Nadal beats Soderling; Federer finishes third
Rafael Nadal ended a two-match losing streak to Robin Soderling on Saturday, beating the Swede 7-6 (3), 7-5 in the final of the season-opening Capitala exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Both players held serve throughout the first set before the second-ranked Spaniard won the tiebreaker. Nadal then broke decisively in the sixth game of the second set at Zayed Sports City.
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Soderling ended Nadal's 31-game unbeaten run on clay at the French Open last year and beat him again at the season-sending ATP Tour World Finals in London.
Roger Federer defeated David Ferrer 6-1, 7-5 for third place.
Nadal said overtaking Federer was not his main focus for 2010.
"Everybody wants the No. 1 ranking, but, believe me, for me it is not my goal for this year," Nadal said. "To play competitively throughout and win as many tournaments as I can, that is my goal. To be happy playing, to be healthy and to play like I have played over the last two days."
Nadal will play in next week's Qatar Open, the Australian Open beginning Jan. 18 and the ABN AMRO starting Feb. 8 in the Netherlands before taking a break. He injured both knees and his abdomen last season, missing Wimbledon among other tournaments.
High school football
White scores twice, commits to Texas
Darius White scored two touchdowns and Team Nitro defeated Team Blur 32-7 in the Under Armour All-America game Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla. White scored on a 35-yard punt return early in the third quarter to give Nitro a 19-7 lead and added an 11-yard reception from Devin Gardner early in the fourth quarter
Minutes later White, who is from Fort Worth, put on a Texas hat and gave his nonbinding oral commitment to Texas.
It was also a banner day for Florida with wide receiver Chris Dunkley and defensive end Dominique Easley committing to the Gators during the nationally televised game.
Easley and Michael Taylor were named the game's co-MVPs.
Defensive backs committed to Florida also accounted for four interceptions. Jonathan Dowling had two picks, the first he returned 56 yards for a TD to give Nitro a 6-0 lead. Joshua Shaw and Demar Dorsey each added interceptions for their respective teams.
Nick Montana, son of NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana, started at quarterback for Team Nitro. He finished 4-for-12 for 38 yards with a TD pass to Solomon Patton and an interception. He had already committed to Washington.
Quality Road favored in 4-year-old debut
Quality Road, the hard-luck colt who was once considered the Kentucky Derby favorite and then missed the Breeders' Cup Classic after a mishap at the starting gate, will make his 4-year-old debut at Gulfstream Park on Sunday. His start in the $100,000, Grade III Hal's Hope Handicap will be his first since being scratched from the Breeders' Cup Classic, where he refused to enter the starting gate and suffered lacerations after he was loaded while blindfolded. Quality Road will be the favorite in Sunday's race at morning-line odds of 6-5. It will be his first race at Gulfstream since winning the Grade I Florida Derby on March 28 in track-record time. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt's main competition in the nine-horse field could come from stablemate Harlem Rocker, a 5-year-old graded-stakes winner. The race is scheduled for 4:43 p.m.
Laus Deo led all the way, beating Worth a Buck by three-quarters of a length Saturday in the $65,000 Count Fleet, the first 3-year-old stakes of the season at Aqueduct. David Cohen guided the colt trained by Tony Dutrow to his second win in four starts. The time was 1:44.91 for the 1 mile, 70 yards on the fast track. Laus Deo paid $22.80, $10 and $7.40. Ibboyee, the 2-5 favorite who had won four of his previous five races, finished fourth.
George Santangelo's homebred Hudson Heights rallied late up the outside to win by a head as a 110.50-1 shot in Race 6 at Aqueduct. Hudson Heights returned $223 for a $2 win bet, the highest win payout at an NYRA track in more than a decade. Trained by Colum O'Brien, the 4-year-old New York-bred broke his maiden six weeks ago at Finger Lakes and carried a 1-1-2 record from 14 starts into Saturday's $17,000, 6-furlong claiming race.
Z. I. Zipp lived up to his name in the $50,000 Turfway Prevue Stakes on Saturday at Turfway Park, jumping to the lead and drawing off to win by 41/4 lengths under a hand ride by Tom Pompell. By City Zip out of Mayan, Z. I. Zipp was bred and owned by Patricia and Michael Freeny, who retired and moved to Kentucky to raise horses. The Turfway Prevue is their first stakes win. Z. I. Zipp finished the 61/2 furlongs in 1:19.66 and paid $36.80.
Encarnacion treated after firework mishap
Toronto Blue Jays infielder Edwin Encarnacion is recuperating after he was burned in the face by fireworks while celebrating the new year in his native Dominican Republic.
Fiancee Jennifer Pena told The Associated Press that Encarnacion was released from the hospital Saturday and is resting at home. She said he received first- and second-degree burns when his brother released a firework that hit him in the right side of the face and exploded near his body. His injuries do not require surgery.
"The doctors say that I'll have to spend one week out of the sun, but that I'll be able to work out without any problems in two weeks," Encarnacion told ESPNdeportes.com.
Encarnacion was celebrating with his family in the southeastern coastal city of La Romana.
The last word
Josh Selby, a highly touted guard prospect guard prospect from Baltimore, was scheduled to make his official visit to the University of Kentucky for Saturday's game against Louisville. But Selby had to reschedule his visit to the disappointment of his mother, Maeshon Witherspoon. She said the UK staff initially invited Selby to watch a game against "some no-name school," but she held out for a higher caliber opponent.
"I told them I want Louisville. I don't want to go see no game where you're going to blow them out by 50. We wanted to see that atmosphere."