Black stays cool to win through

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The Independent Online

The Zimbabwean Byron Black reached his second Nottingham Open final in three years yesterday when he beat the American Jan-Michael Gambill 7-6, 6-1. He now meets the Frenchman Sebastian Grosjean in today's final.

The Zimbabwean Byron Black reached his second Nottingham Open final in three years yesterday when he beat the American Jan-Michael Gambill 7-6, 6-1. He now meets the Frenchman Sebastian Grosjean in today's final.

Black fought back from 3-0 down in the first set to claim a memorable victory in a tough semi-final. "Jan has got a big serve and a big game,' Black said. "He steam-rolled me at the start of the match and didn't allow me to get my game going.

"I knew if I could hold my serve and get a look at his, I may fight my way back into the game. He is mentally tough and a difficult opponent to beat but I knew I was the better grass- court player. He is a dangerous player and with those fearsome serves he can cause a few surprises."

Black survived a set point in the first set with the score at 5-4 and then broke the American's serve in the next game.

"I thought this moment was the turning point in the game because Jan could have led by one set but instead it was me," said a relieved Black.

Each time one player moved ahead in the first set the other responded with a big shot until Black eventually stamped his authority on the tie after winning the tie-break 7-5.

"I held my serve at crucial stages, which was vital in this game. My experience shone through in the second set which was the key factor," said Black.

Grosjean advanced with a 7-6, 6-4 victory over Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman.

In the Netherlands Patrick Rafter survived a string of errors in the second set before beating the Moroccan No 6 seed Karim Alami 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Trophy in Dem Bosch. The Australian third seed netted three balls in the second game of the second set to drop service and allow Alami to race to a 3-0 lead.

However, Rafter, who has now won 13 straight matches in three campaigns at Den Bosch and is bidding for his third straight title, rediscovered his aggression to take the match.

The world No 1 Martina Hingis reached the final of the women's event, beating the fourth seed Jennifer Capriati 7-5, 6-2. Hingis stormed back from 4-1 down in the first set, breaking Capriati four times.

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