Open champ Safin storms into President's Cup final
September 16, 2000 TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN
U.S. Open champion Marat Safin claims he is not playing his
best tennis this week at the President's Cup tennis event.
Don't tell George Bastl that.
Safin extended his winning streak to 11 matches today by dumping
the 1999 runner-up from Switzerland, 6-2, 6-2, to advance
to the final of the $525,000 hardcourt event.
Seeded second, Safin will seek an ATP Tour-leading fifth title
of the year when he meets unseeded Davide Sanguinetti of Italy
in Sunday's final.
Sanguinetti, who upset top seed Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the
second round, will get a chance to eliminate the No. 1 Russian
player in the final after struggling past Frenchman Julien
Boutter, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4).
Safin has won 23 of his last 25 matches, capturing his first
Tennis Masters Series event in Toronto and first career Grand
Slam at the U.S. Open last week. His straight-sets win over
Pete Sampras on Sunday put him third on the ATP Champions
Race 2000 leaderboard and No. 2 on the entry system rankings.
Despite suffering from jet lag, Safin has dropped only one
set en route to the final.
"I still cannot find my game," said Safin, who will vie for
his sixth career title on Sunday. "Of course I'm not very
fresh. But I'm fit enough to do that (win the title). I'm
looking to be No. 1 and I want to be there."
After Sunday's final, the 20-year-old Safin will travel to
Sydney, Australia to play singles and doubles at the Olympics.
He is the top seed in the men's draw.
Sanguinetti has been a fixture on the Challenger circuit this
season, winning in Ecuador. On the ATP Tour, the 28-year-old's
best showing prior to this week was the semifinals at the
Stella Artois Championships in June.
This will be Sanguinetti's second appearance in an ATP Tour
final. He was runner-up at Coral Springs, Florida in 1998.
This will be the first meeting between the two finalists.
gold for Safin?
Sept 16 2000 (Reuters)
Marat Safin was sublime in beating Pete Sampras for the U.S.
Open tennis title this month, but rival Magnus Norman believes
the Russian will fall flat in the Olympic tournament.
Norman, seeded third in the chase for gold that begins on
Tuesday, predicted that the top-seeded Safin's hectic schedule
would keep him from producing his top form.
While many competitors in the 64-player singles field were
already out on Olympic Park practice courts, Safin was still
in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where on Friday he reached the semifinals
of the President's Cup.
"I don't think he is going to be a big threat," the 24-year-old
Swede said Saturday after practice on centre court. "Traveling
from Tashkent will be very difficult.
"If I had to do that, I'm sure I'd feel terribly tired and
Downplaying Safin's chances in Sydney does not mean Norman
underestimates the ability of the Russian, who made the great
Sampras look sadly outclassed in an overwhelming straight
sets victory in the Open final.
"I believe he's been playing great tennis for a long time
and he is a very good player," said Norman, winner of three
titles this year and a runner-up this season at the French
Open. "I think I'm going to see a lot of him for the next
Norman said that, besides getting better organized, the 20-year-old
Safin needed to mature and curb a temper that has led him
to destroy as many as 50 racquets in a season.
"He still has to improve his head," said Norman. "He crushes
too many racquets."