Safin Through after Ferreira Retires

Wednesday, 23 January, 2002

No.9 seed Marat Safin has advanced to the semi finals, after his quarter final opponent, the unseeded Wayne Ferreira, retired injured during their match on Rod Laver Arena, Wednesday.

Safin, the 2000 U.S Open winner, was leading 5-2 in the first set (after breaking the South African's serve twice), when Ferreira waved the white flag and stopped due to an abdominal strain.

The match lasted 28 minutes, which Safin wasn't complaining about. "I think it's great for me. I don't have to spend too much energy on the court and I can save my energy for the semi finals."

"I just ask (Ferreira) 'What is going on? What is the reason? I feel sorry," said the big Russian. "He couldn't run anymore. He was too tired, played two five setters.

"I'm feeling well and I want to have the opportunity to win. I'm doing well, so I would love to win this tournament and I am closer and closer to the final," said Safin.

30-year-old Ferreira, the oldest remaining player in the singles tournament, had played two consecutive five set matches coming into this quarter final clash with Safin, who at 22 years of age, is the youngest player left in the men's draw.

In contrast, Safin's first real test had come in his fourth round encounter with former world No.1 Pete Sampras, which he won in four tight sets. It was the first set he'd dropped all tournament. "Sometimes you have to work a little bit more than normal, like I did against Pete. It was a great match and I deserved to win. So today (winning so easily) was a present," said Safin.

Ferreira later admitted that the injury was a recurring one, but denied it was because of his age. "It's not because I'm older. I've had this before. I tore it about nine years ago, and there's a lot of scar tissue in there. It's the same spot that keeps flaring up. It's telling me something, my body is not used to playing this much. I just abused myself." Ferreira added that he had twice withdrawn from the French Open with a torn stomach muscle.

"The way I'd been playing I felt I had chance, so it's a little bit disappointing. The thing about today is not really the fact that I've hurt myself and pulled out, it's the fact that I couldn't go out there and really fight hard. I don't mind losing as long as I know that the other guy has to fight to win.

"It's disappointing to give it to him. He probably could have beaten me anyway, but I like to go out fighting," said Ferreira, adding that Safin "has a great chance to win. If he plays at his best he's almost unbeatable."

The South African then gave an insight into his game plan today. "For him, the mental side is his weakest. I was hoping today - he had such a good game against Sampras - I think he concentrated so hard and focused so hard that I was hoping he wouldn't be able to do it twice in a row."

Safin will meet the winner of the Tommy Haas v Marcelo Rios match, scheduled for Wednesday evening. "Everybody knows that he (Rios) is very talented. But he doesn't like to run - so you have to move him a lot and just to stay with him. Against Haas is the same thing. Just to stay and fight and run, and just take your chances," said Safin.