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Qualifier Niklas Kulti of Sweden defeated French Open champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4 Sunday to win the Gerry Weber Open tournament.

Kulti needed 2 hours, 3 minutes to overcome the strong serve and volley game of Kafelnikov.Kulti had to play eight singles matches in nine days, including qualifying matches, to reach the grass court championship.

The title was Kulti's third since turning pro in 1989. He previously won at Adelaide, Australia, in 1992 and 1993.

Kulti is the second qualifier to win an ATP tournament this year in Germany. Roberto Carretero won the German Open at Hamburg in May.

"I didn't come to Halle expecting to win, but the longer I was here, the more I started believing in it," Kulti said.

The key point in the final set came with Kulti breaking Kafelnikov in the seventh game after staving off the Russian's set point.

Kafelnikov held off four match points before Kulti made good on the fifth to win.

Kafelnikov played the final with a bandaged left knee, although it did not appear to hamper his hard-hitting game.

Kulti served only 13 aces to Kafelnikov's 15, but won the big points.

"I think this is the best tournament I've played so far," Kulti said as he accepted the big silver cup trophy.

The winner got $122,000 from the purse of $875,000.

The Challenge

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - Andres Gomez, his opponent slipping and sliding across the clay court, beat John McEnroe 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 Sunday to win The Challenge.

McEnroe, 37, has lost four consecutive matches to Gomez - all on clay - in the Nuveen Tour for players 35 and older.

"John is a better player on hard courts, but he's not used to playing on clay," Gomez said. "Luckily for me, the events on the tour are on clay."

Earlier at the Beach and Tennis Club at Pebble Beach, Jimmy Connors defeated Yannick Noah 6-3, 6-3 in the third-place match of the four-player, $325,000 event.

McEnroe slipped three times on the clay and challenged numerous calls. In the deciding game, the 37-year-old double faulted twice and fell while trying to reach for a powerful return by Gomez.

"I haven't caught him on an off-day yet on this surface," McEnroe said. "I still think I have the ability to beat him, but I just haven't been accurate. This surface has a way of making your weaknesses more apparent."

Gomez, 36, is the Nuveen Tour points leader. He challenged McEnroe during the two-hour match with his strong serve and a fast pace.

The winner of the title match Sunday received $150,000; the loser earned $100,000.

In the doubles championship Saturday, Johan Kriek and Dick Stockton defeated Hank Pfister and Gene Mayer 6-1, 7-5.