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Russian Gains at Legg Mason Tennis

August 21, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Top-seeded Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia needed three sets to advance to his first Legg Mason Classic final, defeating Nicolas Kiefer of Germany, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, in Saturday’s first semifinal.

``Obviously, I didn’t have as easy a ride as I would have liked, but I’m happy to be through (to the next round),″ Kafelnikov said.

Kafelnikov will face the winner of the Andre Agassi-Todd Martin match, which was played Saturday night.

Kafelnikov, ranked second in the world behind Pete Sampras, rolled through the first set and appeared on his way to a quick victory. But Kiefer began to rally and seemed to grow stronger as the match wore on.

``He had a very good start, then I had a very good comeback in the second set,″ Kiefer said. ``Maybe he thought it was going to be an easy match for him, but I never gave up.″

Kiefer had the crowd and momentum on his side as the match went to a third set. But Kafelnikov broke Kiefer’s serve to go ahead 3-1.

``I was really pumped up to win that game,″ Kafelnikov said. ``I didn’t want it to go longer than the third set.″

Kiefer served four consecutive aces to cut Kafelnikov’s lead to 4-2. Kiefer had 16 aces in the match to Kafelnikov’s four.

Kiefer, ranked a career-high No. 16 in the world, came into the semifinal having not lost a set this week. He is enjoying the best season of his career and ranks among the top five winningest player on the ATP Tour this year (38-18).

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