Pioline makes comfortable progress

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The Independent Online

Cedric Pioline reached the semi-finals of the CA Trophy with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 victory over the local hero, Stefan Koubek, in Vienna yesterday. Pioline was due to face the winner of the quarter-final between his fellow Frenchman Jerome Golmard and Germany's Olympic silver medallist, Tommy Haas.

Cedric Pioline reached the semi-finals of the CA Trophy with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 victory over the local hero, Stefan Koubek, in Vienna yesterday. Pioline was due to face the winner of the quarter-final between his fellow Frenchman Jerome Golmard and Germany's Olympic silver medallist, Tommy Haas.

Koubek and Pioline exchanged breaks twice before the Frenchman won 12 points in a row to clinch the set. Pioline then took control with his strong forehand and breezed through the second set .

Roger Federer moved a step closer to a first ATP tour title by easily beating the big-serving Dutchman Richard Krajicek 6-4, 6-3 in his quarter-final.

Federer, a semi-finalist in Marseilles and at the Sydney Olympics, had even less trouble than Pioline. The Swiss player's game was based on excellent returns and he secured the opening set against the former Wimbledon champion with a brilliant drop shot. A quick break for a 2-0 lead in the second set paved the way to victory.

"This was definitely one of my better matches as I was playing against a big server. Krajicek has been playing really well this last year," Federer said.

In Tokyo, the French Open champion, Gustavo Kuerten, was forced to retire in the Japan Open quarter-finals after feeling dizzy because of influenza, having to pull out against the Slovakian No 7 seed Dominik Hrbaty when losing6-7, 6-2, 3-0.

Kuerten, the top seed, departed at the quarter-finals stage for the third successive tournament after losing in Hong Kong last week and at the Sydney Olympics. The Brazilian dropped a marathon third game in the second set that saw eight deuces and resulted in Hrbaty breaking his serve.

The Slovak then ran off 10 straight points thanks to some powerful groundstrokes and Kuerten never won another game. "I did not have too much power and energy to run all the time," said Kuerten. "I couldnot go for the shots any more."

The Australian Mark Philippoussis also went out of the tournament as Sjeng Schalken swept past him 6-3, 6-2. The Dutch No 12 seed relied on near-perfect baseline play as he secured some revenge against the No 3 seed.

The last time the two met was in the third round of Wimbledon where Philippoussis won a five-set match that lasted five hours and five minutes - the second-longest singles match in the Open era at the tournament.

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