Kafelnikov Blasted Out By Ivanisevic
8 October 1999
BASLE, Switzerland, Goran Ivanisevic blasted world number two Yevgeny Kafelnikov out of the Swiss Indoor championships Friday, hammering 29 aces past the Russian on his way to 4-6 6-3 6-4 quarter-final win.
His semifinal opponent will be defending champion Tim Henman, who booked his place in the last four with a difficult 6-3 7-5 win over teenage Swiss wild card entry Roger Federer.
Despite struggling through one of the most disappointing seasons of his career, Ivanisevic was able to continue his mastery over Kafelnikov, improving his record to 10-3 against the Russian, who is locked in a battle with Andre Agassi for the year-end world number one ranking.
Australian Open champion Kafelnikov, who held top spot in the rankings for six weeks earlier this year, looked in control until midway through the second set when the erratic and unpredictable Ivanisevic broke to go 4-2 up.
The Russian appeared to recover quickly, immediately breaking back, but Ivanisevic responded by winning five of the next six games to take the set and a 3-1 lead in the third.
Ivanisevic, losing finalist to John McEnroe in 1990, failed to convert his first match point opportunity at 5-3 and the second at 5-4 before finally nailing down the win on his third attempt with a thundering ace.
"I was 9-3 against him and I know he has problems playing against me, even though I'm struggling and he's having a great season,'' Ivanisevic said. "I don't remember the last time I beat a top 10 player, for sure it's over a year.
"I believed I could still play great tennis.''
Others, however, had doubts.
Ivanisevic, three times a Wimbledon finalist, has slipped in the world rankings from a high of four in 1996 to his current 44. Saturday's semifinal appearance will be the first of the season for the28-year-old Croat who has been knocked out in the first round of 11 tournaments, including the French Open.
"All this year has not been easy,'' said Ivanisevic.
"To lose the first round five weeks in a row is terrible...and guys you never heard of are beating you.
"Anything is possible now that I'm in the semi-finals.''
Ivanisevic, a big soccer supporter, has asked tournament organizers to allow him to play the first semifinal so he can watch a European championship qualifying match between Croatia and Yugoslavia.
Semifinal opponent Henman is also struggling to find his form and win his first tournament of the season.
In sharp contrast to his two earlier matches, in which he dropped the opening set, Henman stormed into an early lead against his 18-year-old Federer, taking the first five games. But the Briton was unable to sustain the pace as Federer, urged on by a large crowd, battled his way back and won the next three games before Henman could hold serve to take the set.
Federer continued to fight in the second, matching Henman shot for shot until the Briton recorded the key break at 5-5 and then held serve to put the match away.
"I felt the beginning was important,'' Henman said. "I established my authority right from the start and took a big lead.
"In the second set he started to play better and the crowd got into the match.
"I knew it wasn't going to be easy.
"We've practiced together and I knew he was a dangerous player."