Forget digs into his memory to oust Ivanisevic

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reports from Queen's Club

The sun came out at Queen's Club yesterday and so did the heavy artillery. Pete Sampras and Boris Becker both swung their service arms to good effect, as did Goran Ivanisevic, who at one stage threw down six aces in succession, leaving his opponent, Guy Forget, to guess where the next one was coming from. In the event the Frenchman guessed right and so out went the No 3 seed.

Forget's victory by 6-3, 7-6 gives him a place in the semi- finals of the Stella Artois tournament and today he challenges Boris Becker, his doubles partner this week, for the right to contest tomorrow's pounds 45,806 first prize.

Becker enjoyed, with Sampras, the easiest of yesterday's quarter-finals which were all completed in two sets.

This time a year ago Forget was way down the computer rankings - "think of the last number and that was me" he smiled.

Surgery on his right knee provided him with an extended sojourn away from the circuit and ensured a long haul back for the left-hander who was once elevated to the heights of the world's No 4.

He says what is happening to him now is like beginning all over again. "On grass my game comes back so quickly.

"In fact," he added, "I wish I had been born in England, this is my surface. It's not important to me whether I get back to fourth in the world. I just try to play well today and to play better tomorrow and to get to the semi-finals at Queen's is a great achievement."

In total, Ivanisevic produced 16 aces and at times Forget was hanging on, patiently waiting for his chance to pounce. There was nothing scientific about his defence, and he had to admit that at times it came down to nothing more than good fortune.

"When I played Goran at Wimbledon last year I attempted to stand in the middle and stretch either side for the returns. This time I decided to just go for it, one way or the other.

"Sometimes it worked but otherwise you just have to be patient and not lose heart. You can win matches on grass by not returning for half-an-hour, then in the tie-break you may be able to produce two returns and you've won the set."

Forget found considerable assistance in the tie-break from Ivanisevic's failure to make more than one first-serve count. "I struggled for my rhythm early on but in the end it started to go well" said the Croatian. "Then when I needed it most [in the tie-break] it was not there."

Ivanisevic earned a code violation for an audible obscenity in the second set when querying a line call that put him break-point down in the fifth game.

He was not impressed by the reaction of the umpire, Kim Craven. "I thought the serve was good so I had a little talk with the umpire and got my warning," he said matter-of-factly. "He was having a good time up there in his chair, wearing his sun-glasses and enjoying the sun after four miserable days here."

The favourites to contest tomorrow's final, Sampras and Becker, both made easy progress and were scarcely troubled on their way to the last four.

The Wimbledon champion is feeling much better with life after a disappointing campaign on clay and was detained only 54 minutes on the way to a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Sandon Stolle.

Becker, likewise, encountered few problems in dismissing the claims of Jason Stoltenberg, who the previous day had defeated the former title holder, Stefan Edberg, 6-4, 6-1. The final quartet is made up by Marc Goellner, who put out Derrick Rostagno.

Mary Pierce, the world No 3, ended doubts yesterday that she would again by-pass the All-England Championships by committing herself to a Wimbledon debut after receiving a clean bill of health.

A heavy cold as well as groin and wrist injuries contributed to her defeat in the quarter-finals of the French Open recently and gave rise to conjecture that she would give Wimbledon a miss.

However her coach, Nick Bolletieri, said yesterday: "She will arrive in London on Sunday to begin practice for Wimbledon. I've worked with her all week and she's in good shape. She has had a lot of tests and they have all been clear."