Safin threatens to sack Wilander

Former world number one Marat Safin has threatened to split with coach Mats Wilander at the end of the season.

The Russian made the shock announcement after defeating little known Israeli player Noam Okun 6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the Lyon Grand Prix on Thursday. He now faces Max Mirnyi in the quarter-finals.

Safin has been hampered by a mixture of injury and inconsistent form throughout 2002 and believes he may need a dramatic change in set-up to ensure a turnaround in fortunes on the ATP Tour.

The 21-year-old, ranked 11 in this year's ATP Champions Race, told reporters after defeating Okun: "Between his family, his matches on the Senior Tour, Mats is a very busy man and he can only give me 20 weeks a year.

"During the Paris Open, we will sit down and discuss next season. Maybe we'll go on, maybe we'll stop."

Safin refused to speculate on who else he would consider as candidates to take over from Wilander although a fresh approach may be exactly what the temperamental Russian needs.

The former world number one has already parted with a number of coaches in his relatively brief career.

He currently faces a struggle to make the top eight in the ATP Champions Race and hence qualify for the Tennis Masters Series.

But speaking about his qualification chances for the end of season contest between the world's leading players, he added: "I'm here to win points. The aim is to make it to the Masters Cup but honestly, it looks very far away.

"At best, I'll finish the season in seventh place, at worst I'll be 15th. What really matters is to be in the top three."