Ivanisevic Upsets Kuerten at Masters
11-13-2001, 07:40 PM
Post: #1
Ivanisevic Upsets Kuerten at Masters
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic proved the perfect wild card again, extending top-ranked Gustavo Kuerten's rough stretch with a 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4 victory Tuesday at the season-ending Masters Cup.

With his No. 1 ranking on the line in the ATP Champions Race, Kuerten needed a round-robin victory to build his lead on No. 2 Lleyton Hewitt and No. 3 Andre Agassi, both winners Monday in the $3.7 million event.

Kuerten, the three-time French Open champion, has won six of his 16 career titles in 2001 but is only 1-5 since the U.S. Open in September.

Earlier, Yevgeny Kafelnikov blamed his erratic start on a high net and jet lag before rallying to beat Masters Cup rookie Juan Carlos Ferrero 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5).

Ivanisevic, who after three failed finals appearances at the All England Club became the first wild card to win Wimbledon this year, raced through the first set in 25 minutes on six aces and 15 winners.

The second set went with serve until Kuerten got the better of a serving slugfest in the tiebreaker, earning a mini break on the fifth point and reeling off five consecutive points to force a deciding set.

Ivanisevic saved five break points and held serve to go 1-1 in the third set and then broke at love in the next game. He fought back from 15-40 with five aces in the sixth game to maintain his break. His 28th ace gave him match point, and he won with a backhand, crosscourt volley .

Ivanisevic was 13th in the ATP's Champions Race but gained a wild card for the eight-man Masters Cup, which contains the winners of the 2001 Grand Slam events.

Kafelnikov dropped two service games in the first set and sent ground strokes long, wide and high. The Russian complained to court officials about the net. He said a subsequent inspection showed the net had been set 2 inches too high.

A slight adjustment sparked Kafelnikov's seven-game winning stretch. That allowed him to even the match at a set apiece and go a break up early in the decider.

``I was 1-1 in the second and my service percentage was in the 20s when, all of a sudden, I woke up and saw the size of the net was unusual,'' he said. ``I told (the umpire), 'How incompetent can you be if we are playing such a match in this condition?'

``I usually like to play really low over the net, that's why I was struggling with my range. Once it went to normal, I started to play a bit looser.''

The No. 5-ranked Kafelnikov is the Sydney Olympic gold medalist and 1999 Australian Open champ. He has reached this season-ending event the last seven years and is aiming for his fifth consecutive top-five finish.

Fewer than 5,000 spectators sat through the error-ridden match at the 17,500-seat SuperDome, although there were some flashes of brilliance.

The crowd swelled to almost 8,000 for Kuerten vs. Kafelnikov, with Brazilian and Croatian fans chanting and beating drums.

In opening matches Monday, Hewitt, the U.S. Open champ, rallied past No. 7 Sebastien Grosjean 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, and Agassi downed No. 6 Patrick Rafter 6-2, 6-4.

Hewitt and Agassi, who finished No. 1 in 1999, are the only players with a chance of overtaking Kuerten and preventing the Brazilian from finishing back-to-back seasons at No. 1.

Kuerten had 771 points going into the seven-day event while Hewitt had 723 and Agassi 684. Hewitt and Agassi meet in a round-robin match Wednesday, and Rafter takes on Grosjean in Wednesday's other match.

Players get 20 points for a win in each of their three round-robin matches, 40 points for a semifinal victory and 50 if they win the tournament.


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