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Rafael Nadal gets his swagger back with win

The Spaniard defeats David Nalbandian in three sets to capture the Sony Ericsson Open.

March 28, 2010|Wire reports

That sweaty but happy contestant skipping across the court in the neon yellow shirt Sunday was Rafael Nadal, no longer No. 1 but waving his index finger anyway after a third-round victory in the Sony Ericsson Open at Key Biscayne, Fla.

It has been 10 months since Nadal won a tournament, but he showed some of his old championship swagger by rallying past dangerous wild card David Nalbandian, 6-7 (8), 6-2, 6-2.

Nadal, seeded fourth, remained on course for a showdown against the real No. 1, rival Roger Federer. They haven't met since May in Madrid, but their paths to the final became easier when No. 2 Novak Djokovic and No. 3 Andy Murray lost their opening matches.

A potential semifinal opponent is No. 6 Andy Roddick, who reached the final 16 by beating Sergiy Stakhovsky in 55 minutes, 6-2, 6-1.

Nadal will next face fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, who beat Ivo Karlovic, 7-6 (5), 6-3.

Advancing to the women's fourth round were Grand Slam champions Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters.

MOTOR RACING

Button prevails in Australia

McLaren's Jenson Button survived a first-corner collision and successfully gambled on a bold tire strategy to win a thrilling Formula One Australian Grand Prix.

Button was the first driver prepared to change from intermediate tires to slicks on a drying track, and drove the final 52 laps on a wearing set of soft tires to claim consecutive race wins in Melbourne.

Renault's Robert Kubica was 12 seconds behind in second place, driving doggedly to hold off faster rivals and finish ahead of Ferrari pair Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso.

NASCAR's bad weather luck at Martinsville Speedway reared its head again as rain forced the postponement of the Sprint Cup race until Monday at 9 a.m. PDT.

With several inches of water pooling on many sections of the low-lying track, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was postponed after a band of thunderstorms pounded the Florida course.

Monday's event is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. PDT.

Rain and a forecast for more severe weather forced NHRA officials to postpone the completion of the inaugural NHRA Four-Wide Nationals to Monday at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

Tommy Hayden raced to his first SuperBike victory in the Suzuki AMA Pro SuperBike Challenge Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Runner-up was Josh Hayes; Blake Young finished third.

BASKETBALL

Iowa hires Siena's McCaffery

Iowa has hired Siena Coach Fran McCaffery as the Hawkeyes' new coach.

Athletic Director Gary Barta announced the hiring and said McCaffery would be introduced in a news conference on Monday in Iowa City.

McCaffery was 112-51 in five seasons at Siena, leading the Saints to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.

McCaffery replaces Todd Lickliter, who was fired after Iowa finished 10-22 this season.

Kevin Willard is leaving Iona to become Seton Hall's coach.

A person familiar with the hiring told the Associated Press that Willard, 34, has agreed to replace Bobby Gonzalez, who was fired March 17.

The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the university isn't expected to announce the agreement until Monday.

Allen Crabbe from Los Angeles Price and Tyler Lamb from Santa Ana Mater Dei have been selected to the Parade magazine All-American team for boys' basketball. They were fourth-team honorees.

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