Ivanisevic blasts back

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The Independent Online

Goran Ivanisevic blasted through Todd Martin yesterday to win the Grand Slam Cup and the richest prize in tennis - $1.625m (pounds 1.05m). Ivanisevic sent down 28 aces - 15 more than Martin - in a match that lasted an hour and 43 minutes to win 7-6 6-3 6-4.

"I played without pressure this week and I played very good tennis," Ivanisevic said. "I was finally able to play my best tennis in a big final." His victory made up for a frustrating year without a title on the ATP tour. He missed several weeks after undergoing knee surgery in February. Even without a title, Ivanisevic made more than $2m and his victory on Sunday raised his 1995 earnings to $3.7m (pounds 2.4m).

"I can hardly believe it. After a not so good year I managed to get my first title of the year here. No one counted on me here and that makes me even happier," he said. Ivanisevic, who has slipped from five to 10 in the world rankings, never lost his serve during the match. In the first- set tiebreak he hit a tremendous return and then pounded out two straight aces to win the set.

The second set went with serve until the eighth game, when a backhand error by Martin allowed Ivanisevic to break for 5-3 and clinch the second set in the next game. By then, only just over 65 minutes had elapsed.

Martin, who is ranked 18 after climbing to five in mid-1994, also has a good serve and there were few rallies on the fast carpet surface of Munich's Olympic Hall.

The 25-year-old American beat Boris Becker in Saturday's semi-finals but he looked lacklustre yesterday. He had been receiving treatment the whole week for stomach muscle problems and needed treatment for hand blisters early in the third set. "I don't blame these problems. Goran simply played better today," Martin, whose consolation prize was $812,500 (pounds 527,000), said.

He saved a break point in the third game, but was broken in the seventh as Ivanisevic took a decisive 4-3 lead. Martin, who was also a semi-finalist here last year, saved two match points in the next game to stay in the match. But Ivanisevic fired four aces in a row to finish the match with a love game.