Tennis: Ukraine give top seeds fright

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The Independent Online
THE top-seeded German pair, Michael Stich and Steffi Graf, reached the last four of the Hopman Cup mixed teams tournament in Perth yesterday, but not before an irrepressible Ukrainian teenager had given them a fright.

Andrei Medvedev served, volleyed and chased brilliantly to beat Stich in straight sets and tie the quarter-final rubber at 1-1 after Graf had easily beaten Andrei's older sister, Natalia, in the opening women's singles.

But the experience and class of the German pair told in the deciding mixed doubles which they won 7-5 6-3 for a showdown against fifth-seeded France tomorrow.

In an earlier quarter-final the Czech Republic pairing of Petr Korda and Jana Novotna beat Australia 2-1 for a semi-final against third-seeded Spain today.

But the day belonged to the 18- year-old Medvedev, tipped as a top-10 player after climbing 202 places to 24 in the world rankings last year and acknowledged by both Stich and Graf as one of the game's future outstanding performers after his 7-5, 7-5 victory.

Medvedev took the 1991 Wimbledon champion to 5-5 in the first set on service before breaking through in the 11th game when Stich double-faulted on game point. He dropped the first service of the second set but did not falter, breaking back to make it 1-1 and once again taking the match to service before breaking through at 6-5 after Stich had saved four break points in a marathon game.

Graf met little opposition from Natalia Medvedeva in the opening women's singles, winning 6-2, 6-1 in only 42 minutes.

The Olympic champion, Marc Rosset, will miss the Australian Open after pulling out of the Qatar Open in Doha yesterday complaining of a throat infection.

John Fitzgerald, the Australian wild-card, upset Spain's Sergi Bruguera 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 in the first round of the South Australian Open in Adelaide yesterday. Bruguera, the No 2 seed, was no match for Fitzgerald, who was playing in his native state. 'It's certainly one of my best wins ever,' Fitzgerald said. 'I actually got a bit emotional at the end, I couldn't see straight.'

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