The arrival in Europe of the Australian Davis Cup captain Tony Roche and the advent of the grass court season, helped Australia's Patrick Rafter win and build a new mood of optimism in the $975,000 Halle Open ATP event in Germany, Tuesday.
The Aussie overcame the Dutchman Sjeng Schalken 7-6, 7-6 in a tense, serve-dominated battle and afterwards Rafter, the only leading player to travel the circuit without a coach, explained the change which the presence of Roche has created.
"I have done some good hard work with him and am hitting the ball well. That's because I stayed behind in Paris (after losing in the French Open) and put in the effort for a week and a half. I feel better for that," Rafter said.
The victory earned him what he described as a "bitch of a draw" against another Dutchman, the former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek.
Germany's Nicolas Kiefer beat Frenchman Jerome Golmard 6-1, 6-4 and said he owed the win to the crowd, who had supported him so well.
Kafelnikov nevertheless played a courageous match against Spaniard Fernando Vicente, saving a match point at 4-5 in the second set, pushing forward unceasingly to the net, and surviving 6-7, 7-6, 6-4.
"I wasn't happy with the way I played, but at least I won," Kafelnikov said - (AFP)
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