TENNIS: MASTERS CUP IN LISBON

The Masters Cup joins together the world's best eight tennis players, among whom this year are the Russians Marat Safin and Yevgueny Kafelnikov. Tomorrow, in the spectacular new multi-purpose stadium, Atlantic Pavilion, the first match will be played between Safin and Corretja at 16.00 local time (GMT),19.00 MSK time. The top two ATP players, Safin and Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten, lead the two groups. Safin leads the red group, which is composed of Corretja (Spain), Hewitt (Australia) and Pete Sampras (USA). The green group is composed of Gustavo Kuerten, Andre Agassi (USA), Magnus Norman (Sweden) and Kafelnikov. Sampras is the defending champion of the Masters Cup, a tournament which acts like the Cup Final of tennis. He has won five times, in 1991, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1999. Safin, the ATP ranking number one, should provide strong opposition this year because the young Muscovite is in great form...and he has the moral support of his girlfriend, the Spanish Marta Torrens-Valero, who he met precisely in Lisbon last year at the Estoril Open. In the other group. Kafelnikov meets Agassi, the other American. After each player has played all the others in his group, the first two players in each group go through to the semi-finals This promises to be a spectacular event and the next days should provide the Atlantic Pavilion's 12,000 spectators (and 450 journalists) with some fine tennis. Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru Lisbon