Spanish armada begin to lose ground

  • Other Sport
  • Friday, 09 May 2003

Kafelnikov ousts Moya, Federer dispatches Robredo

ROME: Double Grand Slam champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov, his form blooming after several seasons of sleepy clay play, sank a leading member of the Spanish Armada yesterday as he inflicted a 6- 4, 7-6 (7-4) third-round defeat on Carlos Moya. 

The third seed from Mallorca had no answer at the 2.45-million- euro Rome Masters to the game of the wily Russian, like the Spaniard, a former Roland Garros champion and a world number 1 player. 

Kafelnikov achieved a quarter-final place for the second week in succession and for the first time ever at the Foro Italico after a decade of trying. 

The veteran, 29, notched his ninth win on clay this spring by following up on last week’s Munich quarters. 

“Finally, on the tenth try, I made it” said the relieved Russian, who now stands an impressive 9-3 on ATP clay this season. “I’ve been a bit unlucky in the past here – today I turned it around.” 

Kafelnikov left third-seed Moya stranded as he imposed his own game on the Spaniard, who is equipped to deal with long rallies for as long as an opponent is willing. 

But while Moya, winner of a Masters title last summer on cement over Lleyton Hewitt, is no classic baseline battler, Kafelnikov just wanted to make sure he had things his own way. 

“I had to play aggressive tennis to beat him,” said the Russian, who reached a semi last week in Munich as he return to form took flight. 

Filippo Volandri became the first home player into the Rome quarters since Andrea Gaudenzi in 1996 as he defeated Czech Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-4. 

The 21-year-old from Livorno played a surprise quarter-final at Monte Carlo last month after coming through qualifying. He is still ridden that career-shaping momentum. 

“This is the biggest emotion I’ve ever felt in tennis,” said the son of a family of basketball players. “It’s something special to be a quarter-finalist in front of your home public.” 

Volandri will tangle today with one of the most on-form player of the moment, Swiss fourth seed Roger Federer, who dispatched Spain’s Tommy Robredo 6-1, 6-1 in 46 minutes and has not dropped a set or a match on clay since starting last week. 

“I saw him today and I was impressed,” said Volandri.  

There were also wins for German Rainer Schuettler, Croatian Ivan Ljubicic, and Dutch qualifier Martin Verkerk, who knocked out Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen 6-0, 6-3. – dpa 

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