Rome: Two-time Grand Slam winner Yevgeny Kafelnikov clinched a place in the semi-finals of the Rome Masters Series here on Friday after defeating giant Dutchman Martin Verkerk 6-3, 7-5.
In another match, Roger Federer survived a scare to beat wildcard Filippo Volandri 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 and progress to the semi-finals.
Unseeded Kafelnikov proved too strong for Verkerk at the Foro Italico clay court event. Verkerk had a chance to haul himself back into the match at 6-5 in the second set, but he spurned a break point and Kafelnikov held serve to send the lanky 24-year-old packing.
Kafelnikov said he hoped his many years on the ATP Tour would serve him well as he seeks to win his first Masters Series singles title. “I’ve been around a long time, I have a great deal of experience and I am very motivated,” he said. The fourth seeded Federer struck a series of mistimed backhands against the Italian Volandri to lose his serve in the third game of the match. He then broke back immediately and capitalised on Volandri’s mistakes to break for a 5-3 lead and wrap up the first set in 36 minutes.
Federer again recovered from a break down in the second set. But as he served to level the scores in the 12th game, Volandri dug out a crosscourt pass and earned a break point.
Federer then netted another tame backhand to lose his first set in his last nine claycourt matches. The deciding set proved more straightforward, with Federer breaking in the third and seventh games to wrap up the match.
In Berlin, Kim Clijsters and Jennifer Capriati cruised through to the German Open semi-finals on Friday and will face each other in a repeat of their memorable 2001 French Open final.
Defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne and Amelie Mauresmo of France also advanced to meet in the other semi-final on Saturday.
While the top-seeded Clijsters brushed aside seventh seed Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-0, 6-3, former world No. 1 Capriati, seeded fourth, also looked comfortable in her 6-3, 6-3 win over Russian Elena Likhovtseva.
Belgian Henin-Hardenne had to dig deep to stop rising Russian Vera Zvonareva 6-4, 7-5. Mauresmo, the fifth seed, also struggled before beating Uzbekistan's Iroda Tulyaganova 7-6 6-4.