Tennis / Wimbledon '94: Kafelnikov stands firm to extinguish Braasch's fire: Martin Johnson watches the demolition of the German with the whirring serve

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YEVGENY Kafelnikov is the fastest rising player (314th to 16th in a year and a half) on the men's computer, but it would have been a good deal easier to gauge the No 15 seed's potential yesterday had he had an opponent.

Everyone can have a bad day at the office, but Karsten Braasch gave a passable imitation of someone who had set off for work by kissing the hatstand goodbye and putting the wife on his head.

The match on Court 14

between the 20-year-old

Russian and the 26-year-old German was one of the Championship's swifter

demolitions, less like the Berlin Wall than the Walls of Jericho. Kafelnikov has powerful enough artillery to be known as Kalashnikov, although a couple of squirts from a water pistol would have got the job done equally well yesterday.

It was a good result for advocates of healthy living, in that Braasch's dressing-room warm-up does not so much involve a throat-clearing gargle with the lemon barley

water, as a quick cough and a drag on his ciggy. Braasch is one of the few smokers on the men's tour and a video of yesterday's game could perhaps be marketed as a cheaper aid to giving up than nicotine patches.

Braasch only looked dangerous once - and that was during the knock-up, when a ball girl was hit on the head by one of his serves and had to retire hurt. The real wonder of the German's serve, though, is how it does not cause violent injury to himself. It is a whirring blur of arms and legs, like an octopus on benzedrine, and on yesterday's evidence the net needs to be a good foot lower for it to work.

Early in the third set, a security guard abandoned his attempt to eject a tracksuited man sitting in the press-box after his intended victim identified himself as Braasch's coach. Not only was this a brave admission, but given his client's performance, it seemed to present an even more clear-cut case for him being thrown out.

Braasch, meantime, was beyond help. He initially berated himself with anguished cries and exasperated mutterings, but after a while he was reduced to chuckling at his own incompetence. Every now and then he took part in a point which underlined that he had merely misplaced his talent rather than not having had any to start with.

At 6-1, 6-1 and 5-0, Braasch had a jovial word in Kafelnikov's ear during the changeover, which had such a startling effect that it may have been something along the lines of: 'I know who you were out with last night, and it wasn't your wife.' Braasch reeled off three games in a row, before the Russian

remembered he was not married in the first place, and applied the coup de grace.

Kafelnikov is on course for a fourth-round match with Pete Sampras, whom he beat in his first match of the year in Qatar. The Russian is thought to be an even better prospect than his best friend on the tour, Andrei Medvedev, of the Ukraine, which confirms the advisability of starting this game young. Kafelnikov at the age of five, while Medvedev was (by tennis's standards) an old man of eight.

Medvedev went through in four sets on Court Three yesterday against the Czech Slava Dosedel (another late starter at six), although Medvedev required lengthy on-court treatment from his trainer for a bad back. However, Medvedev, who won

3-6, 7-5, 6-1, 6-4, does not think he has the game for a fast surface, and it is not so much his back that will prevent him winning Wimbledon, as an allergy to grass.

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