Wrist woe threatens Safin season

Marat Safin has been warned by doctors that his wrist injury may require an operation which would cut a chunk out of his season.

The world number seven is competing this week at the ABN Amro indoor tournament in Rotterdam just days after he resumed training.

He overcame the first hurdle in his path, beating Belgium's Xavier Malisse in straight sets on Wednesday, but is well aware his progress must be monitored day by day.

The 23-year-old Russian was forced to pull out of the Australian Open in the third round in January because of a damaged tendon in his left wrist.

And he only returned to training last Tuesday (February 11), starting with half-hour training sessions before building up to a full hour.

But Safin clearly fears his injury is poised to flare up again and appeared concerned when asked about his condition.

"It's been so hard and frustrating," he said. "But I held on to my nerves and decided to come to Rotterdam to see if it was painful.

"If it hurts too much I may have to undergo an operation, the doctors have told me. So far I am okay, but touch wood.

"I have had a classical treatment with injections and ultrasounds. I am still suffering but can cope with it. We will see at the end of the week."

Safin has the sort of irritable character which means he is either up or down and he is confident, wrist operation or not, that the US Open title he collected in 2000 will be the first of many major titles in his career.

He has been reunited with his former coach Denis Golovanov this year and expects their partnership to be fruitful.

"I believe I can achieve great things and intend to take things very seriously with my new coach," he said. "The objective is to win a Grand Slam tournament."