Tennis / Wimbledon '93: Masur making the most of his breaks

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The Independent Online
ON a day when it was impossible to derive English pleasure out of anything Australian, the man on the Tannoy at the Direct Line Insurance Manchester Open tried. 'Wally Masur was born in Southampton,' he said by way of meagre compensation for the latest score he had just read out from Lord's.

It was a tenuous link, given that the 30-year-old regards himself as Australian as a koala bear, but it did provide some minuscule satisfaction from a day when coming from Down Under seemed to carry with it the right to permanent squatting rights on any piece of English turf. Masur, like his cricketing countrymen, was close to unperturbable, winning his semi-final with Henrik Holm 6-4, 6-7, 7-6.

As the score implies Holm, the world No 19 from Sweden and the second seed here, was infinitely more penetrative than England's bowlers and had he not been on the receiving end of two pieces of antipodean luck when shots off the frame went for winners during the deciding tie- break, he might have been successful. Instead, the fourth-seeded Masur reached his second final in a week.

'I'm playing better now than I was last week,' Masur, runner-up to Arnaud Boetsch at Rosmalen, the Netherlands, on Sunday, said. 'It's a funny situation. You want to be just right for Wimbledon and you're concerned about wearing yourself out. But you don't get into too many ATP finals in your career. I'll be flat out.'

He had to be yesterday against a Swedish opponent who rocketed 110 places in the world rankings in 1992 and whose preference when it comes to surfaces is grass.

Holm, 6ft, has the height, power and scalp-hugging haircut which suggest the Wimbledon place he should be going for is in the defence, dealing with the debris left after Vinnie Jones has finished. Not surprisingly, subtlety of stroke does not come to mind when you think of his tennis.

Holm thumps his first serves down with intimidating power but he began the match with his sights impaired. He double faulted twice at 1-1 to surrender his serve in the decisive game of the first set but once he found his range he was broken only once again and he can feel unfortunate to lose in the unsatisfactory manner a deciding tie-break brings.

Winner and loser adopted appropriate positions. Holm was disgruntled while Masur, who took the tie- break 7-5, was relieved. 'You have to have it,' the latter said. 'There was a match at Roehampton on Thursday that went to 20-18 in the third set.' Masur, whose last of three tournament victories was in Newport, Rhode Island, five years ago, will now meet Jason Stoltenberg, the 6-7, 6-2, 6-3, winner over France's Stephane Simian. Stoltenberg is Australian. Results, Sporting Digest, page 55