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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

AER Teachers: Early Years Teaching Assistant Newham

Negotiable: AER Teachers: Outstanding East London primary school seeking an Ea...

AER Teachers: Southwark primary School looking for teaching assistants

Negotiable: AER Teachers: Southwark primary School looking for teaching assist...

Royal College of Music: Assistant to the Deputy Director & the Director of Research

£24,451 - £27,061 per annum: Royal College of Music: The Royal College of Musi...

Guru Careers: Marketing Analyst / Optimisation Analyst

£35 - £45k DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Optimisation Analyst is...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future