Tennis: Bruguera has the bravura

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The Independent Online
SERGI BRUGUERA, the defending champion, plays Andrei Medvedev over five sets here in the final of the Monte Carlo Open today, hoping for a repetition of their last encounter: the Spaniard won 6-0, 6-4, 6-2 in the semi-finals of the French Open en route to winning the title.

In the semi-finals yesterday, Bruguera required 87 minutes to defeat Stefan Edberg, the No 2 seed, who double- faulted after saving two match- points. The Spaniard's win, 6-2, 7-6, was only his second in eight matches against the Swede.

The opening semi-final between Medvedev and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, two exciting youngsters from the former Soviet Union, failed to live up to expectations. They went at it hammer and sickle until Medvedev won a first set tie-break, after which the Ukrainian cruised into the final 7-6, 6-3.

It will be Medvedev's second final since returning to the tour three weeks ago after recovering from knee surgery in January. Three weeks ago he was beaten in the Estoril Open by Spain's Carlos Costa after leading 6-4, 5-2.

Medvedev had not played Kafelnikov since they were juniors. Although weary from his epic encounter with the American Jim Courier on Friday, he proved too court-wise for his Russian opponent, who seemed to lose heart. 'I only won because Yevgeny choked a little bit in the second set,' Medvedev said. 'He made a lot of mistakes he wouldn't normally do.'

Having practised with Kafelnikov all week, he knew better than to present the number of opportunities offered by Andre Agassi and Michael Stich earlier in the tournament.

At 20, Kafelnikov is the elder by six months and he made a confident start, pounding to a 3-0 lead. Medvedev caught up to 3-3, and served for the set after breaking for 6-5. The Ukrainian then made four consecutive errors and found himself in a tie-break.

The Russian, who led 5-3 in the shoot-out, only to miss with a forehand, continued the spirit of sportsmanship which has been a feature of the tournament by conceding a point to Medvedev at 5-5. The Ukrainian took the tie-break, 8-6, when Kafelnikov netted a backhand on the second set point.