Safin and Russia headline season-opening Hopman Cup
December 29, 2000
TPERTH, AUSTRALIA (TICKER) -- Marat Safin will try to lead Russia
to the Hopman Cup crown in his country's debut at this $1 million
mixed team tennis tournament, which begins Saturday (tonight
in the United States).
Safin came within one match of finishing 2000 as the No. 1 player
in the world. Needing to finish unbeaten in round-robin play
or reach the final at the Tennis Masters Cup in Lisbon to become
the top-ranked player, he fell to Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi
in consecutive matches.
Still, Safin had an extraordinary season. After losing his first
five ATP matches of the year and getting fined for tanking at
the Australian Open, he took on former player Andrei Chesnokov
as his coach and captured consecutive events in Barcelona and
The 20-year-old Safin had another former Russian player, Alexander
Volkov, at his side when he won his first Tennis Masters Series
title at Toronto and captured his initial Grand Slam crown at
the U.S. Open. He finished with a tour-best seven titles.
Safin will team with Australian Open quarterfinalist Elena Likhovtseva
as Russia will compete in this event for the first time, although
the Soviet Union and Commonwealth of Independent States participated
in Hopman Cups II, III and IV.
Russia, the second seed, finds out its first round-robin opponents
Saturday when Belgium takes on Japan in the play-in tie.