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Tennis: I'D HAVE DIED HAPPY AFTER A DAY LIKE THIS; Andrei is dead set on glory.

AMAZING Andrei Medvedev's edged out Brazilian Fernando Meligeni in four sets to reach his first ever Grand Slam final in Paris.

The 24-year-old Ukrainian became only the 10th unseeded French Open finalist after his 7-5 3-6 6-4 7-6 (8/6) win.

Marcel Bernard, Mats Wilander and Gustavo Kuerten are the only three unseeded players to have won the tournament.

And Medvedev - ranked No.100 in the world - is the lowest-ranked player to reach a French Open final in the Open era.

He said: "If I'd died on the court, I wouldn't have cared today.

If my heart had stopped on the court, then I would have been proud I was dead this way.

"I can't explain it, it's a minor miracle.

"It means a new life and it means I've come back to tennis.

"Tennis is my life and I have no words to describe just how happy I am."

Despite having to be treated with vitamins and minerals during the match, Medvedev had no intention of quitting.

He added: "I had cramps, I felt dizzy in the third set.

"But all I thought was to fight like a dog, and that's what I did.

"I don't think I played great but I fought as hard as I could."

But his run of form has been mystifying as he'd not managed two victories in a row since last October until he began this run at Roland Garros.

And in earlier rounds he put out Pete Sampras and former French Open champion Kuerten.

After losing the first four games to Meligeni, Medvedev rallied to win nine of the next ten games to win the first set and take a 2-0 lead in the second.

He was 3-1 ahead when he let the Brazilian back into the game again and Meligeni won five straight points to level the scores at one set apice.

But Medvedev went on to win the next two sets.

Although he let a 4-0 lead in the decisive tiebreak slip, he came back to win.

Meligeni actually won more points in the match than Medvedev - 147 to 145 - but it was the Ukrainian who took those that mattered most.

Medvedev added: "Before the tournament all I thought about was winning one round.

"Maybe now I can change my goals."

He will now play the winner of the semi-final clash between American Andre Agassi and Slovak Dominic Hrbaty.

Rain stopped play in the fourth set and the match will now resume today at noon with the winner going through to Sunday's final.

Agassi won the first two sets, 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), Hrbaty won the third 6-3 and is up 2-1 in the fourth.

American Jim Courier, who wrecked the dreams of Britain's Davis Cup team in April, has been granted a wild-card spot in next week's Stella Artois Championships.

The 28-year-old, currently ranked number 59 in the world, is one of three players who join former world number one Pete Sampras as wild-card entries into the pounds 470,000 tournament in London, which begins on Monday.

Tournament director Ian Wright said: "Jim Courier left both Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski battered and bruised in Birmingham.

"But we welcome him with open arms into the Stella."

Courier has won four Grand Slam titles and was a Wimbledon finalist in 1993.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:Haynes, Frank
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 5, 1999
Words:550
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