Rusedski demonstrated his guile as well as serving power yesterday in defeating the home hero, Thomas Muster, 6-4, 6-3. His defeat of the former French Open champion and former world No 1 was a convincing one. The Austrian suffered a minor leg injury and needed treatment in the first set and was never able to threaten Rusedski after that.
Henman recovered from a difficult opening set against Thomas Enqvist, losing the tie-break 7- 2, to win, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3. "It goes to show what confidence is about," said Henman, who has just won back-to-back titles. "I've got to take advantage of the way I'm playing at the moment."
Henman said that he had felt tired during the match, having played a lot of tennis in recent weeks, but dug deep to break the Swede twice in the final set and force the victory. Particularly gratifying for him was the number of baseline rallies that he won against a player who excels in that area.
The British players, who have shown outstanding form this week, cannot meet before Sunday's final.
Henman, the British No 1, has lost his three previous meetings with Sampras. Indeed, the American world No 1 has won 12 successive times against British players. The only match he has lost against a Briton was the first he played - against Jeremy Bates in 1988, when he had just celebrated his 17th birthday.
But Henman said that he was looking forward to the Sampras match. "If there's ever going to be a time I have a chance of beating him, it's now," he said.
Rusedski's only win in six meetings with Rafter was in the Stella Artois Championships at London's Queen's Club last year. Rafter's victories over Rusedski include the 1997 US Open final.