Ferreira under the weather

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PARTS of Britain have been thirsting for the rain which has poured on the desert these past two days, much to the consternation of the organisers of the $1m (pounds 600,000) Dubai Open.

The unlikely conditions came too late to offer respite to Thomas Muster before the Austrian's unsuccessful debut as the world No 1 on Wednesday, following a prolonged Davis Cup tie in South Africa. Indeed, the majority of seeds perished in the sunshine during the first four days, leaving a mixed bunch of survivors to kill time.

When the rain eventually subsided yesterday, Goran Ivanisevic, the No 4 seed, did everybody a favour, with the exception of Wayne Ferreira, by sprinting into the semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-1 win against the defending champion in only 42 minutes.

The tournament was able to make up lost ground. Ivanisevic was quickly followed by Germany's David Prinosil, who continued a week of surprises by defeating the No 2 seed, Thomas Enqvist, 6-2, 6-3, adding to impressive victories against Stefan Edberg, and Andrei Medvedev, the No 7 seed.

Sandon Stolle, who toppled Muster in the first round, narrowly failed to reach the last four, losing to Javier Sanchez, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. This guaranteed a Spanish finalist, Sanchez facing Alberto Costa in the semi-finals.

Ivanisevic has a new coach, Vedran Martic, an unsung Croatian, being the latest to accept the challenge. Ivanisevic practically grew up with 28-year-old Martic at Tennis Club Split, and evidently values his company as much as his coaching ability.

"I don't need a coach to give me so many psychological things before a match and after a match," Ivanisevic said. "I think I have been long enough on the tour to know how to play. I don't want to talk tennis four hours a day. It's better to watch movies than talk tennis all the time.''

None the less, Ivanisevic consulted his former mentor, Bob Brett, the Australian who guided him to two Wimbledon finals in their four and a half years together, before offering Martic a one-year contract.

Two months after parting with Brett last October, Ivanisevic helped himself to $1.625m as the winner of the Compaq Grand Slam Cup, but still felt the need of someone to monitor his game, if not his mind.

"I learned a lot with Bob," Ivanisevic said, "but it is easier for me to speak to someone in Croatian, because I don't know some words when I try to explain in English. To be honest, maybe I don't need a coach. If I'm confident, I don't need anybody. But it's sometimes good, because I don't see what I'm doing wrong, and if I need to do something with my game we can take 50 balls and go on a tennis court.''

Martic, a promising junior, chose to study electronics rather than turn professional and moved to Germany when he was 18. As a coach, he has worked with the Moroccan Younes El Aynaoui, Anke Huber, and Medvedev's sister Natalia.

"Vedran didn't know he was going to be my coach," Ivanisevic said. "I invited him to Australia [in January] to be a friend. Everything went fine in Sydney and I gave Bob a call. He said he thought he was a good guy and it didn't matter that he was so young.

"It's pretty lonely to be on the tour all year, and Vedran knows me like my father, on the court and off the court; when I'm crazy, when I'm not crazy." He would appear to have the credentials.