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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kafelnikov Beats Haas, On to Finals




MELBOURNE Australia -- Yevgeny Kafelnikov routed Germany's Tommy Haas 6-3 6-4 7-5 on Friday to spare the 1999 Australian Open a dubious place in tennis history.


Tenth seed Kafelnikov brushed aside the 20-year-old German in a 113-minute semifinal to rule out the prospect of the first unseeded men's singles final in the Open era.


The Russian, however, quickly claimed in-form Thomas Enqvist would start Sunday's final as favorite after the icy Swede won two Open warm-up tournaments and beat two seeds - including twice U.S. Open winner Pat Rafter - in the early rounds here.


Kafelnikov started strongly against a tentative Haas and gaining important early service breaks in the first two sets.


Haas had never before made it past the third round in a grand slam tournament. He began nervously and the match was almost over by the time he began to find his range with damaging ground strokes in the third set.


Kafelnikov, the 1996 French Open champion, broke Haas' serve in the 11th game of the final set and then calmly serving out the match to love.


Saturday's women's final will also see a seeded player meet an unseeded opponent, although that match has been overshadowed by an off-court spat over comments by the world's leading two players about unsung finalist Amelie Mauresmo of France.


Defending champion Martina Hingis, who faces Mauresmo in the final, was reported to have said at a German-language news conference on Thursday that the powerfully built French teenager was "half a man." German reporters said Hingis' exact words were: "Sie ist ein halber Mann."


Mauresmo is openly gay, and speaks freely about her relationship with a woman who travels with her on the tour. She was reported to be angry about Hingis' comment.


But Hingis denied Friday that she had ever made the remark.


"A half-man? Who would say that?" Hingis said. "She's a girl, she's playing tennis ... very good and I have to beat her on court, not somewhere else."


Hingis, who earlier won her fifth successive grand slam doubles title, said she had been talking about Mauresmo's style of play.


World No. 1 Lindsay Davenport angrily accused reporters of taking out of context comments she made after losing to Mauresmo in a thrilling semifinal Thursday.


Davenport said after that match that Mauresmo, 19, hit the ball so hard at times she "thought I was playing a guy."


"Unfortunately you guys love to write, you know, the worst line possible and unfortunately you have probably hurt a very nice girl," Davenport said at a news conference after she and Natasha Zvereva were beaten by Hingis and Anna Kournikova in the women's doubles final.


Mauresmo's camp expressed surprise at the comments by Hingis and Davenport as the world No. 29 prepared for her first grand slam final.


"She thought everyone would talk about her tennis and not her private life," coach Christophe Fournerie said on Channel Seven television. "That is a bit surprising for her because she's young."


Hingis and Kournikova began the day with a 7-5 6-3 win over top seeds Davenport and Zvereva in the women's doubles final.


Hingis, 18, and Kournikova, 17, had never played together before this tournament but are close friends off the court.