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SLEEPLESSNESS NO PROBLEM FOR VICTORIOUS GRAF

On the eve of her first final in more than a year, Steffi Graf tossed and turned, got three hours sleep, then got up on the right side of bed.

She continued her dominance of Wimbledon champ Jana Novotna with an easy 6-4, 6-1 victory Saturday to earn the Pilot Pen International title.

"I don't know why I couldn't settle down. I was just awake forever," said Graf, who had not had to prepare for a final since May 1997.

Her last title came then on the clay courts of Strasbourg. A month later she had surgery on her left knee. The Pilot Pen was her ninth tournament of the year and the first time she reached the finals.

Holding the trophy, she said, felt "awesome."

"It's been a long way, but it's special to be here right now, to be at this point," Graf said.

Around the net

In Commack, L.I., Patrick Rafter, the defending U.S. Open champion, continued his mastery of Greg Rusedski with a 6-4, 7-5 victory to advance to today's finals (2 p.m., Empire) of the Hamlet Cup against Felix Mantilla.

"I played a smart game today," Rafter said. "I served well and made the most of the big points."

The Australian -- 25-3 with three titles since mid-June -- will oppose the eighth-seeded Mantilla of Spain, who scored a 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 victory over 18-year-old Marat Safin in the other semifinal.

In Brookline, Mass., unseeded Paul Haarhuis of the Netherlands upset third-seeded Frenchman Cedric Pioline, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, in semifinal play at the MFS Pro Championship. In today's final, Haarhuis will play fourth-seeded American Michael Chang, who earned a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 semifinal triumph over qualifier Sebastien Grosjean of France.

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