|HOME | SPORTS | REUTERS | NEWS|
|November 1, 2001||
Kafelnikov grabs penultimate Masters Cup spot
Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov seized the seventh and penultimate spot for next month's Masters Cup in Sydney when he beat Australian Mark Philippoussis in the second round of the Paris Masters Series on Wednesday.
The former French and Australian Open champion, seeded fourth, won 7-6, 6-4 and is now certain to make it to the season-ending showdown in Melbourne starting on November 12.
Briton Tim Henman and Swiss Roger Federer, finalists last week in Basle, suffered by contrast a severe reversal of fortune when they were both ousted in their first match at Bercy.
Eighth seed Henman, who won in Switzerland on Sunday and looked well placed to make it to Sydney, bowed 6-4 6-3 to French underdog Julien Boutter while Federer was shocked 6-4, 6-7, 7-6 by Czech Jiri Novak.
That shattered their hopes of reaching the Masters Cup, while the very last spot will be contested between Frenchman Sebastien Grosjean, German Tommy Haas and Russian Marat Safin, the title holder.
Safin, winner in St Petersburg on Sunday, beat Slovak Karol Kucera 7-6, 5-7, 6-4.
Grosjean and Haas both posted easy straight sets wins on Wednesday, beating Slovak Domink Hrbaty and Croatian Ivan Ljubicic respectively to keep their hopes alive.
Boutter, who beat world number one Gustavo Kuerten last week in Basle, was again impressive in a one-sided contest in which Henman quickly seemed to tire.
The Briton made a convincing start, leading Boutter 4-1 in the early stages, but quickly fell apart, losing six games in succession.
Henman broke back for 1-1 at the beginning of the second set, but it was only a brief reprieve as Boutter again took his serve in the seventh game to lead 4-3.
Two successive double faults gave the Frenchman a first match point which he did not miss, finishing Henman off with a punishing backhand on the line.
"Well obviously I haven't qualified (for the Masters)," Henman said afterwards. "That's the scenario. It's a disappointing one because I got myself into a good position.
"I've played some very good tennis. I didn't play well today. That's the end of the story.
"I found it very difficult to have an influence on the game. He's so aggressive... so powerful in his shots. He was too good for me."
Federer's end-of-season plans were also cut shot after he lost a tight second-round encounter with Czech Jiri Novak.
The 10th-seeded Swiss, a losing finalist in Basle, said he was still in shock after his loss to Henman in front of his home crowd on Sunday.
"The Masters Cup was not a real objective for me but after being in the top 10 players in the world for most of the season, it is a disappointment," he said.
The 20-year-old Swiss held a match point at 5-4 and 40-30 in the third set against Novak but was passed going for a volley.
"I'm still devastated by my loss in Basle," he claimed at the end of the tie, which lasted just under two hours.
Haas, who scored back-to-back victories in Vienna and Stuttgart in recent weeks, was impressive in his 6-3, 6-4 thrashing of Ljubicic, the recent winner of the Lyon tournament.
Grosjean dismissed Hrbaty 6-1, 6-4.
Mail Sports Editor
ASTROLOGY | CONTESTS | E-CARDS | NEWSLINKS | ROMANCE | WOMEN
SHOPPING | BOOKS | MUSIC | HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL| MESSENGER | FEEDBACK