Originally created 08/15/98

Kafelnikov, Sampras, Larsson advance



MASON, Ohio -- Russia's Yevgeny Kafelnikov reached the semifinals of the ATP Championship Friday, beating his doubles partner, Daniel Vacek of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 6-4.

Kafelnikov, who is ranked 10th in the world and seeded seventh in the tournament, improved his record against Vacek to 10-3.

Kafelnikov, who will face either Patrick Rafter of Australia or Petr Korda of the Czech Republic in the semis, set the tone for his victory by breaking Vacek's serve at love in the first game.

"Once he was broken, I felt it was a lot easier," Kafelnikov said. "It definitely set the pace for myself, and it was the kind of pace I wanted."

Kafelnikov owns career records of 3-0 over Rafter and 7-2 against Korda.

"It's very important when you go against an opponent to feel like you almost can't lose," he said. "It gives you some extra confidence. You feel like if you play your regular game, you have a good shot at winning."

Pete Sampras breezed past upstart Vince Spadea 6-3, 6-2 on Friday in the ATP Championship to advance to Saturday's semifinals of the $2.45 million tournament.

Sampras, the tournament's top seed and the world's second-ranked player, needed just 48 minutes to defeat Spadea. The crowd responded with a standing ovation.

For Spadea, the defeat ended an impressive week. He beat eighth-ranked Richard Krajicek on Thursday and No. 9 Andre Agassi on Wednesday.

It was the first time Spadea has beaten top-10 players back to back in the same tournament. He said those matches took a toll on his performance against Sampras.

"I didn't feel like I was getting any rhythm against his serve -- or even any exercise," Spadea said. "I just felt heavy on my feet."

In another quarterfinal, Sweden's Magnus Larsson downed compatriot Thomas Johansson 6-4, 7-6 (7-2).

It was Larsson's 10th consecutive win over a countryman. His last loss to a Swede was in February 1996 to Thomas Enqvist.

Larsson, ranked 37th in the world, went ahead 5-4 in the first set after Johansson, who is ranked 38th, lost his serve by committing consecutive unforced backhand errors.

Larsson held serve at love to win the first set, and both players recorded a break on the way to the second-set tiebreaker. Larsson took a 3-2 lead on a forehand winner, followed by two service winners to go ahead 5-2, then forced Johansson into consecutive missed forehands to close out the match.