Rafael Nadal returns a shot against Richard Gasquet during a 7-5, 6-1 victory… (Alessandro Di Meo / EPA )
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic will resume their budding rivalry in the Italian Open final at Rome on Sunday.
Nadal overcame a stiff first-set challenge from Richard Gasquet before rolling to a 7-5, 6-1 win in the semifinals Saturday, and Djokovic was pushed to the limit in a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (2) victory over fourth-ranked Andy Murray, extending his unbeaten streak to 38 matches after 3 hours and 1 minute of grueling baseline rallies.
Djokovic beat Nadal in title matches at Indian Wells and Miami this year, then also won in Madrid last weekend, his first victory over the Spaniard on clay.
This tournament is another key clay warmup for the French Open, which starts next weekend.
Nadal has won this tournament five of the last six years and owns a 31-1 record at the Foro Italico. Djokovic has won all 36 of his matches this year, trailing only John McEnroe's 42-0 start in 1984.
In the women's final, Maria Sharapova will meet last year's French Open runner-up, Sam Stosur.
Sharapova outslugged top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, 7-5, 6-3, and Stosur beat fourth-seeded Li Na of China, 7-6 (6), 6-0.
Boogaard's brain donated to science
The parents of New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard, who was found dead Friday in his Minneapolis apartment, have donated their son's brain to researchers at Boston University who are studying the effects of brain trauma on athletes.
No cause has been established for the death of Boogaard, 28, whose body was found by family members. An explanation might come to light through toxicology tests, which take about two weeks to process.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Boogaard's parents made the decision to donate their oldest son's brain in order to help advance studies on the vexing and complicated problems of head trauma. Boogaard suffered a concussion during the regular season and had not played since Dec. 9.
Fans left flowers in tribute to Boogaard at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., home of his previous team, the Minnesota Wild. Many players offered condolences via Twitter, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement offering his condolences Saturday.
ESPN hockey analyst and former NHL player Matthew Barnaby pleaded not guilty to charges related to a "domestic incident" at an upstate New York home, police said.
The 38-year-old Barnaby was arrested Friday and spent the night in jail after being picked up at a home in Getzville, a hamlet in Amherst where his wife and two children live, police said.
He pleaded not guilty to five charges, including criminal mischief, criminal trespass and harassment, and was released on his own recognizance.
In the NCAA women's water polo national semifinals at Ann Arbor, Mich., No. 1 Stanford beat No. 4 USC, 8-4, and No. 2 California beat No. 3 UCLA, 7-4. Stanford will play Cal for the national championship Sunday, and UCLA and USC will play for third place. UC Irvine beat Iona, 15-4, in the consolation round and will play Indiana for fifth place.
Reggie Bush is back in New Orleans, where he's backing away from recent Twitter posts that indicated he may not see the Saints in his future.
"I would love to retire here if possible," Bush said Saturday. "I would love to play for the Saints for however long my career, God willing, allows me to play. First and foremost, I want to be a Saint."
Bush spoke during his annual youth football camp at Tulane, on the same fields where he's been absent while teammates have been taking part in workouts organized by Saints quarterback Drew Brees during the NFL lockout.
Charles Oakley, one of the NBA's all-time tough guys and now a Charlotte Bobcats assistant, has sued a Las Vegas resort over what he calls a May 2010 "gang-style beat down" by security guards who injured him.
Oakley filed the lawsuit Thursday in Clark County District Court against the Aria hotel-casino at MGM Resorts International's CityCenter complex, the Las Vegas Sun reported. Five security officers also were named in the lawsuit.
The complaint alleges negligence, assault, assault with excessive force, battery, false imprisonment and defamation. It seeks unspecified general, special and punitive damages.
An MGM Resorts International spokeswoman said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.