Tennis: Kuerten falls to rampant Russian

Yevgeny Kafelnikov strode to a stunning straight sets win over top seed Gustavo Kuerten in the quarter-finals of the US Open.

Yevgeny Kafelnikov strode to a stunning straight sets win over top seed Gustavo Kuerten in the quarter-finals of the US Open.

The Russian steam-rollered his opponent in a 6-4 6-0 6-3 in a 92-minute upset at Flushing Meadows.

Brazilian Kuerten seemed to be hampered by a leg problem, but refused to call for a four-minute injury break.

Seventh seeded Kafelnikov's previous best performance at the US open was a semi-final appearance in 1999, but he will hope to proceed at least one stage further this year.

Kafelnikov will meet the winner from the battle of the young big-hitters, Leyton Hewitt or Andy Roddick, in the semi-finals.

Kafelnikov hit 28 winners in what was one of the most lopsided victories of the tournament so far. He played efficient baseline tennis with a minimum of unforced errors, while Kuerten's trademark topspin backhands went wide far too often.

The Brazilian clay-court specialist only managed to keep Kafelnikov's pace in the opening set.

After putting up almost no resistance in the second set he lost the first 12 points of the final set, squandering his serve at Love, and never got back into the match.

It was a timid performance by world number one Kuerten, and at one stage he lost 11 games in a row, which included conceding the first and second sets.

Afterwards, Kafelnikov said: "I took some advice from (John) McEnroe, who asked me why I don't play a serve and volley game.

"Clay definitely makes him (Kuerten) unbeatable. But on hard surface, he doesn't have those few extra seconds.

"The key was winning the first set. Once I won, I knew he was not going to dominate me like he did at the French Open," said Kafelnikov, who lost to Kuerten in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.

He added: "I can't describe how important this is for our country, it will be exciting when we step on court in the semi-finals."

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