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Tennis: Lapentti big value after early victory.

Byline: Adrian Humphries

THE early start of the Internationaler Raiffeisen Grand Prix - three first-round matches were played yesterday - has given punters a good form line for the event, writes Adrian Humphries.

With a week to go until the start of the French Open, the

action in Austria was brought forward a day and there was a lot to like about the way Nicolas Lapentti beat 1994 St Poelten quarter-finalist Karol Kucera 6-3 2-6 6-0 on the clay.

The Ecuadorean is 13-2 with Stan James to take the title this week, and considering he is one of three players already safely in the last 16 - the

others are Fernando Vicente and Irakli Labadze - that looks great value.

Dominik Hrbaty, who is in the same half of the draw as Lapentti, is a big danger but Lapentti has won five of their last six meetings.

Lapentti has won higher-grade tournaments than this - he triumphed in the Austrian town of Kitzbuhel last year - and there are few players capable of beating him this week.

Jiri Novak is his only peer in the current rankings, but

although the Czech is playing some great tennis this year, he is not always the most reliable of betting propositions in smaller events. Remember, he was a disappointing favourite in Copenhagen this year.

Because of this, take a chance on 33-1 Markus Hipfl going one better than last year when runner-up in the

final to Andrea Gaudenzi.


N Lapentti

4pts 13-2 (Stan James)

M Hipfl

1pt each-way 33-1 (Bet365)
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 20, 2002
Previous Article:Sport on TV: pick of the day.
Next Article:TENNIS: Confident Federer 12-1 for French Open.

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