Grosjean sets his sights on Sydney

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The Independent Online

Sebastien Grosjean's dream is to emulate what his French team captain, Guy Forget, achieved 10 years ago by winning the Paris indoor title to qualify for the what is now the Masters Cup in Sydney and then end the season with a Davis Cup triumph.

To achieve the first goal, the 23-year-old from Marseille must overcome Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Russia's Olympic champion, in today's final at the Palais Omnisports de Bercy. That will not be easy given that Kafelnikov has won their three previous matches and is keen to win his first Masters Series title after failing in four finals.

Grosjean, who has displayed greater upper-body strength and power of shot after working hard in the gym during the summer while recovering from an ankle injury, continued an impressive run of form yesterday in defeating Tommy Haas, of Germany, 7-5, 6-4, in the semi-finals. Grosjean, 2-5 down in the opening set, won five games in a row.

Haas, who twice had treatment for an injury to his right wrist during the second set, will take the last remaining place in the eight-man draw for the Masters Cup in Sydney in nine days' time if Grosjean fails to win the final today. Otherwise, Grosjean will qualify and Haas will replace the Frenchman on the bench as a substitute.

Kafelnikov, who has already qualified for the Masters Cup, defeated Andreas Vinciguerra 6-1, 7-6, in the first of yesterday's semi-finals. Kafelnikov's domination of the Swede in the first set was almost embarrassing, the 20-year-old double-faulting to lose the second game and having difficulty interrupting the Russian's flow of shots as the next four games flashed by.

Vinciguerra was unable to make a respectable contribution to the action until taking Kafelnikov to deuce at 0-4, the Russian winning the game by hitting two aces. Vinciguerra held serve to love for 1-5, only to see Kafelnikov win the next four points to serve out the set after 24 minutes.

After Kafelnikov broke in the opening game of the second set, the pattern of the match seemed indelible. Kafelnikov did not show any sign of frustration with his game until leading 3-2 in the second set. Vinciguerra suddenly began to add accuracy to the depth of his returns and broke back for 3-3, Kafelnikov double-faulting at 30-40.

Although Vinciguerra netted a backhand volley to lose serve for 4-5, Kafelnikov failed to serve out the match, dumping an attempted drop-shot into the net. The Russian won the opening three points of the tie-break, but Vinciguerra fought back to lead 5-4 before Kafelnikov made the crucial shots to win the shoot-out, 8-6.