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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Guru Careers: Product Training Specialist / Software Trainer

£25 - 32,500K (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Produ...

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions