City title for Safin - Liverpool 2002 reports
CITY TITLE FOR SAFIN
by Scott McLeod from the Liverpool Echo.
Marat Safin will be invited to compete once again in the Liverpool
International Tennis Tournament next year after winning the
inaugural event on Saturday.The world number one defeated
American pin-up Jan-Michael Gambill 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 in the final
to cap a successful week at Calderstones for both the Russian
and the organisers.
The Liverpool International will return in the corresponding
week next year, once again giving some of the worlds top players
the chance to prepare for Wimbledon.
Indeed if Safins praise for the event is anything to go by
the quality of the field will be even better in 12 months
"It has been exactly the sort of tournament many of us
wanted before Wimbledon." he admitted. "Lots of
practice on grass,a number of good matches played in an excellent
spirit and wonderful hospitality of course. I am pleasd the
tournament will continue and I wil be delighted to return."
Finals Day from the Roving Reporter
Well Saturday the 22nd June ï¿½ Finals Day dawned cloudy but dry!!
By 2pm the sun had come out and it was a beautiful day. And
what a wonderful match up we had in store. Marat Safin versus
Jan Michael Gambill.
And it was a really absorbing match. Both tall (6ft 4ï¿½) and
big servers ï¿½ who would dominate? Both players were serving
very well. No breaks of serve though Marat had three break points
when Jan Mike was 0.40 down and true to form of all the good
players, he got himself out of that situation with some excellent
serving. Then later Jan Mike had two break points on Maratï¿½s
serve. Apart from that it was terrific tennis from both players.
Both were volleying though statistics wise ï¿½ Marat probably
had a better % at the net. His volleying and net game have improved
tremendously and he used the drop shot to great advantage. In
some cases he did not kill the bounce enough and Jan Mike was
able to get to the ball and use his own cross court drop shot.
One huge serve of Jan Mikeï¿½s was a fault but so fast it bounced
on the drying court and hit a spectator on the head!! Sorry
folks we forgot to tell you to bring along your shields to ward
off the servers!! Marat says that he doesnï¿½t have a ï¿½touchï¿½
in his game but I feel that on Saturday he disproved that saying.
In particular one so gentle drop shot that just popped over
the net and literally died ï¿½ Jan Mike who was way back on the
baseline had no chance ï¿½ all he could do was cry out! The set
went to the tiebreak and Marat won it 8.6 with some excellent
shots from both players. First set 7.6 to Marat.
Second set and unfortunately the wind had got up a bit and the
clouds caused the sun to go in and out ï¿½ making it a bit difficult
for the players. In the 6th game Marat had break points on Jan
Mikeï¿½s serve but could not convert ï¿½ much to his annoyance!
The volleys were not going in as well ï¿½ either long or wide
and the racquet was bounced a couple of times as Marat showed
his annoyance with himself. Jan Mikeï¿½s serving was steady and
he held his service games easily. Marat had a couple of games
go to deuce but managed to get through without being broken.
Tiebreak once again. This time it got to 5.3 Jan Mike and then
Maratï¿½s serve failed him and he double faulted twice. Second
set 7.6 (7.3) to Jan Mike.
So it was one set all and set for a thrilling finale Would it
go to another tiebreak or would someone get the break? Well
it went with serve ï¿½ Marat had break points in the 5th game
but did not convert and then in the 7th game he broke Jan Mike.
From then you knew who the winner would be. Marat as befits
the current leader of the Championship Race had moved up a gear.
Jan Mike managed to avoid being broken with the score at 5.3
and Marat served out the match on his serve. 40.15 and tired
for that ace to finish but instead a great second serve finishing
with a beautiful volley. Game set and match Marat Safin ï¿½ the
first winner of the inaugural Liverpool International. The players
were presented with a memorial plate for Jan Mike and a lovely
trophy to Marat as the winner. The first name to be entered
on it? Who will be next.
They were both presented with a liver bird each as a momento
of Liverpool. The mayor was on hand as well as Steven Gerrard
of Liverpool FC ï¿½ another famous member of Liverpool. Councillor
Storey promised that the Tournament would continue and the players
both thanked the city, the public and Anders Borg ï¿½ Tournament
Director for a wonderful tournament which they had both enjoyed.
Then it was lots of signing for the fans milling around by the
players before Jan Mike was back on court as he was also in
the Doubles Final. He played doubles with Scott Humphries from
LA and they were up against a seasoned doubles pairing in Sandon
Stolle and Joshua Eagle of Australia. In a rousing encounter
ï¿½ Sandon and Joshua won 6.4 6.1.
A wonderful end to the tournament and hereï¿½s to a bigger and
better one next year. All those spectators who made it saw some
wonderful players and couldnï¿½t get over the fact that these
international stars were just walking amongst them.