Top seed Kafelnikov exits glamour tornament

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Top seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov was ousted by Dominik Hrbaty as the big names continued to fall out of the Masters Series Monte Carlo tournament.

Seeded players Thomas Enqvist, Tim Henman, Magnus Norman and Mariano Zabaleta also suffered second-round defeats. That means only three seeds - Alex Corretja, Albert Costa and Cedric Pioline - have qualified for the final 16.

Kafelnikov's game was littered with unforced errors - 53 in all - as the Slovak advanced with a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory.

Hrbaty, ranked 24 in the 12-month rankings, had won three of the players' four previous meetings and in hot, dry conditions immediately took the match to his opponent.

With Hrbaty serving at 4-3 in the second set, the big Russian looked set for a quick exit.

But Kafelnikov clung on and began to hit the lines, winning six straight games to take the second set 7-5 and open up a 3-0 lead in the third.

Then the former world no. 1 showed the brittle side of his game, losing five second-set games in succession before falling to defeat.

Showing no signs of a recent injury, Richard Krajicek overpowered sixth-seeded Enqvist.

The towering Dutchman, playing only his second event of the year, fired 19 aces and hit 30 winners in a 7-5, 6-1 victory.

Krajicek, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after losing in the second round of the Australian Open in January, is delighted with his return from injury, having had only three weeks of practice before arriving in Monte Carlo.

"So far it has been a perfect comeback," the 1996 Wimbledon champion said. "I didn't expect it to go so well."

"It is a bonus and a little bit of a surprise," Krajicek said. "Wimbledon and the U.S. Open are the two tournaments I am really looking at this year, the two slams on the surfaces I like. If I get decent preparation maybe I can do something good at Wimbledon again."

Henman is another player looking forward to the grass court season.

The British No. 7 seed saw his hopes of a good run on clay crumble with a disappointing 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 defeat to 85th-ranked qualifier Juan Ignacio Chela.

Another big name to fall was third-seeded Magnus Norman, who lost 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, to Karim Alami of Morocco.

With the likes of Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Pat Rafter, Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter and Nicolas Kiefer all absent, the Monte Carlo event is already without most of the game's top stars.

Still, Corretja was in sparkling form during a 6-0, 6-4 win against Fabrice Santoro of France.

After his surprise win at Indian Wells, the Spaniard is emerging as one of the favorites to win a second Masters Series event at Monte Carlo.

No. 12 seed Costa recovered from a poor start to beat France's Jerome Golmard, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Pioline, seeded 8, came through safely against the Czech Republic's Jiri Novak, 6-4, 6-3, but No.15 seed Zabaleta was beaten by Arnaud Clement, 6-7 (3-7), 6-0, 7-5.

Franco Squillari and Gaston Gaudio of Argentina, Sjeng Schalken of the Netherlands and Spain's Juan Carlos Ferrero were among other players who advanced to the last 16 of the £1.6 million event.