Arnaud Boetsch

Chang And Enqvist To Clash In Final

Michael Chang and Thomas Enqvist booked their places in the final of the Jean-Luc Lagardere Trophy in Paris on Saturday after both men won their final group matches to finish unbeaten at the top of their respective groups.

In the first match of the day, Enqvist had to come through a lengthy struggle against an in-form Thomas Muster 6-3, 3-6, 10-5 (Champions’ Tie Break). Elsewhere, Chang walked on court knowing he had already booked his place in Sunday’s final but he still completed a clean sweep of round robin victories with a 4-6, 6-2, 10-2 (Champions’ Tie Break) victory over Frenchman Arnaud Boetsch.

Chang is thrilled to have reached his first ever final on the ATP Champions Tour.

“It feels really good to be in my first ATP Champions Tour final,” he said. “Today was definitely a tough one against Arnaud so I’m pleased I was able to hang in there. I’m really enjoying being here in Paris this week with my wife Amber and it’s been great to play some good tennis as well.”

Enqvist is equally pleased to be playing in his second ATP Champions Tour final in two events.

“It’s great that I’m in the final,” he said. “I think today against Thomas it was a tough match and I was lucky to get through in the Champions’ Tie Break in the end. I’ve played well this week so hopefully I will go all the way tomorrow.”

Since making his debut in Sao Paulo earlier this year, Enqvist has remained unbeaten on the ATP Champions Tour, winning the title in Brazil and now reaching the final in Paris. Despite being on a seven-match winning streak, the Swede is modest about his achievements.

“It’s been pretty close this week. Yesterday against Cedric (Pioline) and today against Thomas were both tough matches that I could have lost. Hopefully the run will continue for another day because I’d like to win another title but I’m certainly not feeling invincible. I saw Michael play against Stefan (Edberg) and he looked really good. He still moves well and he still plays really good so it’s definitely going to be an interesting match.”

Chang starts  the match with a 1-5 win/loss record against Enqvist, having never beaten him on clay.

“Thomas has always been a difficult opponent for me over the years,” he said. “I’ve definitely lost more than I’ve won against him so tomorrow’s not going to be an easy match and I’ll have to play my best that’s for sure.”

The match to decide the third and fourth place positions will be contested by Cedric Pioline and Stefan Edberg after both men won their final round robin matches to finish second in their respective groups. Pioline sped through his match against a tired-looking Yevgeny Kafelnikov, winning 6-1, 6-2, while Edberg had a slightly sterner test against Guy Forget, coming through 6-3, 6-4.

Matches are played over the best of three sets, with a Champions’ Tie-break (first to 10 points with a clear advantage of two) to decide the winner.

After Paris, the ATP Champions Tour will move on to Chengdu for the inaugural Chengdu Open (November 5-9), and after that will arrive in Turin, Italy for the city’s first ever ATP Champions Tour event (November 11-14). The Tour culminates in London at the AEGON Masters Tennis event at the Royal Albert Hall, 1-6 December.

To view the order of play and the round-robin groups, click here: http://www.atpchampionstour.com/results.html

YEVGENY KAFELNIKOV BLOG – Part One

Yevgeny Kafelnikov is back in Paris, the scene of his Grand Slam breakthrough in 1996, and as well as playing in the Jean-Luc Lagardere Trophy this week, he is also writing an exclusive blog for ATPChampionsTour.com.

In part one, the Russian, who also won the Australian Open title in 1999, talks about how he has felt to be strolling the streets of Paris again, and the memories that the trip has brought back to him.

In part two, which will be published soon, Kafelnikov gives his reaction to Kim Clijsters’ recent US Open triumph, his thoughts on Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro, and how the current era compares to his own.

To read part one of Kafelnikov’s blog, click here: http://www.atpchampionstour.com/blog5.html

Mark Keil – Tales from Cincinnati and Boise

Mark Keil, tennis teaching instructor at the Westboro Tennis and Swim Club, MA writes on two exciting events going on in the states this summer.  The tour stop in Cincinnati, is now a big Master Series event.  The winner in singles and doubles gets a free membership for life in the ATP Tour.  I think it is is the hottest tour event all year, and can sap all of your energy.  I teamed up with Peter Nyborg of Sweden in 1995.  We beat Arnaud Boetsch of France, a former Davis Cup player. He partnered the current player Vince Spadea of Boca Raton, Fla.  We played great and won 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. In the next round we drew Jared Palmer, the NCAA singles and doubles champion out of Stanford.  His dad was the curator of the Palmer Academy, a tennis school in Tampa that produced many junior champion’s. Jared had the best technique, he played like Richard Avedon was taking his picture on every stroke.  He was a Davis Cup doubles team member, and also reached top 40 in the world in the ATP singles rankings.  His wingman that week was Richey Reneberg, the most unheralded American player ever. This guy played solid every time he stepped on the court. He was the king of eating room service, and hardly ventured out of his room. He played Davis Cup doubles for the United States, and played in a few dead rubbers in singles also.

He did play a few practical jokes on player’s with his mate Scott Davis. They use to travel with the “winger,” a sling shot for firing water balloons from hotel balconys. One year at Queen’s, John McEnroe was practicing on an outside court, and these two dudes fired balloons from the clubhouse and kept hitting a metal shack next to his court, making him even more paranoid than he already is. We lost 7-5, 6-3.

At this time of year I played World Team Tennis for the Idaho Sneakers. Boise is a nice town, and Patrick McEnroe picked me to play doubles with him. The South African Michael Robertson was our coach, and I could have given a better effort.  He ended up being my coach for awhile, and I learned how to think more on the court.  Katie Schlukebir, Debbie Graham, Gigi Fernandez, and Wesley Whitehouse rounded out our team.  We would always have early morning flights to the next city to play, and it was an exhausting but fun experience. Patrick would travel with a medicine ball, and it was tough putting it up in the carry on bins on the plane. Gigi was a multiple major doubles champion along with two Olympic gold medals, and had scary volleys. Debbie had a bigger serve than me, and had an unbelievable playing record at Stanford.  Katie was a very sweet girl, who relished on the gossip of our season.  Whitehouse won the Wimbledon junior singles title, and had a lot of angst that it didn’t carry over to the pros. We finished 3-11, mainly due to my unprofessionalism.  All in all, being a part of the team was enjoyable and I picked up a lot information on how to be a better tennis player.  The road to the US Open continues, and what a ride it is.

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