x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Courier wins in Dubai legends

Jim Courier got his Legends Rock Dubai campaign off to a flying start with a straight sets win over the defending champion Paul Haarhuis.

Jim Courier defeats Paul Haarhuis in straight sets to book his place in the semi-finals.
Jim Courier defeats Paul Haarhuis in straight sets to book his place in the semi-finals.

Jim Courier got his Legends Rock Dubai campaign off to a flying start with a straight sets win over the defending champion Paul Haarhuis. The 38-year-old former world No 1, winner of four Grand Slams during his heydays and 19 other singles title, won the first set in tie-break and clinched the second 6-4. "It is great to win a match like that," said the American, who lost to Haarhuis in the tournament last year. "He is a very cheeky player and this is a huge win for me." Courier will play Sergi Bruguera tomorrow for a place in the final. "I have got my revenge against Haarhuis for last year and now I am looking for revenge against Sergi Bruguera for the 1993 French Open loss. This week is all about revenge for me," he added. Courier, the current leader on the Sanford Champions Rankings, was merciless from the back of the court, moving like a well-oiled mean machine to keep Haarhuis from coming to the net. The Dutchman, 42 and Courier's senior by four years, is still a difficult proposition to face with his serve and volley, and inevitably won a point every time he came to the forecourt. With both unrelenting in their contrasting court craft and boasting strong serves, the first set had to be decided by the tie-break, where Courier fought back after an early double fault to win 9-7. A double fault by Haarhuis and his handful of errors helped, of course. The loss of the set clearly upset the rhythm of Haarhuis, one of the few players who can boast of a winning record against Pete Sampras. He was not the same in the second set and was down love-40 in the opening game, but managed to avoid a break. However, with fatigue fast setting in, Haarhuis dropped his serve in the seventh game after being 40-15 and that was all that Courier needed to romp through. The American saved two break points to serve out for the match. Earlier, Mansour Bahrami entertained the fans with his trickery in a doubles exhibition match against the former Australian doubles star John Fitzgerald and his Swedish partner Anders Jarryd. Bahrami, the moustached Iranian magician, lobbed balls sitting on the line umpire's chair and raced around the court playing a virtuoso as his partner Sergi Bruguera stood with his arms crossed and applauded. The fan favourites, of course, won 8-7 (11-10). "Playing with Mansour is just unbelievable," said the former world No 1 Bruguera, a clay court specialist who won two consecutive French Open men's singles title in 1993 and 1994. "He plays shots that no one else can. Sometimes I just stand there and watch him play those magical shots. It's a great joy and you can only applaud." arizvi@thenational.ae