Tennis: Goellner basks in career resurgence

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The organisers of the Bournemouth International Open would no doubt have preferred a British participant among the weekend's four semi- finalists, but they will have to make do in today's final with probably the only German taking an interest in the climax to cricket's County Championship.

Marc-Kevin Goellner, who turns 26 next week, spent five years of a roving childhood in Sydney (as the son of a diplomat he was born in Brazil and also lived in Israel), where he played cricket at school.

Although his brother is these days the only person who can give him a regular bowl or bat, he has been enjoying watching a bit of the sport he loved as a child throughout the week.

Some of the gutsiness of Australian cricket has clearly rubbed off on the 6ft 5in German, who came back from 6-2 and 4-1 down to beat another man who played cricket at school in Sydney, the number three seed Jason Stoltenberg 2-6 7-5 6-4. "I told myself to shut up and concentrate and make Jason work for his money," Goellner said of the turnaround in his fortunes.

In particular, Goellner thought his way out of an apparently hopeless position, choosing to abandon his solely power-based strategy, in favour of a varied game allied to intelligent tactics. He broke Stoltenberg for 3-4 and after breaking again to lead 6-5 survived a double fault on set point before levelling the match.

In the decider, Stoltenberg began to look tired and dispirited, and Goellner took the decisive break for 3-2 lead. He finished an entertaining encounter with his 10th ace.

In today's final, only the second of the German's career, Goellner faces Alberto Costa, a 4-6 6-2 6-3 winner over Magnus Norman. The Spanish top seed played a weary semi-final and at times looked a pale shadow of the man who was the find of this spring's European clay court season, but in the end the world No 15 had just too much pedigree for the spirited Swede.

Apart from winning four matches here, Costa appears to be winning his battle to be known as Albert. Born in the final month of the Franco regime, he was named with the then politically correct Castilian Alberto, but from next week the ATP Tour will list him in his preferred Catalan form, Albert.

Despite the absence of British singles semi-finalists, the Lawn Tennis Association expressed satisfaction with the reincarnation of the Bournemouth event after 13 years. The weather has been delightful, the crowds have been acceptable, and the players feel well catered for - the complete antidote to the circus of the US Open a week earlier.