Corretja fells Ferreira to clinch last Masters place

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The Independent Online

The eight berths for Lisbon have been filled, and now we must see if anybody tumbles out between now and the Masters Cup in the Portuguese capital on 28 November. Britain's Tim Henman, currently No 10, lives in hope.

The eight berths for Lisbon have been filled, and now we must see if anybody tumbles out between now and the Masters Cup in the Portuguese capital on 28 November. Britain's Tim Henman, currently No 10, lives in hope.

Alex Corretja, a winner of the ATP Tour finale on his only previous appearance, in Han-over in 1998, filled the last vacancy, at No 7, yesterday by defeating South Africa's Wayne Ferreira 6-3, 6-4, to reach the quarter-finals of the Paris Indoor championships.

Corretja, who has proved himself on all the sport's surfaces with the exception of grass, withdrew from The Championships at Wimbledon because the All England Club did not seed players according to the rankings. "I didn't prove that [I can play well on grass]," he said. "They didn't let me prove that. With all my respect."

The other Masters Cup qualifiers are the Russians Marat Safin and Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the Americans Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, the Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten, Sweden's Magnus Norman, and the Australian Lleyton Hewitt.

Doubts cloud the names of Agassi, who has a sore left hip and is also concerned about injured pride, and Hewitt, who has a viral infection. Both players withdrew from Paris as a precaution. In Hewitt's case, Australia's defence of the Davis Cup against Spain in Barcelona is scheduled for the weekend after Lisbon.

Agassi is troubled by a rule introduced this year following the amalgamation of the ATP Championship and the Grand Slam Cup, that winners of the four grand slams would qualify for the Masters Cup even if they finish outside the top eight in the ATP Champions Race.

Agassi, the winner of the Australian Open, has said he will not go to Lisbon on that basis if he finishes outside the top eight. Currently placed No 8, he can only be overtaken by one of two players - Thomas Enqvist, if the Swede wins next week's Stockholm Open, or Juan Carlos Ferrero, if the Spaniard wins in both Paris and Stockholm. Ferrero advanced the the fourth round here yesterday, defeating Jan-Michael Gambill, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Sampras, who withdrew from the Masters Series tournaments in Stuttgart and here in Paris in order to have an extended honeymoon, has promised to take his place in Lisbon and will be keen to equal Ivan Lendl's record of five victories at the year-end championships.

The crowd were treated to some masterful tennis here yesterday, especially by Corretja and Australia's Mark Philippoussis, who overpowered Kafelnikov 6-4, 6-2. In today's quarter-finals, Philippoussis plays David Prinosil, a German qualifier who spent two hours and 40 minutes on court before edging out Michael Chang, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4.

Philippoussis has responded enthusiastically since renewing his association last month with Peter McNamara, who first coached him as a 12-year-old. "It's unfinished business," said McNamara, who endorsed Philippoussis's decision to ignore any call to play in the Davis Cup, even if Hewitt is unfit for the final.

"They've said they don't want Mark to play," McNamara said. "He did his bit last year. He's got the right to get the best out of his game for Mark Philippoussis, and not only for Australia."

Asked if there was likely to be a change of heart after John Fitzgerald and Wally Masur replace John Newcombe and Tony Roche as Australia's Davis Cup captain and coach next year, McNamara said: "Maybe Mark will play Davis Cup in future, but he will only play if it suits his schedule. They can take it or leave it."

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