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Sunday, January 31, 1999 Published at 09:10 GMT


Sport: Tennis

Kafelnikov captures Open title

The new champion will rise to third in the world rankings

Russian Yevgeny Kafelnikov made his greater big match experience count as he came from behind to win the Australian Open title.


Ian Carter reports (BBC Radio 5 Live)
The 10th seed overcame Sweden's Thomas Enqvist 4-6 6-0 6-3 7-6 (7-1) in two hours 26 minutes at Melbourne Park.

It is the second Grand Slam title of Kafelnikov's career, following his success at the 1996 French Open.


[ image: Enqvist: Suffered a mid-match slump]
Enqvist: Suffered a mid-match slump
Unseeded Enqvist went into the match unbeaten in 1999, but lost his way after taking the opening set with a single break of serve in the fifth game.

Kafelnikov took the second set in just 20 minutes as he reeled off nine games in a row to seize the initiative.

Enqvist's timing returned as quickly as it had disappeared and he broke to love to help him level at 3-3 in the third.

But he lost his own serve in the eighth game and Kafelnikov made it count by taking a two sets to one lead.

His eighth double fault gave Enqvist an opportunity to level the match in the 10th game of the fourth set but two forehand errors cost the Swede dear.


Yevgeny Kafelnikov gives his reaction
He sent down two aces to take his total to 19 in the next game but Kafelnikov made it 6-6 by holding to love and dominated the tiebreak to seal victory.

"I broke Thomas mentally. I thought I'd never come back from the first set but knew if I stayed in the match I'd have my chance," the champion said afterwards.

"I congratulate Yevgeny. He played too strong for me. Maybe next year I can go all the way," Enqvist commented.

He beat Australians Pat Rafter and Mark Philippoussis on the way to his first Grand Slam final, but could not reproduce that form when it mattered.

"Today I just missed a bit more. I won 14 matches and I don't think that is a sign of choking," he added.

South Africans David Adams and Mariaan de Swardt took the mixed doubles title with a 6-4 4-6 7-6 (7-5) win over Max Mirnyi of Belarus and US teenager Serena Williams.

There were just two service breaks on either side in a match lasting two hours 21 mins.



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