Kafelnikov destroys top-seeded Kuerten in straight sets
Updated: Friday September 07, 2001 8:20 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Yevgeny Kafelnikov allowed the No. 1 seed Gustavo Kuerten just seven games in their U.S. Open quarterfinal match Thursday, routing the Brazilian 6-4, 6-0, 6-3 in 92 minutes.
The No. 7-seeded Russian will play fourth-seeded Lleyton Hewitt for a berth in Sunday's final.
Third seed Marat Safin of Russia, the defending champion, plays Pete Sampras, the 10th seed from the United States, in the other semifinal Saturday.
Kafelnikov, seeded seventh, pulled off 28 winners in what was one of the most lopsided victories of the tournament so far. He scored most of his points from the baseline, but also had 25 net approaches and volleyed well.
"I took some advice from [John] McEnroe, who asked me why I don't play a serve and volley game," said Kafelnikov, known as an accomplished baseliner.
Kuerten's trademark topspin backhand went wide far too often, he never seemed to have time to prepare his groundstrokes, and his serve let him down.
"My first serve went away," said the three-time French Open champion. "Also, he took it over just like that."
Kafelnikov said Kuerten is "unbeatable" on clay but on hard surface, he "doesn't have those few extra seconds."
The Brazilian only managed to keep Kafelnikov's pace until 4-4 in the first set. He then lost 11 games in a row, including the first 12 points of the final set, when he squandered his serve at love.
"The key was winning the first set. Once I won, I knew he was not going to dominate me like he did at the French Open," said Kafelnikov.
The victory was especially sweet for Kafelnikov because he has lost three times in the French Open quarterfinals to Kuerten, who went on to win the tournament each time, including this year.
"For every question he made to me, I had an answer," Kafelnikov said. "That's something that I'm proud of."
Kuerten again came up short in his bid to win a major title. His defeat means that for the second year in a row, no man will win multiple Grand Slam titles. Australian Open champion Andre Agassi lost to Sampras on Wednesday, and Wimbledon champ Goran Ivanisevic was eliminated in the third round.
Kafelnikov and Safin have a chance to set up the first-ever all-Russian Grand Slam final.
"I can't describe how important this is for our country, it will be exciting when we step on court in the semifinals," Kafelnikov said.