Nadal rallies in French Open first-rounder

Spain’s Rafael Nadal got off to a slow start before rallying to win his first-round match on Monday as he begins his quest to capture a record eighth French Open men’s singles championship. (Associated Press)
Spain’s Rafael Nadal got off to a slow start before rallying to win his first-round match on Monday as he begins his quest to capture a record eighth French Open men’s singles championship. (Associated Press)

Tennis: Rafael Nadal survived an early scare and successfully began his bid for an eighth French Open title by rallying past Daniel Brands of Germany, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-3 in Paris.

Nadal, who had lost only 14 sets in 53 previous matches at Roland Garros, fell behind when he was broken in the ninth game and was on the verge of digging a deeper hole Monday. He trailed 3-0 in the tiebreaker, then summoned his best shot-making to salvage the set and soon was in control.

The Spaniard, who won a record seventh French Open title last year, improved to 53-1 at Roland Garros. He’s 37-2 since returning in February after a seven-month layoff because of a left knee injury, reaching the finals at all eight previous tournaments he played this year and winning six.

• Rola, Gibbs win NCAA titles: Blaz Rola of Ohio State and Nicole Gibbs of Stanford won NCAA singles titles in Urbana, Ill.

Gibbs repeated as women’s champion after routing a hobbled Mary Weatherholt of Nebraska 6-2, 6-4. Rola, who is from Slovenia, became the first men’s tennis champion for the Buckeyes, beating Jarmere Jenkins of Virginia 7-6 (8), 6-4.

Della Donne shines in WNBA debut

Basketball: Elena Della Donne outplayed double-dunking Brittney Griner and had the third-best rookie debut in WNBA history, scoring 22 points to lead the Chicago Sky to a 102-80 victory over the Phoenix Mercury in Phoenix.

The No. 2 overall pick behind Griner in this year’s draft, Delle Donne had 16 points by halftime as the Sky raced out to a 24-point lead. She added eight rebounds and finished only behind Candace Parker’s 34-point debut for Los Angeles in 2008 and the 25 points Cynthia Cooper scored for Houston in 1997.

Griner became the third WNBA player to dunk and first to do it twice in one game. She had 17 points and eight rebounds.

• Latta sparks Mystics: Ivory Latta scored 27 points and Washington held Tulsa without a field goal in overtime as the Mystics won 95-90 in Tulsa, Okla.

Trailing by two with 23.3 seconds left in regulation, Glory Johnson hit two free throws to tie it at 88. In overtime, the Mystics outscored Tulsa 7-2. Latta’s two free throws with 16.2 seconds left in OT sealed the win.

• Bobcats hire Clifford: Two people familiar with the situation say the Charlotte Bobcats have hired Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford to become their new coach.

Clifford replaces Mike Dunlap, who was fired after going 21-61 in his only season.

Clifford has worked as an assistant in New York, Houston, Orlando and Los Angeles, but has never been a head coach at the NBA level.

He becomes the sixth coach of the Bobcats since 2007.

Duke wins NCAA men’s lacrosse title

Miscellany: Duke rallied from an early deficit to beat Syracuse 16-10 in Philadelphia and win its second NCAA men’s lacrosse title.

The Blue Devils trailed 5-0 in the second quarter.

Jordan Wolf had four goals for Duke (16-5). Josh Offit and Josh Dionne each scored three times.

But the real star for the Blue Devils was junior faceoff man Brendan Fowler, who won 13 straight at one point to give Duke possession for long stretches. Fowler won 20 of 28 faceoffs overall and was honored as the game’s most outstanding player.

The Blue Devils failed to score on their first 11 shots but closed out with 10 of the game’s last 13 goals.

Dylan Donahue led Syracuse (16-4) with three goals.

• Big earnings for Kanaan: Tony Kanaan won nearly $2.4 million for his victory at the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

The earnings were announced at the Indianapolis 500 Victory Awards Celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Checks were handed out at the lavish annual event, and Kanaan’s total was $2,353,500.

It was a steep drop in earnings for the second-place finisher, but 21-year-old Colombian Carlos Munoz, named the rookie of the year, probably isn’t complaining about $964,205.

Third-place finisher Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending IndyCar champion, earned $583,005.

• Rutgers A.D. won’t resign: Julie Hermann has not considered resigning as Rutgers’ incoming athletic director following reports that 16 years ago she humiliated and emotionally abused players while coaching Tennessee’s women’s volleyball team.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Hermann denied having knowledge of a letter 16 Tennessee players submitted to the school. Rutgers officials have talked to her about it in recent days.

The 49-year-old Hermann acknowledged she was an intense coach and may have made a few mistakes handling her team. Hermann said she has matured and believes she is qualified to lead the scandal-marred Rutgers athletic program.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to examine the appointment before Hermann begins June 17.

• Sahara Sky takes Met Mile: Sahara Sky came barreling down the middle of the track and caught Cross Traffic at the end to win the $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park in New York.

The finish was a thriller. Cross Traffic took the lead in the stretch and seemed headed to victory before Sahara Sky unleashed his run from near the back of the nine-horse field. Under the urging of jockey Joel Rosario, Sahara Sky made up ground with every stride and won in a photo finish.

• Kiprono defends title: Allan Kiprono defended his Bolder Boulder crown as he led Kenya to the International Team Challenge title, ending Ethiopia’s six-year reign in the Memorial Day road race in Boulder, Colo.

Merima Mohammed of Ethiopia cruised to an easy victory in the women’s race.

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