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Nadal back to fourth in tennis rankings
06:14 AEST Tue May 21 2013

FP - Former No.1 Rafael Nadal on Monday moved back to fourth in the world tennis rankings after his victory at the Italian Open in Rome.

Nadal, who slipped in the rankings after missing seven months through injury, continued his impressive comeback form with a comprehensive 6-1 6-3 defeat of Roger Federer to claim his seventh Rome title.

Less than a week out from the French Open, the Spaniard trades places with countryman David Ferrer who drops to fifth.

The only newcomer in the top 10 is Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, who moves up one spot from No.11 in place of Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka.

Fellow Serb Novak Djokovic remains the clear-cut world No.1 ahead of Britain's Andy Murray and Federer. Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic stays at No.6 ahead of Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro and Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet.

Nadal fired a warning shot to his French Open rivals with his demolition of Federer, his Swiss rival in no doubt as to the Spaniard's prospects of lifting an eighth Roland Garros crown.

"He is not going to come back 20 per cent fit. He was only going to come back when he was 100 per cent healthy ... and now he is the favourite for the French Open," said Federer.

But Nadal warned form is no guarantee against an early upset.

"Maybe it is enough, but what can I tell you? If I play like this and I arrive at Roland Garros and somebody beats me, I will shake his hand," said Nadal, who has won six titles in eight tournaments since his return to the tour in February.

"When you play and win many titles in a row like I am doing, then you are doing things well. I could reach Roland Garros and lose in the first round - this is the sport and this is tennis."

In the new women's world rankings, Serena Williams extended her lead at the top after beating No.3 Victoria Azarenka in the Rome final.

Russian Maria Sharapova remains at No.2, ahead of Azarenka of Belarus and Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska.

Italian Sara Errani moves to No.5, swapping positions with Li Na of China, Czech Petra Kvitova improves to seventh at the expense of German Angelique Kerber and Australian Samantha Stosur is up to ninth, trading places with former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.