Tennis: Rafter sees off tricky customer

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The Independent Online
PAT RAFTER began his grass-court preparations for Wimbledon with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over his fellow Australian, Andrew Ilie, at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, yesterday.

Rafter, the top seed, was back on grass after falling in the third round of the French Open to the eventual semi-finalist, Fernando Meligeni of Brazil. "It was not that simple because you never know what Andrew's going to do," Rafter said. "He's unpredictable and sometimes he comes up with a great shot. The court was a bit slippery and I could have served better but I played quite well." In the next round, Rafter will meet Jan Siemerink, who beat Paul Haarhuis 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Nicolas Kiefer, the seventh seed, delighted his home fans by crushing his fellow German, Rainer Schuettler, 6-4, 6-1. Kiefer will face next either Switzerland's Marc Rosset or the American Richey Reneberg.

The French Open champion, Andre Agassi, plays the Dutchman, John van Lottum in his first match tomorrow. "It's great for us to have Agassi, who doesn't play in Germany that often. We offered him a wild card months ago," the tournament organiser, Ralf Weber, said.

Results, Digest, page 23

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