Tennis: Grand Slam Cup - Rusedski unleashes biggest serve to quell Kafelnikov

Britain's Greg Rusedski equalled his world record serve of 143 mph last night in defeating Yevgeny Kafelnikov to reach the semi-finals of the Compaq Grand Slam Cup. The victory means he has earned $425,000 this week in Munich, but, as John Roberts explains, Rusedski will have to beat Pete Sampras to add to his haul.

Greg Rusedski has waited for this day since a wrist injury caused him to retire after winning the opening set against Pete Sampras in the final of a tournament in San Jose in February.

The Briton had hoped to complete the most encouraging week of his career, having just defeated Michael Chang and Andre Agassi back-to-back. Instead, he had to bide his time until the wrist healed and he was able to confirm the improvement in his game by reaching the Wimbledon quarter-finals and the final of the US Open.

Those results brought him here to the Compaq Grand Slam Cup, where he has emulated Tim Henman, his Davis Cup team-mate, who advanced to the last four at Munich's Olympic Hall last year.

Whatever happens when he faces Sampras over the best of five sets today - the American has won their four previous matches - Rusedski can take pride in his performance yesterday in defeating Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the world No 4 from Russia, 6-7, 6-3, 6-1.

Failing to secure the opening set might have proved a psychological blow for Rusedski had he allowed himself to dwell on the fact that it was the first tie-break he had lost in the last eight he has played.

Having already saved two set points at 4-5 in the set, he must have fancied his chances until double-faulting to trail 2-4 in the shoot-out. Kafelnikov went on to clinch the lead, 7-5, finshing with an ace.

Rusedski had the fortitude to save two break points in the opening game of the second set - the second of them when the umpire overruled an ace which had been called out - and immediately broke Kafelnikov for 2-0. It was then that the Canadian-born Brit underlined the power of his serve by delivering the 143 mph serve on game point to hold for 3-0. The crowd, who had oohed and aahed at his previous big hits, gave out a roar of approval when the speed flashed up at the side of the court.

Having levelled the match after 70 minutes, Rusedski began to make even better use of his return of serve and groundstrokes, provoking errors from Kafelnikov. The Russian double-faulted on game point at 1-1 and then missed a backhand volley to give his opponeent the intiative. Rusedski held for 3-1, and then broke again, crucially, aided by a net cord, the ball trickling over in his favour for deuce. There was no luck about the backhand drive and forehand volley that sealed the game. Kafelnikov, to cap a frustrating night, double-faulted on the second match point.

"I'm very much looking forward to playing Pete, and I'm sure Pete's looking forward to the match as well," Rusedski said. "He likes to give me a little bit of stick now and then. I'm going to have a good match out there. It's going to be really interesting. I have nothing to lose."

Nobody does, really.

Apologies for constantly pushing figures at you like a demented accountant, but they do make interesting reading. Sampras, for example, has made $6.318m (pounds 4.2m) from his six appearances in this event - which is approaching a quarter of his total career prize-money.

By advancing to today's semi-finals with a victory against Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman, 7-6, 6-4, he took his income for the week to $925,000 (including a $500,000 bonus for winning two grand slams, Wimbledon and the Australian Open).

For all the wealth on offer here, Sampras and Bjorkman (pounds 250,000 as a quarter-finalist) will be keener to do well for their nations when Sweden and the United States meet in the Davis Cup final in December.

The most significant part of yesterday's proceedings for Sampras came after the match, when he received the Fred Perry Award as the top performer in the Grand Slam men's singles championships this year.

Sampras was just too good for Bjorkman, his victory atoning for the one defeat on his record in six meetings with the Swede. That was in three sets in the pre-Wimbledon Stella Artois Championships at London's Queen's Club in June.

The Swede, having double-faulted to present Sampras with the first set point, at 5-6 in the tie-break, double-faulted on the second set point, at 6-7.

Sampras broke Bjorkman in the third game of the second set, once again courtesy of a double-fault from the Swede on game point. There appeared little prospect of Sampras being caught from that point.

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

EYFS Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education require an ex...

Year 3 Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 primary supply teacher ne...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply special educational ne...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape