Sport in brief: Nadal powers past Ferrero to extend five-year victory run

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The Independent Online

Tennis: Rafa Nadal beat his compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-4, 6-2 yesterday to put him on course for a possible re-run of last year's final against Novak Djokovic at the Monte-Carlo Masters.

Nadal, who has won the title in Monte Carlo every year since 2005, was pushed hard by Ferrero in the first set. The second seed then powered through the second to register his 30th consecutive win in the tournament. He will next face another Spaniard, David Ferrer, a 7-5, 7-6 winner over Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber in the semi-finals today.

Djokovic eased past David Nalbandian to reach the last four. The Serb took advantage of a raft of Nalbandian errors to win 6-2 6-3, ensuring he would be the only non-Spanish player in the last four.

Andy Murray has not asked for a wild card into next week's tournament in Barcelona. Instead he will spend the week training in readiness for his next appearance at the Rome Masters the week after next.

Ellison puts in scorching lap to leave Hill trailing

Motorcycling: James Ellison outpaced Tommy Hill in free practice ahead of tomorrow's second round of the British Superbike Championship at Thruxton. Riding a Swan Honda, Ellison put in scorching lap to finally head off the challenge of Hill aboard the Worx Crescent Suzuki by just over a quarter of a second. "That is the fastest I have ever been round here, by about a third of a second, and it was equal to the pole time of last year," Ellison said. "I didn't realise the times I was putting in and even with back markers and the crosswinds I felt fairly consistent throughout the sessions." Ellison is keen to maintain his form after winning last time out at Brands Hatch.

Reade fights back over Staff's 'immature' dig

BMX: Shanaze Reade has hit back at criticism she is too immature to win an Olympic gold in London. The 21-year-old, who famously sacrificed a silver medal in a last-ditch attempt to win gold in Beijing, was this week told by former mentor Jamie Staff that "she needs to do a lot of growing up" if she wants to do better at her home Olympics.

Staff, a former BMX world champion who won Olympic gold as a track cyclist before retiring last month, worked with Reade in the build-up to the 2008 Games. Reade says she was disgusted by Staff's comments before dismissing his role in her success. She said: "I wrote him a long email saying: 'It's sad that you've retired, blah-de-blah, but I can't believe what you've written about me. You haven't seen me since Beijing when I was 19 so I don't know how you can call me immature."'