Nadal will rise to No. 1
Rafael Nadal of Spain was assured of taking the No. 1 ranking in the world from Novak Djokovic after advancing to the final of the China Open on Saturday when Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic retired with a back injury.
Nadal was a break up at 4-2 in the opening set of their semifinal in Beijing when Berdych retired soon after taking an injury timeout.
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Defending champion Djokovic, who is from Serbia, posted a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Richard Gasquet of France in the other semifinal.
Even if he loses to Djokovic in the final Sunday, Nadal will top the rankings.
Nadal, who improved to 27-0 on hard courts this season, will return to the top spot for the first time since July 2011. Djokovic has been No. 1 for 101 weeks.
“The personal satisfaction is not because I am No. 1 today, it’s because (of) all the work to be where I am today,” Nadal said. “I don’t feel (like) a better player now than five hours ago, and I won’t go to bed tonight feeling that I am the best player in the world. That’s something I’ve never thought.”
Nadal, the reigning French Open and U.S. Open champion, has had a dominant year since returning in February from a seven-month layoff because of a left-knee injury. He has won 10 titles and has an ATP Tour-best record of 65-3 this season.
Djokovic, who is looking for his fourth title in five years at the China Open, improved to 9-1 against Gasquet.
In the women’s draw, top-ranked Serena Williams of the United States and Jelena Jankovic of Serbia advanced to the final.
Williams beat Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-2, 6-2 while Jankovic rallied for a 6-7 (7-9), 6-1, 6-1 victory over Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.
Klitschko retains titles
Wladimir Klitschko of Ukraine retained his WBA and IBF heavyweight titles by unanimously outpointing Alexander Povetkin in Moscow.
Klitschko knocked down the Russian three times in the seventh round.
All three judges scored it 119-104 for Klitschko (61-3). Povetkin lost for the first time in 27 career fights.
Cotto stops Rodriguez
Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico stopped Delvin Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic 18 seconds into the third round of their junior-middleweight bout in Orlando, Fla.
Cotto (38-4) had lost his previous two bouts. Rodriguez is 28-7-3.
The United States posted a second gold-silver double in as many days at the world championships, with defending champion McKayla Maroney beating all-around champion Simone Biles in the vault in Antwerp, Belgium.
Maroney performed two daring vaults with poise and elegance to edge Biles in the final. Maroney received 15.724 points, with Biles finishing at 15.595. “Team USA is doing great,” Maroney said.
Wise Dan finishes 2nd
Silver Max snapped Wise Dan’s winning streak at nine, taking the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.
Because of heavy rain, the race was moved from the grass course to the synthetic Polytrack, lengthened to 1 1/16 miles and reduced from Grade I to Grade II status.
Wise Dan, the 2012 North American Horse of the Year, settled for second at 1-2 odds. The 6-year-old finished 1¼ lengths behind Silver Max, who led virtually all the way.
Silver Max, trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Robby Albarado, won in 1 minute, 42.06 seconds and paid $17 to win. The 4-year-old colt was the second wagering choice in a field of 10.
In Grade I races for $400,000 purses earlier on the Keeneland card, 4-year-old filly Better Lucky ($11.60 to win) took the First Lady on yielding turf and colt We Miss Artie ($21.80) triumphed in the Breeders’ Futurity for 2-year-olds on Polytrack.
• In Grade I races each worth $500,000 at Belmont Park in Elmont. N.Y., colt Up With the Birds ($10.20) won the Jamaica Handicap on turf for 3-year-olds; Artemis Agrotera ($10.60) captured the Frizette for 2-year-old fillies on dirt and colt Havana ($7.20) took the Champagne for 2-year-olds on dirt.
• Points Offthebench ($11.20) won the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship in Arcadia, Calif., by a half-length over 7-5 favorite Goldencents.
Points Offthebench, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Tim Yakteen and ridden by Mike Smith, ran 6 furlongs in 1:08 in the $250,500 race on the main track.
• The Olympic flame was handed to organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in a ceremony in Athens, Greece. The Games begin Feb. 7.
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