Kafelnikov faces Rafter and Joyce in fascinating draw

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 September, 1996, 12:00am

The draw for next month's Marlboro Championships has tossed up intriguing preliminary matches between four big names and young emerging talents ready to upset the odds at the Victoria Park from October 15-20.

The men's singles will comprise 12 players who will be divided into four groups of three playing preliminary round-robin matches. The winners of each group will advance to the semi-finals.

World number one Peter Sampras, American Richey Reneberg, reigning French Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov and 1995 French Open champion Thomas Muster are seeded to reach the last four.

But the big four have all been drawn against up-and-coming young players who are ready to upset their more illustrious opponents.

US Open champion Sampras has been drawn against Zimbabwe's Byron Black and Canadian Grant Connell in the Silver Group but the best preliminary round-robin matches are expected to come in the Red Group where Russian Kafelnikov should have his hands full against Australia's Patrick Rafter and another young gun, American Michael Joyce.

Joyce has one of the best records of the younger players competing in the territory, having reached the fourth round of last year's Wimbledon with victories over Michael Stich and Jim Courier.

Reneberg's Blue Group should also provide entertainment as the highly rated American youngster Vince Spadea looks to claim a scalp or two.

Spadea will make his debut in the territory with considerable interest on him after his exploits at the US Open where he took finalist Michael Chang, the world number two, to five sets.

Sweden's Kenneth Carlsen completes the lineup in the Blue Group.

Muster makes his appearance in a match against rapidly emerging Neville Godwin of South Africa in the Gold Group which is completed by Sweden Jonas Bjorkman.

Godwin reached the fourth round of this year's Wimbledon after German star Boris Becker withdrew from their match injured.

Sampras will have to overcome Black who is known for his tenacity and who reached the quarter-finals of the US Open last year while Connell is no pushover and can also do well.

Organisers are anticipating a mouth-watering showdown between Sampras and Muster who have made inopportune comments about each other, adding extra flavour to what should be a classic battle between two top players.

GROUPS Silver: Pete Sampras, Byron Black, Grant Connell.

Blue: Richey Reneberg, Kenneth Carlsen, Vince Spadea.

Red: Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Patrick Rafter, Michael Joyce.

Gold: Thomas Muster, Jonas Bjorkman, Neville Godwin.