Federer sees off Safin yet again

 

DIGEST: TENNIS: Roger Federer continued his mastery over Marat Safin on clay by beating the Russian in the final of the Masters Series event in Hamburg yesterday.

Safin, who now heads the Champions Race standings after beating Tommy Robredo in his semi-final, was no match for the Swiss star who won 6-1 6-3 6-4.

The 21-year-old Federer had won his previous two meetings against Safin on clay and before recent setbacks in Monte Carlo and Rome Federer had been one of the season's top players.

The victory also lifts Federer into second place in the Champions Race.

TENNIS: Serena Williams won the first clay court title of her career yesterday when she took revenge on Justine Henin with a hard-fought 7-6 6-4 victory in the Italian Open final in Rome.

Williams, who lost to Henin a week ago at the German Open in Berlin, had to work hard for her win, needing six set points to put Henin away in the first set, which took an hour and nine minutes.

Henin saved three set points at 4-5 down and two more in the tie-breaker before a netted backhand from the Belgian finally gave Williams the advantage.

The second set was just as close, with Williams breaking for a 4-3 lead before being pegged back. The third break of serve in a row decided matters, however, giving Williams the chance to serve for the title.

MOTOR SPORT: Richard Burns was last night handed victory in the Rally of Argentina yesterday after Marcus Gronholm was disqualified.

Gronholm won the rally earlier in the day but at a meeting of FIA stewards was stripped of the title and the points as punishment for an infringement of servicing rules. Stewards ruled that Peugeot broke servicing rules by offering illegal assistance on the road section after mechanics pushed Gronholm's 206 out of the overnight parc ferme when it refused to start this morning.

Peugeot said they would not appeal against the ruling. Burns was therefore handed the win, with Ford's Carlos Sainz of Spain taking second and Subaru's Petter Solberg third.

GOLF: South African Charl Schwartzel became the fourth overseas player to win the Brabazon Trophy in Deal when he took the title with a closing round of 70 at Deal.

The 17-year-old from near Johannesburg hit a six-under-par 282 to claim a two-shot winning margin from Ireland's Colm Moriarty, who shot a closing 68.

Justin Keogh from Birr finished on 290, while Scrabo's Andrew McCormick ended on 295.

At one stage Schwartzel, Moriarty and Walker Cup Welshman Nigel Edwards, who finished third, were tied on four under. But the young Springbok reeled off three birdies in four holes from the 10th to open a lead that was never really threatened.

"When we arrived here I felt if I could get a couple of top 10 finishes it would be good," Schwartzel said. "To win is a bonus but I felt if I could shoot two rounds of 70 today I might win and I did.

"My driving and putting were the keys while that run of birdies were what swung it for me."