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Krajicek Moves to Weber Open Semis

June 16, 2000

HALLE, Germany (AP) _ Richard Krajicek overpowered defending champion Nicolas Kiefer with 25 aces Friday to reach his first semifinal of the year at the Gerry Weber Open.

The Dutchman edged the second-seeded Kiefer 7-5, 5-7, 7-6 (3) at the $1 million event, a grass-court tuneup for Wimbledon later this month.

Krajicek, the 1996 Wimbledon champion, gave Germany’s Kiefer no chance in the tiebreaker that capped the 2-hour, 8-minute match, landing nearly each of his booming first serves while firing his final two aces.

``I played very well, so I can’t blame myself,″ Kiefer said. ``Playing like this, Krajicek will win the tournament.″

Yevgeny Kafelnikov, the top seed, also reached the semifinals, beating seventh-seeded Nicolas Escude 7-6 (9), 6-3.

Kafelnikov next plays Germany’s David Prinosil, who posted a 6-3, 7-6 (3) upset over third-seeded Nicolas Lapentti of Ecuador.

Prinosil is not ranked in the top 100, but is one of the world’s top doubles players and far more experienced than Lapentti on the faster grass.

``I expected to beat him. I think grass isn’t his strongest surface,″ Prinosil said. ``But it was unbelievable tennis from me. He didn’t make that many mistakes.″

Kiefer, who reached a career-high No. 4 ranking after winning the Dubai Open in February, entered this event having lost five straight matches while battling a foot injury.

But the German’s reputation for being one of the game’s best returners didn’t help him against Krajicek. He hit some sizzling service returns but only gained one break chance against Krajicek, which he converted to grab the second set.

The match, played before a crowd of 12,500, was full of sparkling rallies. Krajicek opened play by firing aces on each of his first three serves.

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