Sun, May 18, 2003 - Page 22 News List

Argentines dominate the Masters


Four Argentines swept into the semifinals of the Hamburg Masters on Friday -- David Nalbandian, Guillermo Coria, Agustin Calleri and Gaston Gaudio.

It marked the first time in the 13-year history of the Tennis Masters Series that four players from the same country will play the semifinals.

Its the sixth time ever on the ATP tour. The most recent was February at Memphis, Tennessee, where four American players made the last four.

On Saturday, Nalbandian will play Calleri, and Coria will face Gaudio.

Nalbandian rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the third set Friday to beat Fernando Gonzalez 5-7, 6-3, 6-4; Coria routed Mark Philippoussis 6-2, 6-0; Calleri defeated Wayne Ferreira 7-5, 6-2; and Gaudio downed Olivier Rochus 6-1, 6-1.

The last Argentine to win in Hamburg was Guillermo Vilas in 1978.

The eighth-seeded Nalbandian is the highest-seeded player left. Gonzalez, seeded 15th, upset top-ranked Lleyton Hewitt a day earlier.

"I had to put everything on court," Nalbandian said. "I think Fernando played really good. The difference was nothing, just one or two points."

Nalbandian -- the first Argentine to reach the Wimbledon final last year when he lost to Hewitt -- has a 4-1 record against Calleri, who won his first title in February at Acapulco, Mexico, and reached the final in April at Estoril, Portugal.

Calleri was happy to be making history with his fellow Argentines.

"This shows how powerful Argentinian tennis is," he said. "Its also good for the people in Argentina, they've had a lot of bad news including lately the floods in Santa Fe."

Coria's job was made easier when Philippoussis came out flat after ousting defending champion Roger Federer the day before.

``I was just mentally drained," the Australian said.

Coria was surprised. He still hasn't dropped a set.

"Its true, my level gets better after each match," he said. "Today I played an incredible match. I just hope that each match I will keep playing better and by the time I get to Roland Garros [for next week's French Open], which is my goal, I will be 10 out of 10.''

The 12th-seeded Coria reached this month's final at the Monte Carlo Masters, and he runs into Davis Cup teammate Gaudio, who has the year's best record on clay at 24-7.

"Now with four Argentinian players in the semifinals, it's great," Gaudio said. "If I don't win, then a countryman will win. It's important for our country that has a lot of problems right now."

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