Safin Wins at Australian Open

The Associated Press, Sat 19 Jan 2002

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) пїЅ Marat Safin was in control at the Australian Open on Saturday пїЅ in control of his match and of his infamous temper.

And then, when he was two sets and a break up against fellow Russian Mikhail Youzhny, something happened.

Safin tapped a ball behind him, and it hit a line judge. The 2000 U.S. Open champion was given an immediate warning for a code violation from chair umpire Norm Chryst.

That led to a loud debate between player and official.

Safin demanded an explanation and asked for the Grand Slam supervisor to intervene before returning to the baseline and apologizing to the line judge.

Safin eventually finished off his 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Youzhny to set up a fourth-round match against Pete Sampras, and then he continued to complain bitterly afterward.

Safin accused Chryst of interfering in the match and of showing him no respect by not removing his sunglasses during their argument.

He said the chair umpire should enforce the rules in a reasonable manner and not take a hard line when there are obvious mistakes.

``Nobody expects these kind of things from the chair umpire,'' Safin said. ``But I think, you know, he likes to be involved in the match. It's okay. He can play tennis also, after the tournament.''

Safin, who's developed a reputation for smashing rackets and yelling at himself during matches, faces disciplinary action for a series of code violations. The tournament referee declined to comment.

Asked about his heated discussion with Chryst, Safin said he was ``talking to him nicely, and he's talking to me like, you know, `I'm the king of the court and I can do whatever I want'.''

Safin said he's had trouble with Chryst in the past.

``We were playing great tennis and the guy just, he wants to show off,'' Safin said. ``I don't know what is his problem. The guy almost destroyed our game.''

At last year's Australian Open, Safin smashed a racket after his fourth-round loss to Dominik Hrbaty. In 2000, Safin was fined $2,000 here for not making an effort during a loss to South African qualifier Grant Stafford.