Nadal, Puerta to jump to career-bests in rankings

Updated: June 5, 2005, 5:14 PM ET
Associated Press

PARIS -- Top-seeded Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain and Paola Suarez of Argentina won their fourth French Open women's doubles title Sunday by beating Cara Black of Zimbabwe and Liezel Huber of South Africa 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

The win marked the eighth Grand Slam doubles title for Ruano Pascual and Suarez. They said friendship is the key to their success.

"We know each other very well," Ruano Pascual said. "We know exactly what the other one is going to do at each moment."

It's "as if we were one person, on the court and off the court," Suarez said.

On the court, the duo has reached 13 Grand Slam finals together. They won the trophy at the last three U.S. Opens, the 2004 Australian Open and at Roland Garros in 2001, '02 and '04.

Sunday's match marked their sixth straight final at Roland Garros.

The pair holds the second-longest streak of consecutive major doubles finals (nine stretching from the 2003 to 2005 French Opens) and are fast approaching the record of 11, held by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver.

NEW RANKINGS

With his French Open victory, Rafael Nadal will move to a career-best No. 3 in the new rankings. The 19-year-old Spaniard was ranked fifth coming into the French Open.

When the ATP rankings come out Monday, runner-up Mariano Puerta will jump from 21st in the rankings to about 12th, also a career best.

Puerta slipped to No. 440 last August following a nine-month drug suspension.

SOCCER STAR

Not only did Rafael Nadal win the French Open trophy, but it was handed to him by one of his idols -- Real Madrid star Zinedine Zidane.

"He's one of the best athletes," Nadal said of Zidane.

Nadal is "a mad fan of Real Madrid," according to his uncle and coach, Toni Nadal, who said the 19-year-old regards Zidane as an athlete who is "as high as any man can get."

Soccer also runs in the family. Another of Nadal's uncles is former Spanish player Miguel Angel Nadal -- who played for Real Madrid's rival where he was known as the "Beast of Barcelona." He was cheering for his nephew from the VIP seats Sunday.

Zidane had a few memorable words for Nadal.

"He wished me good luck," Nadal said. "He congratulated me. He said I was a phenomenon."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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