Imperious Safin Seals Final Spot

ATP Barcelona Open 2003

Russia's Marat Safin took just 67 minutes to demolish top seed Juan Carlos Ferrero's claycourt game and reach the final of the Barcelona Open with a remarkable 6-4 6-3 victory.

In the 10th game of the first set, Ferrero opened and lost the game with a double fault, handing the fourth-seeded Safin the set.

"I'm still some way from my best form but I played well today," Safin said. "My serve kept me out of trouble and that was crucial in the match."

Safin, who beat Ferrero in the Barcelona Open final three years ago, edged ahead in the first set at 5-4, leaving the Spaniard to serve to stay in contention.

Ferrero, under pressure at 30-30, put a tired looking volley into the net and then double faulted to give his opponent the set in 35 minutes.

What followed was simply brutal, as Safin tore Ferrero's game to shreds.
The Russian held his opening service game in the second set to love and moved 2-0 ahead with a backhand return winner on break point in the next.

Safin then reeled off three love games to move 5-0 up and was only denied a 6-0 set win as Ferrero saved match point with an ace.

Ferrero, who had won just two points in those first five games in the second set, managed to hold and broke Safin in the next to hint at a comeback.

"Today it was all working: forehand, backhand and serve," Safin said. "I've spent the last three months with one injury or another, and now I'm just getting back in shape. It wasn't easy today, he started to come back in the second set, but I saved it with my serve."

"He was hitting much stronger than I was today," Ferrero said. "The two double faults in the last game of the first set really bothered me, and I couldn't get my form back."

Marat Safin, seeded fourth, will play second-seeded Carlos Moya, a 7-6 (2), 6-2 winner over Agustin Calleri in the other semifinal on clay at the Real Club de Tenis in Barcelona.

Moya's victory was impressive enough but was overshadowed by Safin's outstanding performance against Ferrero, who had reached the semi-finals without dropping a set.