Moya beats Medvedev to advance to final

Former world No 1 Carlos Moya of Spain secured a berth in the Estoril Open finals at Oeiras in Portugal with a smooth 6-1, 6-4 victory today over Ukrainian Andrei Medvedev.

Moya, who is currently ranked 46th in the world, will face either compatriot Francisco Clavet or third-seeded Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador, whose semi-final match started late due to the rain and was then suspended because there was not enough daylight.

The game was interrupted in the second set as Lapentti led 2-0 after losing the first set 6-4, with organizers hoping to resume it on Sunday.

In the women's event, top-seeded German Anke Huber, who is ranked 16th, notched a 6-3, 6-2 win over Italian Tathiana Garbin.

Huber will play another Italian, No 5 seed Silvina Farina, or second-seeded Frenchwoman Nathalie Dechy, whose game was also cut short and rescheduled for Sunday. Dechy won the first set 6-4 and the second was tied at 4-4.

Moya needed roughly an hour to defeat Medvedev, who won here in 1993 and is currently ranked 33rd.

After breaking the Ukrainian's serve soon after play began, Moya cruised to take the set 6-1. The second set was more balanced as Medvedev came out more aggressive and Moya needed to win a deuce before calling the match.

Medvedev, a defeated finalist at the French Open last year, said he was slowed down by the rain.

"It took me some time to warm up, because it was cold and rainy. It was difficult to get focused," he said, adding: "Carlos clearly outplayed me."

Moya stunned the crowds - and perhaps himself - with his performance at the outdoor clay courts in Oeiras, near Lisbon, as he is just recovering from a recurrent back injury, which forced him to retire from the Australian Open in January.

His goal at the Estoril Open, he said, "was to finish a match in no pain. I'm very happy to have made the final."

The Estoril Open, the European tour's first event on clay, offers dlrs 625,000 in prize money in the men's competition and dlrs 142,500 in the women's event.

Results from the Estoril Open (seedings in parentheses):

Men's Singles Semi-finals

Carlos Moya (Sp) def. Andrei Medvedev (Ukr) 6-1, 6-4. Francisco Clavet (Sp) led (3) Nicolas Lapentti (Ecu) 6-4, 0-2, suspended, darkness.

Women's Singles Semi-finals

(1) Anke Huber (Ger) def. Tathiana Garbin (It) 6-3, 6-2. (2) Nathalie Dechy (Fr) led (5) Silvina Farina (It) 6-4, 4-4, suspended, darkness.