City title for Safin - Liverpool 2002 reports


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 time,
"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 � 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 4�) and big servers � 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 Marat�s serve. Apart from that it was terrific tennis from both players. Both were volleying though statistics wise � 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 Mike�s 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 doesn�t have a �touch� 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 � Jan Mike who was way back on the baseline had no chance � 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 � making it a bit difficult for the players. In the 6th game Marat had break points on Jan Mike�s serve but could not convert � much to his annoyance! The volleys were not going in as well � either long or wide and the racquet was bounced a couple of times as Marat showed his annoyance with himself. Jan Mike�s 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 Marat�s 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 � 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 � 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 � 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 � 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 � Sandon and Joshua won 6.4 6.1.

A wonderful end to the tournament and here�s to a bigger and better one next year. All those spectators who made it saw some wonderful players and couldn�t get over the fact that these international stars were just walking amongst them.