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Paradorn must have a helluva serve! :eek:

Kafelnikov Chases Second Title of the Season
Yevgeny meets first-time finalist Vladimir Voltchkov

Former Soviet comrades Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Vladimir Voltchkov have won through to final of the President's Cup in Tashkent. Voltchkov, who won through qualifying to make the main draw, will appear in his first ATP final.

The Belarussian, who reached the Wimbledon semifinal as a qualifier in 2000, had won just four matches at ATP level this season before this week. In Friday's semifinals he defeated Italian Davide Sanguinetti 6-3, 6-2. Kafelnikov, who is looking for his second title of the season (Halle), defeated Thai Paradorn Srichaphan 6-2, 6-4.

Before today, Voltchkov had fallen in his four career semifinals (2000 Wimbledon vs. Sampras, 2000 Brighton vs. Hrbaty, 2001 Doha vs. Rios, 2001 Rotterdam vs. Escude).

Kafelnikov, who lost to countryman Marat Safin in last year's final and to Tim Henman in the 1998 final, is hoping to improve on a modest season by his standards by claiming the title. Kafelnikov won the Halle title on grass earlier in the year, but he stands just 30th in the ATP Champions Race.

Kafelnikov had an x-ray post match to determine whether he had fractured a finger on his left hand during a freak accident in his match against Srichaphan. Kafelnikov dislocated the fourth finger of his hand but was cleared of any break, and the doctor expects him to play the final. Kafelnikov injured a finger when he attempted to block a fierce body serve - which had been called a let - with his hand.

What the Players Said

Voltchkov: "I don't think I have any secrets, I've just managed to adopt all my tactical plans. This is really my week - I am playing very successfully this tournament, although, to tell the truth, I didn't expect to reach the final. I was just planning to qualify for the main draw and to win a couple of matches afterwards.

"From a psychological point of view this one was the most difficult, as I met my opponent (Sanguinetti) twice and lost both matches - once at Wimbledon two years ago and then in the beginning of this season. That is why I was really concentrated, and didn't commit any blunders. I won thanks to my tough shots. I felt my opponent was nervous, and I tried to use that.

"I will be very pleased to meet Zhenya (Kafelnikov) in the final and I'll do my best to beat him."

Kafelnikov: "Right now I can't hold my racquet with my left hand and as I play my backhand with both hands, I wouldn't be able to play the final if it was today. I was in a lot of pain during the whole match and, honestly speaking, I was just a few points from defaulting the match. I only decided to continue playing because I was ahead in the match, but if the match went into the third set, I think I would have stopped right there. So I really don't know how I feel and if I will be able to play (tomorrow)."
On his availability for Russia's Davis Cup semifinal against Argentina next week, he said: "I (have) already called (Russian Davis Cup captain) Shamil Tarpishchev in Moscow and told him to find a possible replacement for me."

Sanguinetti: "I knew he was playing well all week. He conceded something like five games to each opponent all week. But today, I think he played his best tennis. I couldn't do anything, seriously. I have no excuse; he was stronger than me today. That's the real thing."

Srichaphan: "I can't play well every day. I try to play well every day, but today I just couldn't. Yevgeny is a great player. He has a lot of experience and he was playing a lot better than me today.

"I have been playing well for the last six months. I am doing quite well. I just have to maintain the level and improve my weaknesses. Kafelnikov has a good chance of winning the tournament, but he has hurt his hand, so I don't know."

Yevgeny Kafelnikov won his 25th career title earlier this year in Halle but the Russian would still be disappointed with a relatively modest season in which he has slipped to 30th in the ATP Champions Race and in which he failed to reach the fourth round in any of the Grand Slams. He has reached the finals in Tashkent twice before, losing in straight sets to both Tim Henman in 1998 and Safin last year.

Kafelnikov has topped 60 match wins a year for the past three seasons (and topped 50 match wins for eight consecutive years), but is just 31-23 for 2002. In 1996 his record was a staggering 80-25. He has won at least one title a year for the past nine seasons.

Voltchkov is appearing in his first ATP final and before this week was just 4-3 on the year. His last victory at ATP level was in February when he defeated Alex Calatrava in the first round of Copenhagen. Since then he had played eight Challengers (winning Manchester on grass) and one ATP event (losing in the first round of Sopot) before Tashkent. He dropped just two games in his first two qualifying matches here this week. Has lost an average of just four games a match in the main draw this week, including a 6-2, 2-1 ret. win over second seed Tommy Haas in the quarterfinals.
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