.

Former Pullman resident Kirk Triplett shot 70 and sits six strokes off the lead.

• Top three paired together: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott will play together the opening two rounds of the U.S. Open next week at Merion in Armdore, Pa.

For the third straight year, U.S. Open officials have put the top three players in the world ranking in the same group.

Diggins helps Shock knock off Storm

Miscellany: Rookie Skylar Diggins scored six of her 12 points in the final two minutes to help the visiting Tulsa Shock beat the Seattle Storm for their first victory of the season.

Glory Johnson scored 17 points to lead Tulsa (1-4), and Candice Wiggins had 13 and Kayla Pedersen 10.

Tina Thompson scored 17 points for Seattle (1-2) and Temeka Johnson added 13.

Diggins, the third overall pick in this year’s WNBA draft, hit a basket and four free throws to help hold off the Storm, who had closed to 57-52.

• Bruins win opener: Eric Filia broke a 10th-inning tie with an RBI single – his fourth hit of the game – and Pat Valaika drove in another run with a sacrifice fly in UCLA’s 5-3 victory over Cal State Fullerton in Game 1 of the best-of-three NCAA super regional series at Fullerton, Calif.

Pac-12 pitcher of the year David Berg (7-0) struck out JD Davis and Michael Lorenzen with two runners on in the bottom of the inning for the Bruins.

Also, Aaron Nola threw a two-hitter, pinch-hitter Tyler Moore belted a run-scoring double off Oklahoma ace Jonathan Gray to break a scoreless tie in the eighth, and LSU took Game 1 of the NCAA Baton Rouge super regional, 2-0.

The South Carolina at North Carolina and Rice at North Carolina State games were postponed by rain and rescheduled for today.

• Stanford’s Carter sets record in 400 hurdles: Stanford junior Kori Carter won the women’s 400-meter hurdles in a collegiate-record 53:21 seconds in the NCAA outdoor track and field championships.

Carter broke the mark of 53.54 set by UCLA’s Sheena Johnson at the NCAA outdoor championships in 2004. It was the fastest time in the world this season.

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