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Rafael Nadal on Sunday became the youngest man to win a grand-slam tournament in 16 years when he defeated Mariano Puerta 6-7 6-3 6-1 7-5 in a thrilling French Open final, writes Simon Kuper in Paris. The 19-year-old Spaniard, making his debut in this tournament, was unstoppable all fortnight.
The unseeded Argentine Puerta, who lasted four sets, gave Nadal a better game than anyone else had. "I didn't win the match, but I won a very difficult battle against myself," said Puerta, 26. Last year, following a previous drugs ban and an escape from a lift just before it plunged 18 floors to destruction, Puerta was ranked 440th in the world. He slogged through minor tournaments in places such as Teheran. Entering yesterday's final ranked 37th, he overcame his fellow left-hander 7-6 in the first set, mixing blazing forehands with well-timed drop-shots.
But Nadal was not fazed, and walked the next two sets. He is a heartbreaking opponent, galloping around returning shots that would be winners against anyone else until the other man's spirit breaks. The stocky Puerta, not so quick himself, at this stage looked tired. He admitted that his previous matches, particularly Friday's five-set semi-final, had affected him. But he added: "The way I played today, against another player I could have won."
Puerta fought back in the fourth set, and at 5-4 up had three set points. Nadal saved them all, two after marvellous reflex exchanges at the net, before winning 7-5. After Saturday's awful women's final, in which Mary Pierce lost her nerve and lasted only an hour against Justine Henin-Hardenne, this was a classic.
Michael Chang, who won the French Open in 1989 aged 17, never won another major tournament. It is almost impossible to imagine a similar fate for Nadal. "He'll become a legend of tennis," predicted Puerta. "He has the mental strength to break records."
The Mallorcan has now won 24 straight matches on clay, and his eternal top-spun forehand looks set to reign on this surface for years. The question is whether he can impose on faster surfaces, starting at Wimbledon in two weeks.
*Sir Clive Woodward would not have wanted it proved this way, but the Lions coach can feel that one of the most criticised elements of his tour planning - taking 45 players to New Zealand - has been fully vindicated by Saturday's injury to Lawrence Dallaglio, writes Huw Richards in Auckland. Only one of 11 matches has been played, and already the Lions have had to send for three replacements.
While Woodward was characteristically looking forward and not stopping to mourn Dallaglio - who was operated on on Sunday and faces a recovery of four to six months from his broken and dislocated ankle - there is no doubt that losing the former England captain is a blow to his strategy. Dallaglio was his designated forward leader, a necessary complement to the captaincy of centre Brian O'Driscoll. That role now devolves to Paul O'Connell while another Irishman, Simon Easterby, takes Dallaglio's place in the squad. It is not a straight swap, but the Lions still have three high-class number eights, including Martin Corry who will lead a heavily Anglo-Irish team against Taranaki on Wednesday. Easterby will compete with Richard Hill, one of the successes of the 34-20 victory over Bay of Plenty in Rotorua, for the number six shirt.
Others who advanced their cause included Josh Lewsey, with two tries in the first 10 minutes from full-back, wing Tom Shanklin, flanker Martin Williams and replacement prop Andrew Sheridan. First-half defensive lapses, as Bay of Plenty made up an early 17-point deficit before the break, were a reminder that any New Zealand team is lethal with the ball in hand, but the Lions' second-half display showed an ability to close a game down and grind out victory.
*It took England just 17 minutes and 26 balls on Sunday to finish off the innings victory that had looked likely from the moment Bangladesh were bowled out for 104 on Friday afternoon, writes Jonathan Wilson at Chester-le-Street.
If there was frustration that they could not win within two days as captain Michael Vaughan had wished, there could at least be satisfaction at five series victories in a row for the first time since 1971.
Just as the Australian team, who arrived early yesterday, would not have been unduly impressed by the news that England had outclassed Bangladesh, so the hosts will not be especially encouraged by their difficulties in dislodging them on Saturday.
There were fewer problems on Sunday morning, though, even if Aftab Ahmed did continue his merry way to 82 not out, the highest score by a Bangladeshi against England. Tapash Baishya went to the second ball he faced, caught behind off Matthew Hoggard, who then completed his fifth five-wicket haul in Test cricket by having Mashrafe Bin Mortaza caught at first slip in his next over.
*Frankie Dettori made up for his Derby disappointment on Dubawi by winning Sunday's French equivalent at Chantilly. His mount Shamardal held the late thrust of Hurricane Run to win the Prix du Jockey Club.
Meanwhile Michael Bell, trainer of English Derby winner Motivator, is considering both the Coral-Eclipse and the Irish Derby for the horse's next race, with his campaign ultimately geared towards a challenge for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in the autumn.
*Mark Lewis-Francis edged out Maurice Greene in 10.43 seconds to win the 100m at the Norwich Union International in Glasgow before also anchoring the relay squad to victory. Russia, however, prevailed in the three-way match against Great Britain and the USA.
The 100m win was a return to form for the British sprinter against the 2000 Olympic champion. Lewis-Francis's season has been disrupted by a positive test for cannabis which saw him given a public warning and stripped of the silver medal he won at the European Indoor Championships in March.
Double Olympic champion Kelly Holmes won the 1500m.
*Manchester United moved to solve their goalkeeping crisis by agreeing to sign Fulham's Edwin Van der Saar, 34, for an undisclosed fee.
*Ricky Hatton has the prospect of a series of lucrative fights in the US after becoming the undisputed light-welterweight champion of the world. Hatton overwhelmed the great Kostya Tszyu to seize the IBF title in Manchester early on Sunday. Hatton, 26, forced Tszyu to quit at the end of the 11th round.
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