Sunday, August 13, 2000

Enqvist on cruise control

By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Thomas Enqvist
(Jeff Swinger photos)
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        MASON — Thomas Enqvist has stormed into the Tennis Masters Series Cincinnati finals, cruising through his last eight sets.

        But here's the thing about parity in men's tennis: Enqvist barely survived a third-set tiebreak in the first round. Little-known Romanian Andrei Pavel had him tied 7-7 in the breaker before Enqvist sweated out two final points to squeak by.

        “You play so many close matches throughout the year,” Enqvist said. “It's like this sometimes.

        “You can play really well for a month or so and maybe don't have so much success because you lose some close matches. Finally you win a few of them. If you win your close matches, you go a long way in a tournament like this.”

        Here's another thing: Enqvist almost didn't play this week. The 26-year-old Swede has a loose bone chip in his ankle which forced him to retire during a third-round match last week in Toronto. But strangely, the chip sometimes fall into a place where it's painless, which it did this week.

Arnaud Clement
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        Saturday night, the seventh seed beat Arnaud Clement 6-2, 6-2 in 70 minutes. The unseeded Frenchman had slain three seeded players this week, but he was powerless against the steady Enqvist.

        “I felt very good, very solid,” Enqvist said.

        Clement, playing in his first Masters Series semifinal, committed 37 unforced errors and landed only 39 percent of his first serves in play.

        Enqvist, who has 16 career titles, advances to the finals here for the first time after semifinal showings in 1995 and '96.

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