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Tennis: Nadal Continues Clay Court Winning Streak


World No. 2 men's tennis player Rafael Nadal of Spain has continued his record winning streak on clay courts by reaching the semifinals of the Rome Masters tennis tournament.

Nadal, 20, captured his 75th straight win on clay with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Novak Djokovic of Serbia. The milestone ties John McEnroe's record of 75 match wins indoors on carpet between 1983 and 1985.

Nadal next plays fourth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, who rallied to beat Spain's Tommy Robredo, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Meanwhile, Italian Filippo Volandri of Italy scored a 6-2, 6-3 victory over 12th-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. Volandri is the first Italian player to reach the semifinals since Adriano Pannatta in 1978. He next faces sixth-seeded Fernando Gonzalez of Chile, a straight-sets winner over Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina (6-3, 6-4).

The clay-court tournament is one of several events players are using to prepare for the second major tournament of the year, the French Open, which starts May 27 in Paris.

In other tennis news, World No. 1 women's player Justine Henin of Belgium has reached the quarterfinals of the German Open tournament, but third-ranked Amelie Mauresmo of France is out of the event.

Henin scored a 6-1, 6-3 win over Italian Maria Elena Camerin in a third round match Friday. The Belgian was losing her second match of the day to Jelena Jankovic of Serbia when their quarterfinal was suspended due to darkness (3-6, 4-4).

Mauresmo lost her third round match to unseeded Julia Vakulenko of Ukraine in three sets (2-6, 6-1, 6-2). The Ukrainian seemed to benefit from a night's rest when play stopped because of rain delays and darkness Thursday. Mauresmo was leading, 6-2, 1-1, but Vakulenko stormed back, winning five straight games Friday morning.

The Ukrainian was not finished. She went on to beat eighth seeded Dinara Safina of Russia in three sets in the quarterfinals (6-3, 5-7, 6-3). Vakulenko faces Serbian Ana Ivanovic, who reached the semifinals with a three-sets win over Patty Schnyder of Switzerland (7-5, 3-6, 6-4).

Former U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia knocked defending champion Nadia Petrova out of the quarterfinals in straight sets (7-5, 6-4). Kuznetsova will play either Henin or Jankovic.

The clay-court event is one of several tournaments players are using to prepare for the French Open, which starts May 27 in Paris.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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