Tennis: TV critics help bring down Bates: Swedish outsider foils British No 1 - Hard-serving Dutch woman storms past young Croatian

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The Independent Online
JAN APELL, the surprise semi-finalist in the Stella Artois Championships, thanked BBC commentators for helping to wreck the hopes of Jeremy Bates, the British No 1, at Queen's Club yesterday.

After overwhelming the last British survivor 6-3, 7-5, the unsung Swede, who languishes 34 places below Bates, the world No 94, said: 'I have been watching Bates on television all week and the commentators talk about his weaknesses, saying that when he stays back he gets a bit confused, so they helped me.'

But while Apell celebrated the happiest moment of his career his illustrious compatriot, Stefan Edberg, succumbed wearily in his quarter-final, finishing off with two lame double faults in a 6-3, 6-4 defeat to the fifth-seeded American, Todd Martin.

Apell now plays the top seed and world No 1, Pete Sampras, for the right to meet either Martin or another surprise semi-finalist, the unseeded qualifier, Christo Van Rensburg, in tomorrow's final.

Bates was run ragged by his left-handed opponent, who belied his lowly ranking with some brilliant play from all parts of the court. Apell, who reached the doubles final at the French Open with his countryman, Jonas Bjorkman, was commanding at the net while from the baseline he unleashed glorious passing shots and immaculate lobs to outmanouevre his opponent.

A well-beaten Bates said: 'I never really threatened his serve and he always seemed to have the shots. I was outplayed.'

Apart from the consolation of a pounds 10,000 pay-day for reaching the last eight, Bates should see his ranking climb to around No 80 when the new computer list is issued next week.

'It has been a good week,' said Bates. 'I have had three wins against three guys who I have never beaten before. It has definitely been my best run ever into Wimbledon. If I keep reaching the quarters at this sort of event, I will be in the top 50.' Edberg's disappointment at losing to Martin was compounded when he learned afterwards that victory would have meant him overtaking Michael Stich as the world No 2 - which would almost certainly have resulted in him being seeded second for Wimbledon.

(Photograph omitted)

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