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Tennis: Martin must be backed to level series at 11-10.

GRAND Slam champion Petr Korda has won three of his five clashes with Todd Martin but this year's Australian Open winner has never taken a set off the lanky American on carpet.

Martin is excellent value to extend Korda's poor recent record by squaring the five-year series at 11-10 with tennis specialists Stan James in the CA Trophy second round on the carpet courts of Vienna today.

Korda and Martin first met at the Tokyo Indoor event in 1993, the American winning 6-3 6-3.

And Martin eased to another straight-sets success the next time they faced each other on carpet, triumphing by a 6-2 6-4 7-5 scoreline in 1996's Davis Cup tie in the Czech Republic.

In truth, there is very little to choose between the pair on recent form. However, Martin, defeated 7-6 6-3 7-6 by Italy's Davide Sanguinetti last month, his final outing before arriving in Austria, has been playing only sporadically over the past six weeks and is sure to be fresher than his odds-on opponent.

Korda, easily the busier of the two, had crashed out of his last three tournaments at the first hurdle prior to beating Fabrice Santoro 7-6 6- 2 in yesterday's CA Trophy first round.

Bernd Karbacher, ranked 155 in the world, knocked Korda out of the US Open in four sets and Andre Agassi rallied from dropping the opening set of their Compaq Grand Slam Cup tussle to win 4-6 6-0 6-1 in Munich.

Last week in Basle it was the turn of Nicolas Kiefer to claim the scalp of the Melbourne champion, winning 6-2 6-4.

Kiefer went on to reach the Davidoff Swiss Indoor quarter-finals, at which stage he ran into Tim Henman and lost 6-3 6-4.

Martin did what Korda found impossible, ousting a Kiefer buoyed by his Basle efforts 4-6 6-3 6-4 in the Vienna first round.

It was a gruelling match but two days rest should be sufficient for Martin to have replenished his energy levels and he can continue his carpet dominance over Korda.

Today's other second-round matches priced up by Stan James make minimal appeal.

Karol Kucera crushed young Tommy Haas in last season's CA Trophy, winning 6-1 6-3 with the minimum of fuss. Given that and the Slovak's decent results of late, Kucera is a solid 2-5 shot.

Greg Rusedski, itching to regain British bragging rights from Henman, faces local hero Thomas Muster today.

The Briton has won both previous meetings but neither were played on a carpet court.

Rusedski, who defeated Yevgeny Kafelnikov in Vienna earlier this week, swept Muster aside at Indian Wells, taking it 7-6 6-1. That hard-court victory came earlier this year and preserved Rusedski's unbeaten run in the series. The big server was made to work harder in 1994 before recording a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over Muster in Indianapolis.

CA Trophy second-round match betting - Stan James: 4-6 P Korda v 11-10 T Martin (Korda leads 3-2; Martin leads 2-0 on carpet); 2-5 K Kucera v 7-4 T Haas (Kucera leads 1-0 on carpet); 8-15 G Rusedski v 11-8 T Muster (Rusedski leads 2-0).
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Worwood, Mark
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 15, 1998
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