Rafael Nadal

became the first player to win the Rome Masters three consecutive times by beating

Fernando Gonzalez

, of Chile, 6-2, 6-2, yesterday.

The victory extended his winning streak on clay to 77 matches. By reaching the final, the Spaniard already had broken John McEnroe's record for most victories on one surface.

"I'm very happy with my game," Nadal said. "I'm in the best moment of my career."

The second-ranked Nadal needed only 1 hour, 24 minutes to overcome his opponent, who was never in contention against the two-time defending French Open champion.

"I've had the good fortune of coming here for 3 years and winning for 3 years," Nadal said. "It's an incredible sensation."

It was Nadal's fourth ATP title of the year. He also won in Indian Wells, Calif., Monte Carlo and Barcelona, and has 21-3 career record in finals.

"Fernando made way more errors than usual and I took advantage of it," said Nadal, who has not lost on clay since Igor Andreev beat him in the quarterfinals in Spain in April 2005.

Going into the final, Gonzalez held a 3-1 edge in career meetings with Nadal, including a win in the Australian Open quarterfinals in January.

Rome is a key clay-court warmup for the French Open, which begins May 27.

In another tournament:

* Serbian teenager Ana Ivanovic, hobbling on a taped right foot, won the German Open in Berlin by beating third-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (4). The 19-year-old Ivanovic won her third career title, defeating a top-10 player for the eighth time.

Sport Stops

* Jerry Kellar, who covered Penn State football for 20 years at the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, died early Saturday morning in his sleep. He was 46.

* John Grant had three goals and five assists to help Rochester win the National Lacrosse League title over host Arizona, 13-11.

* Felipe Massa won his second straight Formula One race for Ferrari, holding off McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona by 6.790 seconds.

* Robbie McEwen won the second stage of the Giro d'Italia cycling race in a sprint finish, and Danilo Di Luca took the overall lead from teammate Enrico Gasparotto.

Philly File

* Steve Bauman, a former Penn soccer player and coach, was named president and chief operating officer of the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y.

* Junior forward Brandon Penn, one of the Public League's top 10 basketball underclassmen, has transferred from Ben Franklin to Paul Robeson. *